IRON MISSION STATE PARK
The Iron Mission museum tells the story of development in Iron County when, in the 1850s, Brigham Young sent Mormon missionaries there to mine iron. Museum displays include horse-drawn vehicles used from 1850 to 1920 and a collection of pioneer artifacts.
The museum is in Cedar City. A picnic area is available, but there is no camping.
Lack of iron was a major concern to pioneers who began settling in Utah in 1847. When iron deposits were discovered in southern Utah, Mormon leader Brigham Young called for volunteers to colonize the Iron Mission area. A site near Coal Creek, now Cedar City, was selected in November 1851 for the iron works. Ten months later, the colony completed construction of a small blast furnace and began to operate the iron foundry.
Despite its initial success, the Iron Mission faced many difficulties. Financial troubles, floods, heavy freezes and furnace failure took their toll. In addition, a crop shortage threatened starvation. The people persevered in the face of these obstacles, but the foundry was eventually closed in 1858.
Some three decades ago, progressive citizens of Cedar City and Iron County saw the merit of preserving their heritage, both for themselves and for the enjoyment of thousands of area visitors. They asked the Union Pacific to donate its depot and grounds for development of an historical park. The railroad had other ideas for the property, but the people found an alternative. Working through their elected officials they created Iron Mission State Park Museum in July 1973. The current museum opened in 1980.
Though named for the pioneering attempts of Mormon settlers to create an iron industry, the park grew and expanded around Gronway Parry's collection of horse drawn vehicles and agricultural implements. Over the years other programs and activities have been added such as pioneer craft demonstrations, rotating art exhibits, interpretive lectures, guided curation tours, and a Junior Curator program.
In addition, Iron Mission now manages the historic ruins of Old Iron Town, an iron foundry west of Cedar City that operated in the 1860's-70's. Additional information can be obtained at the museum visitor desk.