Gronway Parry: The Architect of Our Collection

Gronway Parry The horse – drawn vehicles and much of the farm equipment on exhibit at Frontier Homestead came from the collection of Gronway Parry.  Born in 1889, Gronway developed an early love of horses and horse – drawn vehicles.  He worked his way through college buying, reconditioning, and selling racehorses. After graduation, Gronway became the first county agent of Iron County, managed the Cedars Hotel and opened the first Buick dealership in Cedar City. He enlisted in the Army during WWI but was given a bad dose of smallpox vaccine, and received a medical discharge. Gronway suffered the effects of this inoculation the rest of his life.

Gronway and Chauncey Parry 1917

In 1917, with his brother Chauncey, Gronway began the Utah – Grand Canyon Transportation Company. Using a second hand 7 passenger Hudson and a Model T, the brothers took tourists to the scenic sights of Southern Utah. The initial route crossed the Virgin River 22 times. The Company was bought out by Union Pacific in 1925 and became the Utah Parks Company (UPC) – which existed until 1973. Gronway became the first Transportation Agent for the UPC, a position he held for 17 years.

Gronway married Afton Parrish in 1922 and they became heavily involved in the Cedar City community. During his years in Cedar, Gronway served one term as mayor, became instrumental in bringing Hollywood to Southern Utah, pioneered the road over Cedar Mountain, and worked as a sheep rancher, carrot and potato farmer, land developer, and college professor. Gronway was a fixture on Cedar Mountain in his snow tank and early snowmobile. In 1931 Gronway developed a love of polo and became quite skilled in the sport, until an accident during a match removed him from active competition.

Gronway and his polo horse.

Gronway driving his Mountain Wagon across the Virgin River.

Gronway Parry’s hobby of collecting and restoring horse – drawn vehicles began as early as 1911. During the 1930’s Gronway began to actively restore and display his wagons and coaches. He later stated that: “An era was dying and its relics should be preserved.” He bought or made his own tools and Afton sewed the upholstery. His collection quickly became nationally known and many of his pieces were used in motion pictures. Gronway felt strongly that his collection remain whole and in Cedar City. In 1968 he sold everything to the Iron Mission Park Commission for half its value. He considered the rest a gift to the people of Cedar City. Gronway Parry died in 1969.

Gronway Parry 1889-1969

Frontier Homestead State Park Museum now seeks to preserve, restore, and interpret the Gronway Parry collection for the benefit of its many visitors.