Historic Tour

Taking the Tour: Along the Route of the Tooele Valley Railroad
This tour was created as part of the Spike150 project to commemorate the importance of railroad history in Utah. Thank you to everyone who gave suggestions and comments on how to improve our tour. 

  • This tour was created for everyone. Its design gives you the option of choosing what kind of tour you want to have. Think of it as a create-your-own-adventure experience. You can walk, ride, or drive. Start at any stop and take them in any order. At each stop there are options to decide what topic you want to learn about.
  • If you walk from the golf course to City Park and back, you will have walked 3.1 miles or 5 kilometers. That is almost 7,000 steps! Check out Tooele’s new bike routes on Vine Street. If you opt to walk, there are sidewalks almost the entire route. There are several lovely parks along the route to take a break.
  • There are parking lots at each stop. These are a good location for reading the tour materials. Please don’t read and drive! Also, please use caution while crossing roads.
  • Let us know what you thought of the tour. Did it bring back any memories you want to share?
Get started by selecting one of the stops below!
Historic Tour Map
Historic Tour (.pdf)
Oquirrh Hills Golf Course
Stop at Oquirrh Hills Golf Course
Oquirrh Hills ImageJust east of the Golf Course is the Tooele Valley Railroad trestle. Here at the Oquirrh Golf Course you can play a round of golf and get a glimpse into Tooele’s Mining History. If you walk to the south side of the golf course and look out towards the northeast, you will see the area over which the Tooele Valley Railroad traveled back and forth from the International Smelter & Refining Company facility.

Look for the old train trestle east of the golf course main building.  It was filled in with rock to increase stability. Next, look up at the mountains and find the white "T". You will learn more about the "T" in the section entitled "Learn about the Home of the Buffaloes"  under our City Parks section.                                                                                               
Learn about Tooele's Smelter
For over sixty years, smoke rose from the smelter in Pine Canyon. The International Smelter and Refining Company produced copper, lead, and zinc from the ore scratched out of mountains in the American West. The smelter company and those that supported it were primary economic forces in Tooele Valley.

In 1900, the town of Tooele boasted 1,200 residents and was snuggled against the Oquirrh Mountains. This geography greatly influenced the economic development of the town in the 20th century. Mining and smelting had already become a big business in Salt Lake City by the dawn of the century. However, the geography of Salt Lake Valley was inhospitable to the operation of smelters because the fumes from the stacks could not always escape the valley easily. 

To avoid the complications that came from people’s outrage over the smelter smoke, Utah Consolidated Mining looked elsewhere to place a much-needed regional smelter. Pine Canyon was and ideal location for many reasons. The geography of Tooele Valley did not concentrate smoke like that of Salt Lake Valley. The slope of the canyon pushed the stacks high enough their toxic smoke did not float right down into the town of Tooele. The valley was still largely unpopulated. The 1900 census indicates less than 3,000 residents in the entire valley. Finally, the canyon was on the west side of the Oquirrh Mountains almost directly across from prosperous mines on the east.

In 1908, Utah Consolidated incorporated the International Smelting and Refining Company, which built the smelter and had it online in less than a year extracting copper from local ore. A few years later, the company added lead extraction facilities. The company hired hundreds of employees that moved to the area to work at the smelter and the railroad that connected it to the Union Pacific junction. The railroad company was the Tooele Valley Railroad, and you can find more about it at the Tooele Valley Museum stop. 

In the 1930s and 1940s, the smelter ownership changed hands a couple times. By the mid-1940s, Anaconda Copper Company owned the smelter. The new owners swept Tooele’s smelter further into international economic trade.

By the late 1960s, the smelter was under pressure. International economic trends in the copper industry greatly affected the smelter’s profitability.  Pollution prevention laws began to put increasing pressure on the company to upgrade equipment. Anaconda’s copper investments in Chile affected the entire company. When the Chilean government nationalized its copper industry, Anaconda lost millions. To recover, Anaconda sought to downsize or close less profitable facilities. International Smelting and Refining Company was on their list. By 1971, the smelter ceased operations and a chapter in the history of Tooele ended. 

International Utah ImageRailroad Entrance into the International Smelter, Tooele Valley Museum Collection Big Wheels Image Some of the “Big Wheels”, Tooele Valley Museum Collection International Smelter ImageInternational Smelter and Refining Company shortly after lead refining facilities built 1911, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection

Learn about Building Tunnels Under the Mountain
The International Smelting & Refining Company became part of National Tunnel and Mines Company in 1937 at the end of the Great Depression. James Elton believed that consolidating would increase efficiency of local mining companies. He also wanted to build a tunnel under the Oquirrh Mountains to connect various mines. Elton planned for a tunnel 4.5 miles long that began north of the smelter and continued under the mountain. During the project, workers discovered a fissure under the mountain that prevented the tunnel from being completed. The failed, expensive tunnel project contributed to the bankruptcy of the company.

In World War II, the United States and her allies needed zinc to build weapons. Zinc could be processed from the slag (waste material of smelters) already at the smelter. So, the company added zinc-processing facilities. By this time, the smelter became an important asset to the mining industry because other regional smelters closed. 

In 1948, Anaconda Copper, an international mining company specializing in copper, bought the smelter and railroad. Becoming part of Anaconda meant becoming more directly connected to the international mining industry. Anaconda began making changes like ending 24-hour railway services.

Elton Tunnel Image Elton Dedication PhotoElton Tunnel Dedication 1939, J. Willard Marriott Library University of Utah Inside Elton Tunnel PhotoElton Tunnel 1936, Courtesy of J. Willard Marriott Library University of Utah

St. Marguerite's Church
Stop at St. Marguerite's Catholic Church
As you stand in the parking lot of St. Marguerite’s Catholic Church, look northwest. This is New Town, a neighborhood built at the beginning of the 20th century that became home to many immigrants to Tooele to work in the mining industry. Strong community bonds formed over the decades and still exist to some today.

Saint Marguerites Church PhotoSt. Marguerite’s Catholic Church
Fifth Street PhotoNorth 5th Street, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection St Marguerites Original PhotoSt. Marguerite’s Original Building 1910, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection

Learn about Immigrant Communities in Tooele
Smelter Workers Photo
Smelter Workers ca. 1910, Tooele Valley Museum Collection

One hurdle to opening the International Smelter and Mining Company was the lack of industrial labor in Tooele Valley. To overcome the problem, United Consolidated Mines recruited hundreds of workers from throughout American, Southern Europe, and Eastern Europe. The workers arrived with their families in 1909 and nearly doubled the population of the city. The migrant and immigrant families’ cultures and languages varied. Like other mining towns in Utah, Tooele became one of the most culturally diverse towns in Utah for a while. Massive immigration numbers had already been an issue in larger American cities for decades, but Tooele was a small agricultural town settled and still populated by farmers most of which were part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The meeting of very different cultures on the foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains created a tumultuous social climate for decades.

So many new homes had to be built for the new smelter workers a whole neighborhood sprang up. One could hear Greek, Italian, and Croatian along with English on the streets. New churches communities were organized, such as the Greek Orthodox and Catholic churches. There was also a new school for the neighborhood, Plat C School, which the children of the immigrant workers attended until 1929. Broadway became the main street in New Town. Along it, there were grocers, bakers, hotels, restaurants, and barbershops. Because of language and culture barriers, the new Tooeleans tended to stay in their own neighborhood. 

By the 1930s, Tooeelans, old and new, were learning how to bridge the cultural differences. Local historian Ouida Blanthorn credits local high school football coach Sterling Harris with helping to build bridges. He recruited young men from New Town to play on the Tooele High School football team. The sons of the immigrant workers helped to win state championships in football in 1928, 1929, and 1930.

Ruth Apartments Photo
Ruth Apartments at Broadway and Birch 1910, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection
Fifth Street PhotoNorth 5th Street 1910, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection Commercial Company on Broadway Photo
Tooele Commercial Company at Broadway and Elm 1910, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection
PhotoTooele Valley Museum Collection Photo
Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Fire Insurance Map
New Town Sanborn Fire Insurance Map 1910, Library of Congress Digital Collection
Learn about St. Marguerite's Catholic Church
The Catholic Church has been functioning in various forms in Tooele County since the 1860s. In the mid-19th century, priests would visit the mining camps to minister. So many of the smelter workers practiced Catholicism that a regular mass began to be held in Tooele in 1910. The same year, St. Marguerite’s Parish Church was built on Utah Avenue, which is a few blocks north of where the present church stands.  The church bell that was hung in new church had been in the church of St. Mary Magdalene in Salt Lake City, the first Catholic Church in Utah Territory.  For forty years, the bell had called the emerging Salt Lake Catholic community to worship before it moved to Tooele to help another Catholic community grow.

By 1959, the current church building began. The planned facilities would be larger and a parochial school was added. Unfortunately, the original loan only covered 40% of the work, so building stopped. In 1973, work began again on a new complex. When it was completed, the bell from the first St. Marguerite’s church building was moved to the new building.

St. Marguerites has had strong influence in the Catholic community of the county. In 1981, the church opened a pre-school. By 1994, the teaching faculty included four teachers and the school had added kindergarten classes. The church has also helped establish a Catholic church in Wendover.

St Marguerites Original Photo
St. Marguerite’s Original Building 1910, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection
St Marguerites Cornerstone PhotoLaying the Cornerstone of St. Marguerite’s Catholic Church First Building 1910, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection St Marguerites Interior PhotoInterior of St. Marguerite’s First Building 1910, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection
Tooele Valley Museum & Historic Park
Stop at Tooele Valley Museum and Historic Park
Behind the big fence is the Tooele Valley Railway depot. If the entrance gate to the depot is open, head on in. Tooele Valley Museum operates in the old depot complex, and the entire facility is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places.

The museum focuses on industrial and military history in the 20th century, and the primary collections are military and industrial objects and manuscripts. To the north of the depot are two Air Force railway cars from the WWII era. The Tooele Army Depot donated them to the museum in the early 1980s.The car nearest Broadway was a medical car.  Inside is an old Red Cross Station. The other car was a dining car. The kitchen is still inside!

The museum opened in 1983 after the owner of the railway, Atlantic Richfield Company (ARC0) donated the entire facility to Tooele City.

The museum is a family friendly place to explore, play, and learn. 

Railroad Museum Photo Steam Engine PhotoSteam Engine Exposition, Tooele Valley Museum Collection Engine 11 PhotoEngine 11 heading through town, Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Learn about Tooele Valley Railroad
Built in 1908, the railway carried ore and passengers to and from the smelter and the Union Pacific/Western Pacific Junction. Less than 7 miles, the track began at the smelter went down into the valley to the golf course. Then, it cut through the neighborhood between the golf course and the railway depot.  After leaving the depot, the tracks went down Vine Street to the Union Pacific Junction. The train went through the middle of downtown Tooele several times a day.

The purpose of the railway was primarily for hauling freight and workers between the Union Pacific junction, Tooele Depot, and the smelter. The depot at the Union Pacific Junction was called the Warner Depot, and it was torn down. Check out the bonus stops to learn more about it.

The brick building inside the depot complex is the administrative building. Tooele Valley Railway Company (TVRwy) staff kept records of the rolling stock used and how much freight was on the train that are still stored in the building. The rolling stock was mostly stored at the smelter. The TVRwy provided passenger service when it first started operating, but it was never a huge part of the operation though and was discontinued after WWII. The train stopped running in the late 1970s after helping with the dismantling of the International Smelter & Refining Company.

South of the depot is Engine 11. This big black steam engine is the last of the four steam engines the railway used. Near the engine are the cabooses and the snowplow that were also used when the railroad operated. You can still walk along the original track throughout the park.

The house on the corner was home to the section foreman and his family. Several families lived in the house until the museum took it over. The first was John Warner, who helped build the railroad. Head over to the Tooele Valley Museum website to learn more about him.

Railway Workers PhotoEngineers and Railway Workers Posing with Engine 11, Tooele Valley Museum Collection Fire Insurance Map Tooele Depot Sanborn Fire Insurance Map 1910, Library of Congress Digital Collection Coal Loader PhotoCoal Loader, Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Dropping Workers Off PhotoDropping Workers off at the Smelter, Tooele Valley Museum Collection Caboose PhotoCaboose, Tooele Valley Museum Collection Engine 11 PhotoEngine 11 at the Tooele Valley Museum
Learn about the Train and the City
People who lived in Tooele before the 1980s tell great stories about the train. Some say that women who lived in the neighborhood complained about the train. When they hung their laundry out to dry, the train would come by and spew spoke and ashes all over the fresh clean clothes.

Others tell stories of their childhood. As kids, they would break the rules, jump on the back of the slow moving train, and ride it from one side of town to the other. The engineer would yell at them to get off every time.

Engine Pushing Caboose Photo
The engine pushing the caboose back up the mountain, Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Railway Schedule Photo
Railway Schedule, Tooele Valley Museum Collection

Video footage of the Tooele Valley Railway, Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Pioneer Plaza
Stop at Pioneer Plaza
Standing at Main and Vine streets, you are in the heart of Tooele City’s downtown. On the northeast corner is the Pioneer Plaza, which includes Old City Hall and Tooele Carnegie library. These buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the buildings are joined by an annex and form the Tooele Pioneer Museum operated by both the Daughters and Sons of the Utah Pioneers. You can visit this fantastic museum at various times throughout the year. Visit the website for current hours and images of their interesting collection. www.tooelepioneermuseum.org/

Along Main Street are mostly newer businesses in older buildings.  Stroll along the as you will and check out the small independently owned businesses and organizations that call downtown home.

Pioneer Museum Photo Previous Tooele City Hall PhotoTooele City Hall in the 1980s, City Hall National Register Application
Carnegie Library PhotoCarnegie Library before 1970s, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection Tooele Main Street PhotoMain Street, Utah Power & Light Company; Tooele Drug Company; Fraternal Hall; I. G. A. Stores; Sevin’s 1939, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection
Learn about Tooele's Old City Hall
In the fall of 1851, a few families left Salt Lake Valley and headed to Tooele to make a home. By 1853, the settlers had enough success that their community was officially incorporated as a town, one of the first in Utah.  Pioneer Tooeleans encountered a number of trials and difficulties trying to create a settlement. The winds were harsh, crickets ate their crops, and the tribes that originally used the land were not happy about the pioneers’ choice to settle in the valley.

The Old City Hall building (the building with the bell) was built in 1867 from red sandstone.  It served as the Tooele County Courthouse because Tooele had recently been voted as the county seat.  The building is a great example of the architectural style “Greek Revival inspired temple form stone building.” It is the oldest and best-preserved standing example of this style in Utah.

The building has been used consistently throughout Tooele’s history. Originally, it was a two-room building and basement, which contained cells for criminals. In 1871, it was enlarged and used as Tooele City Hall as well. The first Tooele Fire Department was housed next door.

A new, bigger county courthouse was built in 1899, and Tooele City used the building as City Hall until 1941. In 1942, Tooele City leased the building to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers to use as a museum. In the 1970s, an annex was built attaching it to the Carnegie Library. Over the years, the Daughters of Utah Pioneers have had pioneer cabins moved to the site to help retain the structures and better tell the story of Tooele’s pioneers.

Previous Tooele City Hall Photo
City Hall in the Early 1980s, courtesy National Register of Historic Places Application
Previous City Hall PhotoTooele City Hall 1933, Courtesy Library of Congress
Tooele County Commissioners 1874, Tooele Valley Museum Collection
First City Council Photo
First Tooele City Council, Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Fire Department Member Charter Photo
Charter Members of Tooele Fire Department, Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Learn about Tooele's Carnegie Library
Tooele city has long supported local education and culture. The Tooele City Library Association was incorporated in 1864 to “establish a library of books, maps, charts, and scientific instruments. ”A library board member encouraged the city to apply for a grant from the Andrew Carnegie Library Foundation to build a dedicated building. Using the $5000 grant, Tooele built its first library building, and the Tooele Carnegie Library opened in May 1911. By 1957, the library had over 8,000 books in its collection.

Libraries are so common today that people often take for granted a city will have one. In the late 19th century, a small town library was rare. Andrew Carnegie story epitomizes the American immigrant success story. He came to America very poor, educated himself, worked hard to build a steel empire, and became the richest man of this day. While he was a ruthless businessman that showed little mercy to his many low paid industrial workers during his career, later in life he became one of America’s most important philanthropists. The Carnegie libraries made it social mobility possible for millions of people because members of the working class had access to education. Many Carnegie libraries are still vibrant community centers.   

A new library opened in 2000 on the west side of downtown. To transfer the book collection, the children of Tooele formed a line from the old library to the new. They handed each book from one hand to the other until they were all safely relocated. 

This building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of 16 remaining Carnegie Libraries still standing in Utah. In the entire state, cities built 23 Carnegie libraries. At some point, the exterior brick was painted white. Although some popular fashion designers like this look, it is not what is best for historic buildings. In 2019, Tooele City had the white paint removed and the grout repaired on the building so it would look the same as the original builders intended.

Carnegie Library PhotoCarnegie Library before 1970s, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection Carnegie Library Painting
Painting of Carnegie Library located in the Tooele City Library
Andrew Carnegie PhotoAndrew Carnegie 1913, Library of Congress Digital Collection
Learn about Main Street Tooele
Peek down Main Street and get a feel for the architecture of the buildings as you go. Tooele’s downtown is not very large, but there are some special buildings. One is the Ritz Theater. This delightful old theater closed its doors in 2023. It is still a joy to drive by and look at the classic marquee and ticket booth.  

Main and Vine PhotoMain & Vine Streets April 1910, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection Main Street 1942 PhotoTooele Main Street 1942, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection
Main Street West MapTooele W Main Street 1910 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, Library of Congress Digital Collection Main Street East MapTooele E Main Street 1910 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, Library of Congress Digital Collection
Veteran's Memorial Park
Stop at Veterans Memorial
At the southwest corner of Main and Vine, you can see Veterans Memorial Park, the Kirk Hotel, and the place where the original ticket booth for the Tooele Valley Railroad once stood.

Veterans Park Photo Veterans Park Photo

While you are at the park stop and view the newest addition, Seek On.

Seek On Veterans Statue Photo
Seek On, Marvin Hitesman, 2020, Bronze

“Silent hunters speeding through the jungle to “tag” the elusive enemy as if they were following a trail of bloody footprints. These were the combat tracker teams of the US Army in Vietnam. They were the inheritors of the best of British anti-terrorist veteran’s knowledge. These young American volunteers became the answer to “Where did the enemy go?” The North Vietnamese Army and Vietnamese Communists were thought to disappear into the terrain. Five men and one labrador retriever were the answer to turn the shadows into targets, obtain critical intelligence, and retrieve captured “friendlies”. Once their tours of duty finished, they returned to a very ungrateful public, their records wrapped in red-tape, and sequestered from one another. The combat tracker teams were the unique solution to asymmetric war issue – how to find and fix the enemy no matter where they thought to hide”.
- Marvin Hitesman
Learn about Tooele's Military Ties

Veterans Memorial Park is on the southwest corner of Main and Vine. Tooele County has a long, prestigious history of hosting military institutions. Closest to Tooele City is the Tooele Army Depot that was built during WWII as an Ordnance Depot.  Decades later towards the end of the Cold War, it was the location for a chemical weapons dismantling program. If you are in Tooele on a Wednesday afternoon at 4 pm, you can still hear the emergency warning system test every week. Further from town, the Dugway Proving Ground is a weapons testing site. If you care to take a bit of a road trip, you can head out to Historic Wendover Airbase where bomber groups trained in WWII. It is the most intact WWII airbase in existence in the United States.  It is also where the Enola Gay flight team trained before their journey to Japan to drop the first atomic bomb in August 1945.

Military presence in Tooele Valley goes back further than WWII.  Before Brigham Young declared that Salt Lake Valley was where his group of migrants would stop, the U.S. Army explored the area.  In fact, it soldiers first mined in the Oquirrh Mountains.

This memorial is here to remember those who served and sacrificed for the United States of America. Take a few minutes to reflect and relax in this beautiful, serene space.

Tooele Army Depot PhotoTooele Army Depot ca. 1963, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection Weapons Display PhotoDisplay of Weapons at the Tooele Ordnance Sub-Depot ca 1940s, Utah State History Society Digital Collection Tooele Army Depot PhotoTooele Army Depot, Tooele Valley Museum Collection


Learn about a Fancy Hotel's Fate
The Kirk hotel on the southwest side of Vine was built in 1928. An application for placement on the National Register of Historic Places explains that it is indicative of the “boom and bust” economic cycle experienced by mining communities. When it was built, it was a fine hotel, but it was in a small city.

Its original owner was Phillip Kirk (1882-1936), who was born in England to a poor family. At the tender age of 8, he began working in a brick factory. After a couple years, he came to America with a group of Mormon Pioneers and arrived in Salt Lake City in 1862. His father worked in Tooele’s mines until 1926. Phillip Kirk struck it rich in the local mine industry, and later decided to build a hotel in his hometown. The Tooele Transcript-Bulletin reported that International Smelting and Refining Company provided some backing for the hotel.

The newspaper described the hotel as, “modern to the last let[t]er..from the modern heating plant under the basement floor to the spacious ball room on the top story. The new structure is of three stories, brick and cement construction and entirely fireproof throughout.  It has modern equipment in the kitchen, lobby and elsewhere… The main dining room has capacity for 200, which an additional fifty can be accommodated in the club dining room…it represents an investment of about $150,000.”

Served at the opening banquet was, “peerless mist, cocktail, consommé, Fillet of Sole and tartare sauce, baked chicken and dressing, au Gratin Potatoes, sliced tomatoes, strawberries and cream cake, coffee, or chocolate.”

The grand hotel failed during the Great Depression. The building has operated as mixed short and long term rentals until the present. Major interior alterations were made to ensure that it could operate as an apartment building.

It is hard to believe that a hotel so grand was built in a small mining town. But, it illustrates the initial rush of prosperity that mining brought to Tooele Valley. As is usual with the mining industry, the rush could not be sustained. Fortunately, the building was maintained for us to enjoy today.

Kirk Hotel Old Photo
Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Kirk Hotel Invitation
Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Learn about Passengers on the Tooele Valley Railroad
Across Vine Street from the memorial is where the original ticket booth for the Tooele Valley Railroad once stood. Passengers could buy a 5-cent ticket there and ride down to the junction of Union Pacific/Western Pacific. From there, they could head over to Salt Lake and beyond.

Passenger services ended after World War II because it was not a very large part of Tooele Valley Railroad’s business. Increased road building and the availability of inexpensive automobiles gave people the chance to travel on their own.

Smelter Workers Photo
Smelter Workers on Passenger Coach, Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Passenger Coach Photo
Passenger Coach Tooele Valley Railroad, Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Tooele Library
Stop at the Library
At the library stop, you can see the pioneer monument, the library, and stand where the old City wall stood. You can learn more about this wall and its history in the section entitled "Learn about the Old City Wall".

If the library is open, stop in and get a drink of water. Check out the fun that is always going on in this popular community center.

Library PhotoCity Library Pioneer Memorial Photo
Pioneer Memorial
Learn about the Old City Wall

On the east side of the city library is approximately where the old city wall was located in 1860.  Built from mud, the wall was begun as a way to protect the city from local tribes. It fortified the city. According to the Pioneer Museum, the settlers ended up feeding their Native American neighbors instead and the wall was never finished.

The story of the wall helps us understand the fraught dynamic faced by early settlers and the tribes that had used the land for centuries before the pioneers arrived. Can you imagine what both sides must have felt?

The situation where a large group new people moved to the city to settle has repeated itself several times in Tooele’s history. The newcomers have wanted a place to live and exist. The older residents often wanted to continue to use the land and resources as they had always done. Both sides want their cultures and traditions to survive. One example is when the hundreds of families moved to the city to work at the smelter in the 1910s. A few decades later, it happened again when the Tooele Army Depot opened. Each time, the city has gone through growing pains. Also, each time Tooeleans learned to take the best of the situation to make the city stronger and more resilient.

At the entrance of the library is a memorial to the early pioneers. Visit the memorial and see if you recognize any of the names.

City Map from 1860Map of Tooele City 1860, Found in History of Tooele County V. II Pioneer Memorial PhotoPioneer Memorial


Learn about Reusing a Beloved Local School Building
Directly north of the library is the building that housed Central School, the local elementary school. The first Central School building was constructed in 1893. In 1929,a new building costing $300,000 replaced it. The school was three stories and had ramps that bridged the different levels.

In 1994, Central School closed to the sadness of many in Tooele. There was vigorous debate in the city about what to do with the school building. So many people had nostalgic memories connected to the building, and it is an interesting building. People wondered what to do with the space. Should it be knocked down and the property sold? Should it be reused? Should it be updated to be used as a school? Ultimately, it was converted to condominiums by a private developer.

The issues Tooeleans faced with the Central School building are common across America as cities and buildings age. Should we preserve all older buildings and reuse them? Should we just keep building new construction? What impact does preserving these old buildings have on a community? What are your thoughts?

Central School PhotoCentral School, Tooele Valley Museum Collection Photo
Tooele Valley Museum Collection

City Park
Stop at City Park
Pool Park PhotoAt this stop, you can see the where Engine 11 sat for twenty years on one side of the street. On the other is the Tooele High School, which has been operating since 1913. The city park is popular destination for festivals, concerts, play dates, and picnics.

Learn how to Move a Broken Steam Engine Down the Road

From this stop, you see the picnic pavilion. Feel free to head on over and sit down there. Engine 11 stood sentinel over the park from the 1964 until it was moved back to the depot in 1983. It was a monument to the mining and railroad industry in Tooele back them, just as it is today.

Engine 11 was built by American Locomotive in 1910 and is a 2-8-0 type engine with 21-inch-by-28-inch cylinders and 51-inch drivers. In the early twentieth century, it could push six to seven loaded cars up the grade to the smelter. In its later years, the engine could still push four.

At its peak, Tooele Valley Railway had four steam engines. In 1950, the railway company began to downsize rolling stock because it no longer operated 24 hours a day. Engine 11 made its last run down Vine Street on May 20, 1963. It was the last of the common carrier steam engines to be retired in Utah.

It took a crew of at least 15 men, some trained railroad operators and some enthusiasts, to move the retired engine from the park to the depot up Vine Street. It was a rare, interesting experience requiring experienced engineers.

Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Tooele Valley Museum Collection
PhotoTooele Valley Museum Collection
Learn about the Home of the Buffaloes
Across the street is Tooele High School, which has operated in this location since 1913. The mascot is a White Buffalo. Prior to building a dedicated high school building, classes were taught in a building on the corner of Main and Vine streets that also housed other educational functions. In 1913, both high school and junior high classes were taught in the high school building.  The building of the smelter in 1908 caused a population boom in Tooele. One cannot help but wonder if the building of the smelter provided the additional students and funds in the city to build a separate high school building.

Another large population occurred in Tooele when the Tooele Army Depot opened. The huge influx of people working at the Tooele Army Depot in World War II increased the number of junior high students and the city decided it needed a building dedicated to junior high school classes. The new building opened in 1944. Because of the importance of the depot, the federal government financed 100% of the building and outfitting of the Junior High. The building was replaced in 1964 by another building west of the high school building.

The number of high school students also continued to grow in the city. This was in part because of population growth, and also because more people began to attend high school. A new high school building was constructed in 1955 that replaced the building from 1913.

Tooele High School is a vital part of the community today. Students often do service around the city at museums and parks. The white "T" on the mountain has been kept up by the high school for many years.

Tooele High Football Team Photo
Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Tooele Marching Band Photo
Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Basketball Shot Photo
Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Giant T Photo
Tooele Valley Museum Collection