Cold War Prosperity

Thomas G. Alexander
Utah, The Right Place

The wartime buildup, which had revitalized the defense installations and carried uranium fever to the Colorado Plateau while killing southwestern Utahns and leaving Navajo miners with incurable cancer, brought prosperity to the Wasatch and Oquirrh Fronts. This urban prosperity spread from the defense installations to private companies supplying goods and services to the government and to the rest of the urban public. Private defense contractors, especially those that produced missiles—Thiokol, Sperry Rand, Hercules, and Marquardt—had all benefited.

New levels of prosperity generated a demand for processed goods, and in Utah, some of the major beneficiaries included factories that manufactured products from the bounty of Utah’s farms and mines. Beet-processing plants, owned by Amalgamated and Utah-Idaho, poured out sugar to sweeten Cokes, cakes, and cookies. Meatpackers, including Armour, Cudahy, Doctorman, Jordan, McFarland, and Miller, and canning companies such as Blackington and Woods Cross sent their products to consumers’ tables throughout the West. Tins of Sego Milk, lovingly called “canned cows,” flavored cakes and coffee. The Geneva Steel plant shipped out rolled steel, and smelters at Midvale, Garfield, and Tooele refined and processed copper, lead, and zinc from Utah’s mines.