Utah History to Go
The First Large Factory in Utah
Change and Creativity
Struggle for Statehood
Struggle for Statehood Chronology
In 1895 Utahns Wondered When Statehood Would Come
A State is Born
Party Politics and Utah Statehood
The Constitutional Convention is Called
Constitution Was Framed in City and County Building
African American Community and Politics, 1890-1910
The Broad Ax and the Plain Dealer Kept Utah's African Americans Informed
Clarence E. Allen Was Utah's First Congressman
How Utah Lost One of Its U.S. Senate Seats in 1899
Salt Lake Native Was Interred in the Kremlin Wall
The Shooting of Arthur Brown, Ex-Senator From Utah
Convict Labor Helped to Build Utah's Road
Strawberry Valley, 1st Federal Reclamation Project
Women's Suffrage in Utah
Woman Suffrage Dominated Politics in Utah
Kanab Residents Chose Women to Run Their Town, 1912
Ruth May Fox, Forgotten Suffragist
Soren Hanson's "House That Eggs Built"
Utah Arts Council
Utah State Historical Society
The Beginning of Public Support For Libraries
The Pasta King of the Mountain West
Celebrating the New Year in Salt Lake's Chinatown
Electrifying Utah-Engineer Lucien L. Nunn
A Brewer-Sportsman's Prairie Style Home in Ogden
Saltair Village Was a Unique Place to Live
Boxing Fans Take the Plunge at Saltair
Castilla Hot Springs Attracted Many Visitors
Minstrel Shows
Utah State Capitol
Utah in the Spanish American War
Captain Richard W. Young and Spanish-American War
A Soldier's Life at Fort Douglas in the Early 1900's
Methodist Women Missionaries Worked Hard in Utah
Flour Mills
Guano Sifters on Gunnison Island
The Lehi Beet Sugar Factory
The Salt Industry Was One of the First Enterprises
From Free Salt to a Major Industry
Hospitals and Health Crazes in the Late 1800's
The Myths and Legends of Butch Cassidy
Butch Cassidy
Would the New State of Utah Go Metric?
A Look at Working Women in the Early 20th Century
Jobs in 1900
Explosion of Pleasant Valley Coal Company
The Lucin Cutoff
Southern Utah's First High School
Life Was Precarious in Turn-of-the-Century Utah
Salt Lake City Had Its Typhoid Mary
Vaccinations in Wasatch County
Promoting Physical Fitness
Woman's Home Association Tried to Help the "Fallen"
Juvenile Delinquency Posed Problems For Utahns
Traveling Gypsies Brought an Exotic Lifestyle to Utah
The First Large Factory in Utah
The Rise and Fall of Ogden's Packing Industry
Newsboys Claimed Their Street Corners in Downtown
The Bamberger Electric Railway
The First Cars in Two Small Towns
A Bicyclist Challenges the Great Salt Lake Desert
Daredevils of the Sky-Early Aeronauts in Utah
Ogden Defeats Salt Lake City in a War of the Wheels
Utah's Immigrants at the Turn of the Century
Boys' Potato Growing Clubs
Joe Hill and the I.W.W.
Socialist Women and Joe Hill
A Bit of Polynesia Remains
Justice Zane and Antipolygamy
The Salt Lake Valley Smelter War

Sharon S. Arnold
Beehive History 6

The Golden Spike was barely driven when pioneer leaders chose a likely site for a large factory. With the coming of the railroad, the massive machinery needed to start large-scale manufacturing could be shipped to the territory, and local products could be sold from coast to coast.


The Provo Woolen Mills

LDS church leaders had a specific plan in mind: Sheep thrived on Utah's landscape, and wool had been successfully processed in several small frontier towns. In addition, a mill site on the Provo River was available that could provide both water and power for wool-making. Provo's residents were invited to cooperate in the enterprise by donating labor, materials, or cash in exchange for stock in the planned enterprise. With their support, Brigham Young, Abraham O. Smoot, and a handful of other leaders formed the Timpanogos Manufacturing Association, parent company of the Provo Woolen Mills.

Skilled builders from all over the territory helped the Provo settlers in the grand construction project. Material was mostly donated, and when resources ran short, the city of Provo gave wheat for the workmen, and Utah County sold the courthouse, just east of the factory block, to the new corporation in exchange for stock. The cash for the machinery, which was ordered from Philadelphia, came from Brigham Young (then president of the company), the LDS church, and private individuals.

The resulting plant on the Provo mill run was remarkable. It occupied a block near the center of Provo city, with four buildings housing equipment that employed about 150 workers. The mill operated for ten months of the year. Power came from several turbine wheels. Beginning in 1890 surplus power was sold to the city for street lights.


Interior of Mills

The main building of blue limestone was four stories high and had a turreted stairwell and a tin mansard roof. The first and most of the second floors housed looms. "Mules"--spinning mechanisms--occupied the third floor and the balance of the second. On the fourth floor were carding machines.

Two other two-story buildings of adobe were connected to the main building with covered railways. In one, the fleece was sorted, washed, and sometimes dyed before it was laid out to dry on wide platforms in the yard. The washing or scouring of the wool was an especially important process, because the fleece contained natural wax and salt and foreign matter--dust, burrs, and mud--that amounted to 80 percent of the weight of the fleece. All of this had to be removed without damaging the soft wool.

The second adobe building was used for finishing. Here, cloth was checked for quality, washed again, fulled, and sheared. In fulling, woolen cloth was moistened, heated, and pressed to shrink and thicken it. A final pressing in the finishing room made it smooth and glossy, or, in the case of blankets, another finishing machine raised a furry nap. A third small adobe building, on the factory block next to the building where the wool was sorted, was also used for dyeing.

The fortunes of the mill ebbed and flowed. At first, it produced a full range of woolen fabrics that were loyally bought by Latter-day Saints. The cloth was extremely durable but not as finely finished as imports. Later, however, the factory specialized in heavier woolens: blankets, shawls, yarns, flannels, and doeskins. About one-third of these were exported, mostly to nearby states. Hart, Schaffner and Marx, a well-known men's clothing firm, were customers. The Provo mills also made the carpet for the St. George Temple. In 1897 John C. Cutler and Brothers of Salt Lake, agents for the Provo mills, sold men's suits for $7.50.

In 1902, Reed Smoot, who had been the factory's energetic and imaginative superintendent for several years, was elected to the US Senate. This, combined with the problems of old machinery and increased competition from eastern mills, brought business to a halt. Machinery whirred into production once again in 1910 when Jesse N. Knight's mining money bought the mill as an investment. It continued to operate until 1932, though its primary role in Utah's history was long since played out, for decades earlier, major industry and commerce had become firmly established in the territory.


The Land
American Indians
Trappers, Traders, & Explorers
Pioneers & Cowboys
Mining & Railroads
Statehood & the Progressive Era
From War to War
Utah Today