Museums and Historical Sites
Cedar City and Bryce Canyon History
Originally called Little Muddy, then Coal Creek, referring to the creek on which the town was first established, Cedar City, Utah received its current name because of the large number of Juniper (Cedar) trees in the surrounding area. Beginning in 1851 as the first iron refinery west of the Mississippi, today this small town is known as the home of the Utah Shakespearean Festival, the Utah Summer Games and the American Folk Ballet.
From its start as a mining and farming community, Cedar City has grown into one of the most exiting places to be in Utah. The dozen of spectacular events, which take place each year, offer an urban lifestyle in a small, hometown atmosphere. In combination with Southern Utah University, the community provides guests and residents alike with a huge variety of cultural and recreational offerings.
On November 11, 1851, 35 men arrived in the area to establish an iron works. This site was chosen because it was equal distances from the iron deposits lying ten miles to the west and the coal resources, found ten miles east up the canyon. Wagon boxes served as temporary shelters while they build houses from cottonwood logs.
At the suggestion of Brigham Young, the then president of the Mormon Church, the site was moved in 1855. The new site, the location of the downtown city park today, was nearer the proposed blast furnace. The iron works closed in 1858, but iron mining continued in the area until the 1980s.
A teacher training school was established in Cedar City in 1897 by the Utah State Legislature. This educational institution when through various names and transformations until it attained university status in 1991 and became Southern Utah University. It now boasts a student body of approximately 7,000 students.
In 1923, the Union Pacific Railroad built a spur off the main line from Lund to Cedar City. This development provided an outlet for mining and agricultural products and established Cedar City as "The Gateway to the Parks." Visitors arriving on the train and then boarded buses to tour what became known as "The Grand Circle," which included Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Grand Canyon National Park's North Rim, Pipe Springs National Monument and Zion National Park.
Today Cedar City is one of the fasted growing communities in Utah and continues to be a center of commercial development and tourism.