Adapted from Janet Burton Seegmiller, A History of Iron County: Community Above Self. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1998; “History of Brian Head.” Brian Head Town, accessed April 11, 2020.
The town of Brian Head was named for nearby Brian Head Peak. The origins of the naming of Brian Head Peak are uncertain, with many differing accounts on how the name came to be. One account claims the name is a tribute to William Jennings Bryan, another to a man named Bryan who built a monument on the peak, and yet another as John Wesley Powell’s tribute to a certain Bryan from the Geographical Survey office. Whatever the case, the name of the peak and town favor the spelling of Brian to that of Bryan.
The area was used as a grazing range in the late 1800s, and was known as Little Ireland, after the Adams family, who were of Irish descent and used the area. By the 1920s, Charles Adams owned a hotel in the area that also served as a dance hall and restaurant for Parowan residents who tended livestock in the area during the summer. The Hotel was largely run by Charles’s daughter, Minnie, and was known accordingly as Minnie’s Mansion.
In the 1960s, Burt Nichols, Homer Vasels, and several others decided to develop a ski resort in the area, as its proximity to the interstate and Cedar City seemed to suggest tourist accessibility. In 1965, with some skiing infrastructure in place, the Brian Head ski resort opened to the public.
The town was incorporated in 1975, and faced some initial challenges due to its location, including expenses with trash removal and mail delivery. Brian Head remains a small resort town, with a population of about 90.