Magna, a township in west Salt Lake Valley, is home to the Kennecott Smokestack, the tallest free-standing structure in the United States west of the Mississippi River (according to the Kennecott mines website).
Settlement of the area began in 1851 shortly after the Mormon pioneers reached the Salt Lake Valley. Early farmers settled in 1868 at the base of the northern Oquirrh (‘O-Kher’) Mountains and called their community Pleasant Green. By 1900, there were about 20 families in the area. One of the first Pleasant Green pioneers was Abraham Coon, who established a livestock ranch and settlement called “Coonville” in a canyon mouth at about 5400 South. The canyon is now known as Coon Canyon, and Coon Creek flowing out of it, is one of the major Oquirrh Mountain drainages.
In 1890, in response to a law requiring all children to receive a free education, a public school was built at about 4100 South 8450 West in Magna. This one-room structure, and an existing brick and adobe building at 8600 West 2700 South were known as the District 47 Schools, containing all grades, and served the whole northwestern Salt Lake Valley. In the early 1900’s, copper mining activity in the Oquirrhs began transforming the Pleasant Green area from an agricultural hamlet to an industrial community. D.C. Jackling established the Utah Copper Company, which later became Kennecott Copper Corp. In 1906, the company began constructing its Magna Mill. He chose the name “Magna” from the Latin word meaning “great” or “superior.”
Between 1915 and 1960, the town’s fortunes fluctuated with the copper industry. During the depression, the mills shut down for a period and workers were laid off. But about 1940, there was resurgence as pending war boosted copper demand and that growth continued through the 1960’s. By the 1960s, the community was experiencing the first signs of a suburban transition. The Hercules Powder Co., once a small dynamite manufacturing firm, had begun producing rocket motors at its Baccus Works south of the Magna community. Magna’s population began shifting southward during the 1960s, but also automobile commuting, both to work and shopping, became common. As business activity moved to other areas, Main Street slowly began to deteriorate. Presently, some of the commercial space there is vacant and in general, ready for businesses that wish to cater to the pedestrian.
Kennecott Land plans major development in the areas immediately surrounding Magna. The Historic Main Street underwent a major remodel in 2006, and the Empress Theater opened its doors during the same year. Main Street has also become a popular location for film makers. Several movies and TV shows have been filmed in the last few years on Main Street including Disney’s Andy Mack. You can still live in Magna and feel ‘rural’/have livestock/horses get to downtown Salt Lake City in 20 minutes.
Places to eat: Check out Nonna’s Italian Restaurant Pizzeria for Southern Italian comfort food, the Copper Miner Saloon or Brew Monkey for food and beverage. Most of all, seek out the small Colosimo’s Original Stand Market and Sausage Factory. This place is a small grocery in an early 1900’s building, famous for insanely good local sausage and salami meets with nice friendly service.
Zip codes: 84044 and 84128