Contrived by the Cedar City Chamber of Commerce and designed by Randall Jones in 1919, the El Escalante hotel was located on the SW corner of 200 North and Main Street, conveniently across from the railroad depot. Construction began under the direction of city leaders with locally made brick. The hotel was purchased by Union Pacific to accommodate tourists to the nearby Utah parks and in 1923, the hotel began hosting thousands of visitors a year, including movie stars and President Warren G. Harding. The El Escalante anchored the north end of Main Street for nearly 50 years.
We thought you would enjoy this 1947 Thanksgiving Day menu form the restaurant at the hotel. All of us at Frontier Homestead State Park want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.
Bob Higbee (1943) worked at Bryce Canyon in 1962. The following is taken from an interview recorded in 2004.
Bob Higbee circa 1962
We’d plan what we call ‘gooping the loop.’ Now, this was a term that came from years before we worked there. A group of people had gone around Navajo Loop one night and they’d had a watermelon bust down there and they had just thrown the rinds everywhere. One of the rangers said, ‘They just gooped up the Navajo Loop Trail.’ So, whenever you went around the Navajo Loop at night, you were ‘gooping the loop.’
We decided we were going to ‘goop the loop,’ and all of the new kids were invited to go. Some of the instigators met in my room and one guy wasn’t interested in chasing anybody, you know, didn’t have his eye on anybody. I said, ‘I’ve got an idea. I’ll tell a ghost story but what you need to do is go down early. We will leave the lodge at a certain time, so you can count on us.’ He went down early and up this little side canyon he knew of and sat behind a bush. The rest of us got to the spot a little later. It was dark and we started telling this story about old scar face or something, you know the typical story. The cue for him was when I got to the point of the story where everybody thought old scar face had left the area but just last summer a housewife in Tropic was washing her dishes when she looked up and old scar face was standing outside her kitchen window. When I got to that point, Larry, up the side canyon started going ‘Grrr’ and began kicking loose rocks.
Navajo Loop at Bryce Canyon. Photo courtesy of takemytrip.com
TOTAL CHAOS! This one girl, Carol Ann was her name, she had gone down with this guy named Brant Henry, they had kind of paired off a little bit. Brant had a brand new expensive rain coat. Carol Ann freaked out so bad that she ripped the sleeve right off at the shoulder, right down over his hand. Then those of us that were in the know, of course, we took off running down the trail and we would hide behind rocks all the rest of the way around the trail and just jump out on them. So, for the next hour and a half there was just a lot of squealing and screaming and fun stuff. When people came out from ‘gooping the loop’ they would be kind of paired off and were ready to go out and date.
Although discovered by Peter Shirts in early 1868 – the area known as Iron City blossomed under the investment of Ebenezer Hanks. In June of 1868 Hanks established the Union Iron Company, later known as the Great Western Iron Company.
One of the remaining charcoal kilns at Old Iron Town.
The 1870 census indicates that 97 people, living in 19 households resided in Iron City. The iron works consisted of a furnace, with a 2,500–pound capacity, a pattern shop, molding shop, erastra, (grinding device) and two charcoal kilns.
The Great Western Iron Company needed large sums of capital to operate, and outside (non-Mormon) investors were sought. With new money came new labor. Many of these workers were not members of the conservative religion and Iron City soon became a place where drinking and swearing were commonplace. By 1871 Iron City had a post office, boarding house, a brick schoolhouse, butcher shop, and a general store.
At peak production the iron works produced 5-7 tons of pig iron per day. They supplied ore for the Utah Western Railroad, mining companies in Pioche, Nevada, and also provided the iron used in the 12 oxen that support the St. George LDS Temple baptismal font.
The Great Western Iron Company could not survive financially selling small items to cash- strapped Mormon settlers and could no longer afford the shipping costs for their larger contracts. The iron works closed in 1876.
Ruins at Old Iron Town.
Now known as Old Irontown State Park, this area has been preserved for its distinctive structures and historical presence. In May of 1951 William R. Palmer as part of his radio broadcast “Forgotten Chapters of History” produced a program about Iron City. You can listen to that broadcast here.
Frontier Homestead State Park Museum once again celebrates the founding of Cedar City with a day of activities designed to honor the spirit of our community and those that created opportunities for our growth. Come and enjoy the cool crisp fall air on Saturday November 5th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm as Frontier Homestead hosts its annual Iron Mission Days. The cost is $5.00 per family.
Enjoy tasty treats from our wood fired earth oven and cook stove.
This year the Park is excited to highlight two new features of the Homestead – the Hunter House Summer Kitchen and the Native Heritage Exhibit. For the past two years many people have worked diligently to bring these projects to fruition. Partnerships and support from the Cedar City RAP Tax, the Division of Utah Arts and Museums, and Southern Utah University helped make these new exhibits possible. Todd Prince, Park Manager, said, “The addition of the summer kitchen and Native Heritage Exhibit greatly increased our capacity to offer more variety of activities to our visitors. These will be prized for years to come. And with the completion of the back grounds of the Hunter House, we will now be able to offer a space for group rentals such as wedding receptions and family reunions. The open house on November 5th is a wonderful opportunity for the community to experience these new exhibits first hand.”
Explore the pithouse.
The Summer Kitchen will be ready for a fall appearance.
Kasey Warhurst our Museum Blacksmith will be pounding iron.
Pioneer activities, crafts for kids, living history demonstrations and tours of our Native Heritage Area and Hunter House Summer Kitchen will be available. Staff will be showcasing tomahawk throwing, goodies baked in the wood-fired oven, and our Museum Blacksmith will be on hand. Additionally, visitors will be able to practice throwing the atlatl, pitching horseshoes, and of course, making the park’s well-known rag dolls.
Can you throw a tomahawk and make it stick?
Corn grinding will be available.
Saturday November 5th promises to be a fun-filled day of adventure for the whole family. Step back in time with Frontier Homestead State Park.
Check out our website for more information: frontierhomestead.org