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History of Iron County, Utah
Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia (Links Added)
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Coal in the canyons east of Cedar City and iron ore in the mountains west of the town inspired the early Iron Mission that proved marginally successful as a pioneer attempt at self-sufficiency. Modern mining methods and transportation made iron more befitting as the county name. Old Iron Town still has a fine beehive coking oven among its ruins. The west end of the county also has some historic and current precious metal mining. The Escalante Desert had its name changed to Escalante Valley, reflecting the rich irrigation agriculture of hay, small grains, and potatoes.

Iron County has a more balanced and broadly based economy than most of rural Utah. Located on Interstate 15, Cedar City is 500 miles from Los Angeles, 180 miles from Las Vegas, and 260 miles from Salt Lake, and about midway between Los Angeles and Denver via I-70. Its location and size have made it a regional trade center and supplier of services. The concessionaire for nearby national parks (an edge of Zion is in the county) headquarters here as do regional offices of the Bureau of Land Management, Dixie National Forest, and Utah Wildlife Resources. A railroad spur and regional airline still serve the city. A rocket motor fuel plant is under construction. Southern Utah University, combined with a peerless Shakespearean Festival in July and August, makes it an attractive stop for some of the more than one million people who annually pass through.

Gary B. Peterson


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