In 1851 Parowan became the first incorporated city in Iron County. A fort that had been constructed on the east side of Center Creek the previous year, was initial in the development of ironworks in the region. Parowan served as the agricultural support base for the local iron industry, whose blast furnace was located in nearby Cedar City. Eventually, the ironworks were decommissioned.
Despite occasional successes, the iron mission failed to produce a consistent and sustained supply of pig iron. By 1858, most of the area's mining operations had ceased due to disappointing yields. Today, the area's chief industries are recreation and tourism.
In 1861, construction was begun on a large church building to stand in the center of the public square. The pioneers envisioned a building of three stories, built from the abundant yellow sandstone and massive timbers in nearby canyons. Known as the "Old Rock Church," the building was completed in 1867 and served as a place of worship, town council hall, school building, social hall, and tourist camp. In 1939 it was restored through the efforts of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers and a Parowan-sponsored WPA project. It is now a museum of Parowan's early history.
Parowan has been called the "Mother Town of the Southwest" because of the many pioneers who left from there to start other communities in southern Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, and even Oregon and Wyoming. In its first year, colonists were asked to settle Johnson Fort, now Enoch, where a stockade was built, and were also sent to settle along Coal Creek, site of the settlement to manufacture iron which became Cedar City.
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