The Southwestern Heritage Center Historical Society was formed as a Nonprofit Corporation on November 23, 2021 and is now a 501 (c) 3. The goal is to provide a safe, family friendly environment where citizens, new move-ins, children, youth, senior citizens, and tourists participate in hands-on experiences tied to different aspects of our southwestern heritage. A wise man said, “If we don’t know where we come from, we can’t get back home.” A secondary goal is for every citizen in and tourist to the area to pay to visit the Center, with their family, by 2030. We believe the Center will become a destination, helping individuals remember the trails, places, and people today’s society is built on, while contemplating ways to improve the trails, places, and people tomorrow’s society will be built on. This is our heritage. See Here for a July 2022 status report.
Southwestern Utah, and especially Cedar City, is going through a third wave of population growth. The first wave was the pioneers in the 1850’s. The second was following World War II, and the growth of mining and manufacturing. New population growth seems politically driven. The new settlers to Southern Utah are arriving with a cultural heritage radically different from the pioneer heritage of the multi-generational residents here in Utah, and still, in general, new move-ins appear interested to learn about the local heritage. The Cedar City area is awash in history. A majority of long-term citizens in the community and in Iron County are interested in documenting, sharing, and using local history to guide better decision making going forward. As we welcome new citizens, it is important to provide them ways to culturally integrate. We also need to enhance visits of tourists to the National & State Parks & Shakespeare Theater.
The Southwestern Heritage Center will be a destination where this happens. There will be 60,000+ square-feet of facilities (03 March 2022 possible design) at the convergence of over 20 important historic trails at Iron Springs, 8 miles west of Cedar City. The best known is the Old Spanish National Historic Trail. The land, gravel base and grading, water, power, and part of the building structure are being donated by Frank Nichols. The Center will be integrated into his plans for Iron Springs Adventure Resort. The building will will be designed to house some of the 300 pioneer era wagons restored and owned by the Wagon Land Adventure Foundation, currently in Tremonton, Utah. It will also house a pioneer era rife and pistol collection, and several hundred engines rebuilt and collected by Al Matheson. Other pioneer and Indian artifacts will be included in the museum. This museum component of the Southwestern Heritage Center will also include rocks, minerals, and gems collected from Southwestern Utah by the Southern Utah Rock Club. SURC will move their rock cutting and polishing facility to the Center, where members and visitors will be able to cut and polish rocks found in Southwestern Utah. They will hold their monthly meetings of 300+ members at the Center, schedule monthly rock hounding trips through the Center, and coordinate bus tours to the Wrey Mineral Collection in Milford, Utah, and possibly move their annual Rock Show to the Center.
Three historical groups, (1) the Cedar City Chapter of the Sons of the Utah Pioneers (SUP), (2) the Iron County Camps of The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers (DUP), and (3) the Iron County Historical Society will have offices, meeting rooms, space to store donated artifacts, and museum displays at the Center. Each group will provide docents to explain the heritage at and around the Center. The Paiute Indian Tribe is invited to hold Pow Wows and to participate in reenactments at the Center. An outdoor diorama will describe each of the historical trails going through Iron Springs, and point visitors to walking, equestrian, wagon, bike, motor cross, OHV (Off Highway Vehicle), and other trails and outdoor activities explaining and helping visitors experience and learn of Southwestern Utah heritage. Outdoor recreation activities will include a Petting Zoo, hiking trails, rock hounding, rock climbing, horse riding, and bicycle trails.
The Southwestern Heritage Center location is adjacent to a planned 75-foot wide road connecting to Iron Springs Road along Sage Road off of the new I-15 Business loop from Kanaraville to Enoch. The land is flat and currently covered with sagebrush, as shown by photos from the southeast corner to the west and north, and from the southwest corner to the east and north. There are Three-Phases of planned land donation to the Center by Frank Nichols. The dimensions of the First Phase 6 acre donation includes a planned outdoor Wagon Wheel Plaza and 100 foot x 300 foot historic wagon barn. The Wagon Wheel Plaza will include descriptions of each of the Historic Trails and maps to modern hiking, bike, wagon, and OHV trails going through the Iron Springs area.
One of first things SWHC plans to do is to connect to existing BLM Bike Trails and other hiking, bike, wagon, and OHV trails in Cedar Valley to the Center. Outdoor recreation is a key component of the Center’s plans. We envision Iron County Schools bringing children out to learn of the history of the area. Tying historical trails and descriptions to a location provides an impetus for expanding outdoor recreation. There were three of the historical trails in the area which did not go through Iron Springs (Escalante 1776, Freemont 1854, and possibly Francher 1857). However, they were within a few miles and can still be visited and walked or biked to from the Center. While the original trails were probably closer to the mountains on the north than the location of the planned Wagon Wheel Plaza, each of these historic trails went within eyesight of the Wagon Wheel Plaza. Note the red outline to the center west is a hiking trail currently accessible from Iron Springs Adventure Resort Motel. The yellow outline shows the planned path for a wagon trail around the springs and back to the Heritage Center. If some or all of Eli Anderson’s historic wagons come from Tremonton, it is fun to imagine wagon and stagecoach rides with American Indian attacks, or bank robber holdups. Tourists and visitors will pay a lot to experience wild west events like these.