The Legacies of Iron County: Railroads and Tourism – The Caboose

Railroads, signified by the caboose, proved pivotal for this community. Freight trains were able to haul more raw materials than ever before, increasing profits for the mining companies. Rail traffic also brought thousands of tourists to the area each year to explore our scenic wonders. Hollywood came to Utah, travelling by train, into Cedar City. The railroad literally brought the world into our backyard.

The Caboose in it's original location, before being donating to the museum.

The Caboose in it’s original location, before being donated to the museum.

The caboose provided the train crew with shelter and working space while they threw switches and inspected for problems such as shifting loads, overheated axle bearings, and dragging equipment. The conductor used the caboose for filling out various forms and reports. On longer trips, the caboose provided living quarters.

Caboose 4618 was manufactured by Pacific Car and Foundry in 1978 and delivered to Southern Pacific.  In its heyday, Southern Pacific operated nearly 14,000 miles of track covering various routes stretching from Tennessee to California.

The body of Caboose 4618 was painted in mineral red with the bay window ends and the end walls in daylight orange, both traditional Southern Pacific colors. Cabooses in the SP system were designated C-XX-X. The “C” stood for caboose, the “XX” denoted the axle load in tons, and the final “X” represented the class, type, or design. Caboose 4618 is a C-50-7. Power for the caboose was provided by a small electrical generator mounted on the lead truck.

Moving the Caboose to Frontier Homestead.

Moving the Caboose to Frontier Homestead.

This caboose was purchased from a California rail yard in 2005 by George Lutterman. In April 2013 it was donated to Frontier Homestead State Park and moved in partnership with Iron County, Union Pacific, Construction Steel, Inc., and Gilbert Development, Inc.


The restored Caboose in front of Frontier Homestead

The restored Caboose in front of Frontier Homestead

The Legacies of Iron County

Iron County exists because those who lived here developed the resources necessary for survival in this desert climate. The three legacies passed down by early settlers and their descendants — agriculture, mining, and railroads— are represented at Frontier Homestead State Park.

agricultureAgriculture, symbolized by the hay derrick, became the foundation of the local community. When early mining operations ceased, Iron County residents turned to sheep and cattle to provide needed trade goods. Today, the region still has a vibrant and expanding agricultural lifestyle.



MININGMining, represented by the ore shovel, is the industry that began it all, proving to be the initial motive for settlement. In 1923, the mines began producing ore by the tons and elevated Iron County to one of the richest counties in the Utah for nearly 50 years. Recently, the mines have reopened and the tradition continues.



TOURISMRailroads, signified by the caboose, proved pivotal for this community. Freight trains were able to haul more raw materials than ever before, increasing profits for the mining companies. Rail traffic also brought thousands of tourists to the area each year to explore our scenic wonders. Hollywood came to Utah, travelling by train, into Cedar City. The railroad literally brought the world into our backyard.

In the next few weeks, we will individually highlight each of these legacies. If you are in Cedar City, we invite you to explore, discover, and remember the legacies that transformed our community. They are a testament to our past and guideposts to our future.

Valentine’s Day – by Staff Intern Maureen Carlson

Valentine’s Day, as we know, is a day of love and romance. Lovers give each other flowers, candies, chocolates, and plan special dates. Over 200 million Valentine’s cards are exchanged each year and that number doesn’t even account for all the cards exchanged in schools! In elementary schools across the country, children make special boxes for goodies and bring cards and candy with “Will you be my Valentine?” plastered all over them. But what started this grand tradition in the United States?

Most valentine traditions we know of were brought overseas by European immigrants, which then began to spread. Lovers would often send valentines in the form of handwritten notes back and forth to each other during Revolutionary and Civil War times. The Kansas Museum of History has a few Civil War valentines included in their collection. These two images here, “Faithful in Death” and “My Love” were sent to Elizabeth Ehrhart from her fiance, Joseph Forrest, who was a soldier in the Civil War. While both of these valentines are quite sad, they portray the deep love and faithfulness that Joseph had for his sweet love, Elizabeth.

My Love - Courtesy of the Kansas History Museum

My Love – Courtesy of the Kansas Museum of History

Faithful in Death - Courtesy of the Kansas History Museum

Faithful in Death – Courtesy of the Kansas Museum of History








The Puzzle Purse

The Puzzle Purse

One type of valentine that was sent between loved ones was called the Puzzle Purse. It started in the 1700’s and became especially popular during the Victorian era. The Puzzle Purse is an origami style valentine where lovers could write special messages or include secret codes inside. Lovers could even place small gifts of love inside as well, such as a ring. If you click the following link, you can find out more about the history of this unique valentine as well as watch a video on how to make it yourself for someone that you love!

The Romantic History of the Puzzle Purse Valentine

letterThis letter and envelope with intricate detailing drawn around the outside is a valentine’s letter exchanged between sisters Lavinia and Emily Dickinson during the time of the California Gold Rush.

Mass production of actual Valentine’s Day cards, as opposed to handwritten letters, began after the end of the Victorian era in the early 1900’s, when exchanging love messages had picked up in popularity.


The thing that makes Valentine’s Day so great is that it is so versatile. Couples can make the holiday special for themselves depending on their own styles and interests. There isn’t just one event that everyone takes part in, such as trick-or-treating on Halloween. There are so many unique ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day that will make it special for you and your loved ones. So go out and kiss your loved ones and tell them you love them. Maybe share some chocolate or a delicious dinner. My favorite is listening to scary stories from old time radio stations by candlelight with my husband. You can even choose simply to do nothing at all. Just make the day your own. Also, remember that chocolates go on sale the day after Valentine’s Day *wink wink*. Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!


Cedar City: A Look Back – The Carnegie Library

Carnegie portrait that hung in the library. Now in the collection of Frontier Homestead State Park

Carnegie portrait that hung in the library. Now in the collection of Frontier Homestead State Park

This impressive structure was built in 1914 on property adjacent to the Cedar City Tabernacle on Center Street and Main. The building ceased being used as a public library in 1957 and was purchased by the State Bank of Southern Utah in 1966 for $35,000. Having been vacated in 1969, the building was torn down in 1970.

For a more detailed account of the Library’s construction and development click the following link: Cedar City Library History


Cedar City's Carnegie Library

Cedar City’s Carnegie Library

The Carnegie Library sat just to the left of the Tabernacle.

The Carnegie Library sat just to the left of the Tabernacle.

Forgotten Chapters of History: Home Manufacture

Home manufacturers on the job.

Home manufacturers on the job.

During the 1950’s Cedar City historian and businessman William R. Palmer had a weekly radio program on local radio station KSUB. During his show, Forgotten Chapters of History, Palmer told tales of local history and sometimes covered other topics. Thanks to Special Collections at the Sherratt Library on the campus of Southern Utah University, many of these programs are available to listen to. On November 9, 1952, Palmer presented the story of Home Manufacture in Southern Utah.  Click the links and enjoy making something yourself as you listen to Forgotten Chapters of History.

Palmer’s audio broadcast “Home Manufacture” 11/09/52

Taking the sheep home.

Taking the sheep home.

Step one in the manufacturing process.

Step one in the manufacturing process.

Exploring our Collection: Nathaniel Pryor’s Captain’s Chair

Pryor's Captain's Chair

Pryor’s Captain’s Chair

On the morning of Friday, January 13th, a new addition made its way to the Frontier Homestead: The Captain’s Chair of Nathaniel West Pryor. The chair was donated by Margaret Pryor Williams, a great-granddaughter of Mr. Pryor.

Nathaniel W. Pryor was born in Jefferson County, Alabama on October 31, 1833. As a teenager, he became a cattle driver for a company headed for the California Gold Rush and stayed until 1857, when he began his journey back home to Alabama.  Pryor made a stop in the small town of Cedar City, Utah and attended a dance held for Latter-day Saint, or Mormon, community members. At the dance, he pointed out a pretty Mormon girl to his friends and declared, “That is the girl I am going to marry.” Pryor was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on April 6 of that year and married Jane Ann Giles before the year was over. Jane, was that pretty girl which he had pointed out to his friends. He never returned to Alabama.

Nathaniel West Pryor

Nathaniel West Pryor

In 1862, Pryor, along with his youngest brother, Green Berg Pryor, served during the Civil War for the Union Army. His other three brothers, John Henry Pryor, Milton Stokes Pryor, and Benjamin Franklin Pryor fought for the Confederate Army. After he was relieved of duty, Pryor joined the police force in St. Louis. Missouri. Pryor and Jane Anne Giles had 8 children together, two of which survived to adulthood. Pryor and Jane Ann moved back to Cedar City, Utah, where they first met, to make a permanent residence together. She had been very ill for quite some time and passed on October 23, 1872, shortly after Nathaniel had been elected Constable for Cedar Precinct (August 5, 1872).

1897 Cedar City Ballot

1897 Cedar City Ballot

Pryor Home

Pryor Home

On January 8, 1874, Pryor married Margaret Evans who had two daughters from a previous marriage, Jane and Catherine. Together, the Pryors had six additional children. On August 2, 1888, Pryor was elected Justice of the Peace. He served in this position until 1902. Pryor and his second wife, Margaret Evans, were married for 42 years. Nathaniel Pryor passed away on January 11, 1916 and to our knowledge is the only veteran of the Civil War buried in the Cedar City Cemetery.

Nathaniel West Pryor's headstone

Nathaniel West Pryor’s headstone

Book Review: At Home – A Short History of Private Life

As the year is just beginning, we thought we would, from time to time, share with you what we here at Frontier Homestead are reading. Our first review comes from our long-time staffer Stephen J. Olsen. We encourage you to share with us your favorite reads as the year progresses.

at-home-bill-brysonFor those who wonder from time to time why something is called what it is called; how and when it was called that; when did what we are commonly familiar with become familiar; and for those who are curious about the progression of society from the so called primitive to the so called refined or civilized, read Bill Bryson’s book At Home, A Short History of Private Life.

Have you ever wondered when you walk down a hall, why it is called a hall, and when did they start calling it a hall. Do you live or have you lived in a two story house, or at least been in a two story house? When did such structures become popular and how did that all come about? Or should the question be phrased: which came first the second story or the chimney? What does a chimney have to do with multiple story houses? During the Victorian era in the United States, there were “ten levels” or types mattress available. Down, feathers, wool, wool-flock, hair, cotton, wood shavings, sea moss, sawdust, and straw. Which would you have preferred? Which could you have afforded?

Mr. Bryson gives the answers to these questions and a great deal of information about daily living. Bryson unveils this information by leading the reader through a small, common house room by room. Bryson uses his home in England, which had belonged to Reverend Thomas Marsham in 1851. Using Bryson’s words, the house “looks the way a house should look. It has a homely air. So it is perhaps slightly surprising to reflect that nothing about his house, or any house, in inevitable. Everything has to be thought of, door, window, chimneys, stairs, and a good deal of that, as we are about to see, took far more time and experimentation than you might ever have thought.”

The Hunter House, our own historic home.

The Hunter House, our own historic home.

Bryson sets up the book, beginning with the time period of the building of Thomas Marsham’s house. Then Bryson details the setting, England. Beginning with chapter three, Bryson takes the reader room by room, each chapter a different room. The Hall, The Kitchen, The Fuse Box, The Drawing Room and so forth to the Attic. For us Americans, Bryson relates the house to the United States as well. He does point out where there were unique differences in things or names in the USA and England during the Victorian Era. This reader found the book to be fascinating, chuck-a-block-full of wonderful information and insight. The book is an easy read, well written, and organized. Once you have read the book you will be a wiz at trivia, a wonder at parties, and educated in the common things of life associated with the house you live in.

I’ve not begun to reveal a thousandth part of what Bill Bryson’s At Home contains. But I hope I’ve sparked an interest in you to beg, borrow, don’t steal, just borrow and don’t return the book for decades, or buy a copy of the book. If you have a bit of inkling for history, interest in facts, or just a good read with some humor, you should enjoy the book.

Cedar City: A Look Back

Throughout 2017 we will be featuring an historic photo of Cedar City each month. This month, a wintry scene of Main Street looking south from the corner of 200 North. This photo was taken in the 1930’s.  Cedar’s Main Street has been the city’s main thoroughfare for the  majority of its existence. Businesses and buildings of yesteryear are displayed in this photo. Angled street parking, skewed mileage signs, and , now classic, automobiles provide a sense of nostalgia to the life-long residents of this community.


Buckskin Breeches

Here are a few stories taken from “History of Iron County Mission and Parowan” by Luella Dalton. Enjoy this look back.

The first is from John Henderson. “Once, Wm. C McGregor and I went after a load of wood up over the Hogback. I was wearing a fine new pair of buckskin breeches. Our oxen made good time, and when we were ready to start up the hill to chop our wood, it started to rain. I knew if my buckskin breeches got wet, they would be ruined, so I took them off, carefully folded them and placed them in a hollow tree that had been struck with lightning. The I proceeded to chop my wood in my hickory shirt made of home-spun cotton. Then I snaked my wood down the hillside and loaded my wagon. The rain was nearly over, so I donned my buckskin pants and drove home.”

Morgan Richards says, “I thought I was pretty smart when I put on my first pair of buckskin pants and went up the canyon to work on Uncle Nattie’s saw mill. When it started to rain, my pants began to stretch so I cut off a little here and a little there, then a little more and more as they continued to lengthen. When the sun began to shine, my pants began to climb higher and higher as they dried out, and my beautiful new trousers were nothing more than knee pants.”