Smelter Workers ca. 1910, Tooele Valley Museum Collection

One hurdle to opening the International Smelter and Mining Company was the lack of industrial labor in Tooele Valley.  To overcome the problem, United Consolidated Mines recruited hundreds of workers from throughout American, Southern Europe, and Eastern Europe.  The workers arrived with their families in 1909 and nearly doubled the population of the city.   The migrant and immigrant families’ cultures and languages varied.  Like other mining towns in Utah, Tooele became one of the most culturally diverse towns in Utah for a while.  Massive immigration numbers had already been an issue in larger American cities for decades, but Tooele was a small agricultural town settled and still populated by farmers most of which were part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The meeting of very different cultures on the foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains created a tumultuous social climate for decades.   

So many new homes had to be built for the new smelter workers a whole neighborhood sprang up.  One could hear Greek, Italian, and Croatian along with English on the streets.  New churches communities were organized, such as the Greek Orthodox and Catholic churches.  There was also a new school for the neighborhood, Plat C School, which the children of the immigrant workers attended until 1929.   Broadway became the main street in New Town.  Along it, there were grocers, bakers, hotels, restaurants, and barbershops.  Because of language and culture barriers, the new Tooelans tended to stay in their own neighborhood. 

By the 1930s, Tooelans, old and new, were learning how to bridge the cultural differences.  Local historian Ouida Blanthorn credits local high school football coach Sterling Harris with helping to build bridges.  He recruited young men from New Town to play on the Tooele High School football team.  The sons of the immigrant workers helped to win state championships in football in 1928, 1929, and 1930.


Ruth Apartments at Broadway and Birch 1910, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection
North 5th Street 1910, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection
Tooele Commercial Company at Broadway and Elm 1910, Utah State Historical Society Digital Collection
Tooele Valley Museum Collection
Tooele Valley Museum Collection
New Town Sanborn Fire Insurance Map 1910, Library of Congress Digital Collection