The Hunter House

Joseph Sneddon Hunter was born November 20, 1844 in Scotland to Joseph Hunter and Elizabeth Davidson. The family had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1840 and in 1849 all seven immigrated to the United States. After pausing in Missouri where Elizabeth and two children died, Joseph Hunter and his sons set out for Utah, arriving in Salt Lake in the early fall of 1852. The Hunters were then called to help colonize Cedar City and arrived there in October.

Joseph Sneddon Hunter subsequently made his living in farming and livestock. In 1865 he married Elizabeth Catherine Pinnock, by whom he had ten children. Their house was built in three stages, between 1866 and 1891 with an addition in 1924. Hunter was active in church and civic affairs. He filled missions in the Southern States and in Washington County, held Church offices and gave the Church generous financial support. He believed strongly in the value of education which he supported financially and as a trustee. Joseph died in this house July 26, 1904.

The first section of the Hunter house, built in 1866, is a 1 - 1 ½ story brick example of the Central Hall vernacular type. Vernacular architecture is based on localized needs, uses local construction materials, and often reflects local traditions. The east facade displays the distinctive wall dormers which characterize much of Utah’s mid-19th century architecture. The 1866 section has gable-end chimneys and exhibits common brick bonding and relieving arched windows. Decorative features include a plain entablature, gable-end cornice returns, gable and dormer finials, and elliptical fan lights in the dormers. The mixing of Greek and Gothic Revival stylistic elements is commonly encountered on vernacular houses of this type.

In 1891 the house received several additions in the “Victorian” stylistic tradition. A rear “T” extension was placed on the west side of the house. Unfortunately, this section proved too unstable to move. An elaborate porch was placed on the east façade of the main house at this time. This porch exhibits Eastlake design qualities in its intricately turned posts, scroll brackets, and spindled frieze. The richly articulated cutout designs between the posts are a particularly distinctive Eastlake feature.

In 2005 the Hunter House was relocated from its original address at 1st East and Center Street to Frontier Homestead State Park Museum.  The move and subsequent restoration of the historic 1866 portion is a testament to the communities desire to preserve and protect their heritage for all to experience and enjoy.

The Legacies of Iron County: Mining - The Ore Shovel

Mining, 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. Shovels at work in the mines.In the 1930s, iron mining expanded in Iron County and massive shovels were needed to excavate the needed ore. According to company delivery records, two Bucyrus-Erie 120-B shovels were delivered to the Utah Construction Company in Cedar City in September of 1936 for use in the iron mines. At the time, the wage for a shovel operator was $0.48 per hour.

Shovel at work.The electric 120-B shovel had a six cubic yard dipper capacity, big enough to scoop up six tons of dirt and rock, enough to fill a hole the size of a large pick-up truck with extended cab and bed. AC power was supplied to the shovel via a trailing 23,000 volt electric cable which drove a 275-horsepower motor-generator set. When moving the shovel from pit to pit, bulldozers were employed to prevent the huge tracks from slipping down the hill.

SHE-22 at work.About 330 of the 120-Bs were sold around the world over a period lasting almost three decades. SHE (shovel excavator) 22 was used continuously until the 1970’s.  SHE-22 had previously been located west of town where it sat for many years.  In 2012, in partnership with Utah State Parks, Cedar City, Iron County, Gilbert Development, Inc., and Construction Steel, Inc., the shovel was relocated to Frontier Homestead State Park.

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 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.

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

Old Iron Town

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.

Historic Archaeology

For our final post of Archaeology Month, we turned to Samantha Kirkley, the State Coordinator for Project Archaeology. She is based at Southern Utah University and has worked with us here at Frontier Homestead on a variety of topics. We asked her to explain a little bit about Historic Archaeology. Archaeology is a sub-discipline of anthropology and can be defined as the study of people from the past.  It is often defined into two areas of research: Prehistoric and Historic.  While much of the theory and practice are similar, Historic Archaeology has a

Historic Artifacts Courtesy of Samantha Kirkley

unique ability to bring the story of past people to life through artifacts, historic structures, oral histories, personal and government records, and landscape.  Often, the mundane items such as buttons, bottles, cans, stove parts, and the like tell us the most about the daily lives of the inhabitants of a particular location.

Historic Archaeology focuses on the study of people from the recent past.  Some have tried to define it as the archaeology aided by written records; but, in many cases, archaeology enhances our understanding of written history.  Although, written records extend back 5000+ years ago, historic archaeology begins with the first European colonizing efforts in the 1400's and follows numerous lines of inquiry into modern times.

Some of the most notable work in this specialized field include the recent excavations at Jamestown and metal detection archaeology at the Battle of Little Big Horn.   A few historic sites worth preserving and visiting in our area include Old Iron Town, the Caretaker’s Cabin at Cedar Breaks, the Mountain Meadows Massacre Site, and Silver Reef in Washington County.  Remember to leave artifacts where you find them, even that old bottle.

Caretaker's Cabin at Cedar Breaks Courtesy of Samantha Kirkley


Charcoal Kiln at Old Irontown





Here are a few links if you would like more information about some of the places Samantha mentioned:

Jamestown Archaeology

Little Bighorn Archaeology

Old Irontown



Collections Care: Paper

Almost everyone has some sort of paper document. Whether it be newspaper clippings, art work, birth certificates, licenses, or other records, these papers come in a variety of conditions on an assortment of paper types. When paper was first being developed it was made from plant fibers and cloth, and as a result was very durable. As the production of paper evolved toward machine made types from wood it became more vulnerable to heat and moisture. Extreme temperature or humidity as well as frequent changes in temperature or humidity are harmful to paper. Because of chemicals and additives that are used in the paper making process it is also susceptible Pests can be devastating to paper.

to discoloration caused by contact with other chemicals. Damage can also be caused by other sources such as insects, fungi, ultraviolet light, and the oils in our skin.  Because of the many ways paper is able to be damaged it is important to know how you can avoid the damage that can occur.

One of the best and easiest ways that one can avoid damage to paper is to keep them in a climate controlled environment. Papers do best in an environment that is at a temperature no higher than 72 degrees Fahrenheit, along with a relative humidity around 50 percent. It is important that as you are storing paper that it is not placed in a damp basement, or uninsulated garage or attic where the temperature would become excessively hot during summer or too cold during the winter.

Exposure to UV light can cause severe discoloration, as seen in this i,age.

Another way of taking good care of your paper is to avoid touching it with bare hands. A lot of times even just the oils on a hand can discolor the paper over time. Along with avoiding touch, excessive handling can damage paper by increasing wear and the probability of tearing.

Be sure not to fold and refold your documents, as it will create weak points.

It is important to note that it is not a good idea to use tape, glue, staples, or paperclips on valuable papers. These will all cause damage over time that may make them impossible to repair. With regards to cleaning and repairs of paper it is usually better to leave those jobs to professionals that will know more about specific types of papers. If you take the proper steps in preserving your paper you will be able to enjoy it for many more years to come. If you have any questions about the care of your personal papers, please contact Frontier Homestead State Park. The conservation professionals there can be a great resource in helping you preserve your past.