Granite History

History of the Granite Community

The early beginnings and the awareness of the area now composing the Granite Community occurred soon after the Mormon Pioneers came into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. They found an excellent stand of timber up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Several saw mills were erected in the canyon in the early 1850’s to take advantage of the timber. Many of the early homes and other buildings in the valley as well as in the Granite Community area were built from this timber.

In 1859, a stone quarry was established at the mouth of the canyon on the north side of the creek to provide granite for the construction of the Salt Lake Temple. The quarry operated intermittently from 1860 to 1870, when James C. Livingston was sent to the quarry to establish a permanent operation. In 1874, the Church quarrymen moved one and one half miles further into the canyon following the route of the newly constructed railroad to its terminus at Fairfield Flat to a site where the stones were large and numerous and seemed to be of a higher grade material than those at the mouth of the canyon. The town of Wasatch was established at the terminus site not far from the quarry. The town grew from 13 people in 1874 to 300 people in 1883. The town flourished until the quarry discontinued operation in 1893 when the temple was completed. However, the remains of Wasatch continues today as Wasatch Resort, with several summer homes as well as some year around homes dotting the landscape.

In 1869, rich mineral deposits were discovered in Little Cottonwood Canyon at Alta and several other locations. with the influx of miners and teamsters resulting from the rich ore discoveries in Alta as well as the increase of workers at the quarry, plus the lumberjacks and other workers at the sawmills in the canyon, a town called Granite was established in 1870 at the mouth of the canyon adjacent to the quarry site. At the time of its greatest prosperity, 1872 to 1874, Granite consisted of about fifty buildings, mostly stores, saloons, boarding houses and cabins. A telegraph office and two smelters, the Maxfield and Davenport, were also built. A great many of the residents of Granite were teamsters who hauled ore from the mines to the smelters.

The completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Summit on May 10, 1869 and subsequent construction of branch rail lines from Ogden south to Salt Lake City and south to Provo and beyond provided an efficient and economical means of tapping Utah’s mineral and agricultural resources. The Utah Central Railroad, linking Salt Lake City to Ogden, was completed on June 10, 1870. The Utah Southern Railroad, linking Salt Lake City with Utah County, began construction May 2, 1871. The line was in operation to Sandy on September 6, 1871; to Provo on November 25, 1873; and to Payson on January 23, 1875. The two major reasons for building the Utah Southern Railroad was to assist in the development of mining in southern Salt Lake County, primarily in Bingham and Little Cottonwood canyons, and to transport the agricultural bounty of Utah Valley to Salt Lake City and beyond.

The Wasatch and Jordan Valley Railroad, a narrow-gauge, three feet wide, branch line to serve the mines in Little Cottonwood Canyon at Alta, was incorporated in October 1872 by both Mormon and non-Mormon business interests. The Mormons’ interests were two-fold, (1) to make a profit from carrying the ore out of the canyon and (2) to speed up the transporting of granite for construction of the Salt Lake Temple. The non-Mormon interest was to get the ore out of the canyon faster and more economically. Construction began in Sandy November 4, 1872 and was completed to Granite and the granite quarry in April, 1873 and was finished to Fairfield Flat in the fall of 1873. The line to Alta was not completed until September 12, 1875 due to financial and construction problems resulting from the steep terrain (3,200 feet in 8 miles from mouth of canyon to Alta or a 7.7 per cent grade) in the canyon. Most of mines were worked out or closed down by 1883 and Granite was deserted. While all the activity was taking place at mouth of and in the canyon, Mormon farmers were moving into the area. Solomon Despain, who homesteaded a farm in 1861 near the mouth of the canyon, was one of the first settlers. When the Granite LDS Ward was organized in 1877 he was the first bishop. After the mines closed, a new town of Granite was established a mile west of the former town in the area around 3100 East and 9800 South. The Granite Community School was built in 1891-92 on the northeast corner of 3100 East and 9800 South on ground originally owned by Solomon Despain. The school building was used also meeting place for the LDS Church and local civic affairs.

In 1905, after 14 years of service, a new school and church were built west of 3100 East. After the old school was abandoned, it was converted to a house still used today. The school and church built in 1905 have since been replaced by newer buildings. Granite remained a quiet farming community from the mid-1880’s to the mid-1970’s when extensive residential development began. This development has continued to the present time even though a lot of what was once the southern, western and northern parts of Granite have been annexed into Sandy City along with a considerable portion of the population, and the establishment of the Cottonwood Heights City took in the Green Hills portion of Granite residents.

The population of the 1960 community of Granite was 265. The 2000 Census showed 2018 people in the “Granite CDP” and in 2010, the number dropped to 1932 (please use the LINK to refer to the U.S. Census website for further information about the “UT Granite CDP”).