Northern Europeans, such as the Irish, Welsh, and Cornish, arrived in the metal towns first, followed by southern and eastern Europeans, Japanese, and Mexicans. The Chinese, finished with the business of railroad building after 1869, funneled into mining towns such as Park City, where memories of China Town and China Bridge still continue. Mining and smelter towns alike contained varying degrees of ethnic diversity, producing tensions and labor strife. Nativism--antiforeign sentiment, bigotry, and racism--existed in Utah, and erupted most evidently in metal- and coal-mining regions. Unionism attracted these "new immigrants," as it did others with grievances. Strikes and labor-management relations were an important part of Utah's industrial history--the celebrated local trial and execution of Joe Hill and the growth locally of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) are but two examples.
Metal mining in Utah, as in other locales, reacted to the vagaries of the economy. Upswings and downturns created periods of optimism and pessimism. The Great Depression of the 1930s affected the industry greatly, causing production to plummet. However, World War II caused the demand for metals to rise, rejuvenating the industry.
Uranium, the "wonder mineral" that became a giant in the 1950s, had been sought in earlier days. The quest for uranium and accompanying minerals has historical roots in Utah, and the industry of the late 1950s and 1960s rested upon prior experience in the fields of prospecting, mining, and processing. The earliest users of uranium ore in Utah were Native Americans who used it for paints. Initial Utah uranium mining began in the 1870s and 1880s on a small scale, with ore shipped to France and Germany in 1884 for use in the forming of salts and oxides as colorants for ceramics and dyes, in the manufacture of glass and pottery, and as aids in photography and steel plating. By 1898 radium had been isolated from the mineral, and carnotite had been found and identified. Radium became known as a "wonder drug."