Rich iron-ore deposits captured the attention of Mormon leader Brigham Young. He ordered a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission be established here in what is now southwestern Utah's second largest community, with a population of about 33,000 (up from just 13,000 in 1990). The first ironworks and foundry opened in 1851 and operated for only eight years; problems with the furnace, flooding, and hostility between settlers and regional Native Americans eventually put out the flame. Residents then turned to ranching and agriculture for their livelihood, and Cedar City has thrived ever since as an agricultural and, since the founding of Southern Utah University in 1897, educational point of the state.
The Southern Utah University campus hosts the city's most popular event, the Utah Shakespeare Festival, with a two-month season that continues to get longer as its reputation grows. This attractive, youthful city is well situated for exploring the Brian Head area and Cedar Breaks National Monument.