Murray City, originally known as South Cottonwood, lies eight miles south of Salt Lake City between Big and Little Cottonwood Creeks. It is named for Eli Murray, territorial governor from 1880 to 1886. Although first settled in 1849, Murray was not incorporated until 1902. Its central valley location and plentiful water have allowed Murray to evolve from an agricultural to industrial to suburban community.
Murray was settled as part of the initial expansion south of Salt Lake City. Early residents in the area divided the grasslands south of Salt Lake into homesteads or parcels where they raised cattle and cereal grains. Most of the cattle provided dairy products, while wheat, corn, and some rye were grown to feed the family and animals.
Construction of the Woodhill Brothers’ smelter in 1869 initiated Murray’s industrial history. Murray produced the first silver bars smelted in Utah in 1870. The smelters continued to dominate the local economy until the close of the ASARCO lead smelter in 1950. Business and commercial enterprise prospered along with the smelter industry. Murray was praised as a shining example of cooperation between business, industry, and government early in the twentieth century; it was hailed for its own water plant, lighting system, smelter, canning factory, flour mills, and brickyards.
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