Tooele, Utah

Last updated
Tooele, Utah
Tooele Utah City Hall.jpeg
Tooele City Hall
The Greatest City in Utah [1]
Tooele County Utah incorporated and unincorporated areas Tooele highlighted.svg
Location in Tooele County and the state of Utah
Map of USA UT.svg
Location of Utah in the United States
Coordinates: 40°32′11″N112°17′52″W / 40.53639°N 112.29778°W / 40.53639; -112.29778 Coordinates: 40°32′11″N112°17′52″W / 40.53639°N 112.29778°W / 40.53639; -112.29778
CountryUnited States
State Utah
County Tooele
  TypeMayor/City Council
  MayorDebbie Winn [2]
  Total24.16 sq mi (62.57 km2)
  Land24.14 sq mi (62.52 km2)
  Water0.02 sq mi (0.04 km2)
5,050 ft (1,537 m)
(2019) [4]
  Density1,491.92/sq mi (576.03/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain (MST))
  Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 435
FIPS code 49-76680 [5]
GNIS feature ID1433590 [6]

Tooele ( /tˈwɪlə/ too-WIL) is a city in Tooele County in the U.S. state of Utah. The population was 22,502 at the 2000 census, and 32,115 in 2010. [7] It is the county seat of Tooele County. [8] Located approximately 30 minutes southwest of Salt Lake City, Tooele is known for Tooele Army Depot, for its views of the nearby Oquirrh Mountains and the Great Salt Lake.



The Tooele Valley was the traditional territory of the Tooele Valley Goshute, a band of the Goshute Shoshone. The ancient presence of humans in the area is attested by extensive archaeological work at the Danger Cave site, which confirms people were present and active by 9000 BP [7000 BC].

When Mormon pioneers entered the Great Salt Lake Valley in July 1847, it was covered with abundant tall grass. The Mormons first used the valley as wintering grounds for their herds. [9] In September 1849, three families settled on a small stream south of present-day Tooele City. Other families slowly joined them, and by 1853 Tooele City Corporation was organized.

During the nineteenth century, the town was primarily an agricultural community; by the century's end its population was about 1,200.

The 20th century brought more industrialization; in 1904 the Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad built a line through the city, and in 1909 the International Smelting and Refining Company smelter was built in Carr Fork/Pine Canyon east of the city . The Tooele Valley Railway, a seven-mile line, ran from the smelter west to the Union Pacific Railroad main line. This line brought ore from various area mines to the smelter; later a 20,000 ft aerial tramway was also used to transport ore from the mine to the smelter. By 1941 a 22,000 ft tunnel had been completed through the mountain, to move ore to the smelter entirely underground. The smelter began processing copper in 1910, with lead and zinc processing commencing in 1912. In 1946 the copper smelter ceased operation, the zinc operation halted in 1968, and the lead processing was halted in 1972. The entire site was demolished during 1972–74. However, consideration was being given during this latter period to extracting ore from Carr Fork Canyon, rather than relying on the ore from the east face of the mountain range. In 1969 the mining company began exploration drilling. In 1974 a copper mine and mill ("Carr Fork Operations") was started; it began processing ore in 1979, and ran until 1981. The Tooele Valley Railway was used to haul away the scrap when the International smelter was torn down, and remained to serve the Pine Canyon mill. It was shut down and abandoned when the Pine Canyon “Carr Fork” mine and mill shut down; its last day of operation was 28 August 1982. [10]

In the eastern section of Tooele, “New Town” was built for many of the 1,000 smelter workers. Families from the Balkans, Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor lived in this area and formed their own community. New Town included its own school, church, culture and numerous languages. [11]

When World War II started, the federal government obtained 25,000 acres in the southwestern part of the Tooele Valley to establish an ordnance depot ("Tooele Ordnance Depot"). [12]

In 1993 the scope and mission of the Tooele Army Depot (as the previous Ordnance Depot was now called) was reduced, and about 1,700 acres of its area including many buildings were annexed to Tooele City. The US Army conveyed 40 acres of land, including a newly constructed large-vehicle maintenance structure ("Consolidated Maintenance Facility") to the City, who converted it into an industrial complex ("Utah Industrial Depot", UID). In 2013 the UID was purchased by another company and is presently known as "Ninigret Depot." [13]


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 21.2 square miles (54.8 km2), of which 21.1 square miles (54.8 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km2) (0.09%) is water.

Tooele is located on the western slope of the Oquirrh Mountains in the Tooele Valley, the next valley west of the well-known Salt Lake Valley. Many popular camping and picnic areas surround the city.


The unusual name for the town is thought by some to have evolved from an old Ute Indian word for tumbleweed. This is one of many unverified explanations, as the name's usage predated the introduction of the Russian thistle to the United States.

Other explanations include that the name derives from a Native American chief, but controversy exists about whether such a chief existed. Others hypothesize that the name comes from "tuu-wɨɨta", the Goshute word for "black bear", or from "tule", a Spanish word of Aztec origin meaning "bulrush." [14]


Tooele has a cold semi-arid climate type, which consists of dry, hot summers, and wet, cold winters. It is considered to be in the 13d ecoregion of Utah. [15] (Köppen Bsk).

Climate data for Tooele, Utah (1981–2010)
Average high °F (°C)41.6
Average low °F (°C)20.6
Average precipitation inches (mm)1.47
Average snowfall inches (cm)14.6
Source: NOAA [16]


Historical population
1870 958
1880 1,09614.4%
1890 1,008−8.0%
1900 1,26125.1%
1910 2,841125.3%
1920 3,61927.4%
1930 5,13541.9%
1940 5,001−2.6%
1950 7,26945.4%
1960 9,13325.6%
1970 12,53937.3%
1980 14,33514.3%
1990 13,887−3.1%
2000 22,50262.0%
2010 31,60540.5%
2019 (est.)36,015 [4] 14.0%
U.S. Decennial Census [17]

As of the 2000 census, [5] there were 22,502 people, 7,459 households, and 5,825 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,064.4 people per square mile (411.0/km2). There were 7,923 housing units at an average density of 374.8 per square mile (144.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 90.96% White, 0.74% African American, 1.32% Native American, 0.56% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 3.84% from other races, and 2.44% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.09% of the population.

The historic Tooele County Courthouse and Tooele City Hall Tooele Utah Courthouse.jpeg
The historic Tooele County Courthouse and Tooele City Hall
The Tooele Valley Railroad Complex historic site Tooele Utah Railroad Complex.jpeg
The Tooele Valley Railroad Complex historic site
Motorcycle racing at the Utah Motorsports Campus Trailbraking.jpg
Motorcycle racing at the Utah Motorsports Campus

There were 7,459 households, of which 46.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.6% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.9% were non-families. 18.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.39.

The city's population had 34.1% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 30.8% from 25 to 44, 15.7% from 45 to 64, and 8.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $43,862, and the median income for a family was $48,490. Males had a median income of $37,373 versus $24,175 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,580. About 5.0% of families and 6.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.9% of those under age 18 and 6.8% of those age 65 or over.


The Tooele County School District, [18] headquartered in Tooele, contains 16 elementary schools and one Early Learning Center; eight of these units are within City limits (Copper Canyon, Sterling, Middle Canyon, Northlake, Overlake, Settlement Canyon, West, and the Early Learning Center), three junior high schools, of which two are within City limits (Tooele, and Clarke N. Johnsen), and five high schools, of which two are within City limits (Tooele, [19] and Blue Peak [20] ). There is a regional campus of Utah State University and the Tooele Applied Technology College, a campus of the Utah College of Applied Technology within city boundaries. There is one private school, Saint Marguerite Catholic School, which offers a Montessori modeled preschool, elementary grades K - 5, and junior high/middle school grades 6 -8. [21]

Tooele is also served by Scholar Academy Charter School. [22]



Major employers in the area include:

Arts festival

The Tooele Arts Festival, an annual three-day event, hosts vendors of one-of-a-kind artwork, including paintings, jewelry, ceramics, photographs, and sculptures. The event includes live musical entertainment, children's playground equipment and entertainment. There is no admission fee for the festival, which is held at a city-owned park west of the city center. It began in 1985; for the first several years of its existence the Festival was held near the end of May, but it seemed to coincide with late-spring cold spells, which were disastrous given the Festival's open-air setting. Due to this unpredictability, sponsors decided in 1998 to move it to the final weekend of June, although this puts it in direct competition with the much larger Utah Arts Festival, held in Salt Lake City on the same dates. The 2011 Tooele Arts Festival was cancelled due to lack of volunteers; this was the first time since 1985 that no arts festival was held in Tooele City. The Festival celebrated its 30th anniversary in June 2016. [25]

County fair

Until 2000, the annual Tooele County Fair was held during the first week of August at the Tooele County Fairgrounds, inside Tooele City. Since that date, it has been held at the Deseret Peak Complex, located in the Tooele Valley midway between Tooele City and Grantsville City.

Sister cities

Tooele has one sister city, as designated by Sister Cities International:

See also

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The Tooele Valley Railway was a railroad founded in 1908, and owned by the Anaconda Copper corporation. The line ran from a connection with the Union Pacific Railroad and the Western Pacific Railroad at Warner Station on the western edge of Tooele, Utah, to a terminus at the International Smelting and Refining Company smelter operations on the eastern edge of Tooele. The line was abandoned around 1982, nearly a decade after the smelter closure and the end of production at the nearby Carr Fork Mine.

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The International Smelting and Refining Company was a subsidiary of Anaconda Copper which operated primarily out of the International Smelter near Tooele, Utah. The International Smelter began operation in 1910 as a copper producer handling ores from Bingham Canyon and was expanded into a lead smelting operation in 1912. Copper smelting finished at International in 1946, and the lead smelter shut down in January 1972. The closure of the smelter would lead to the associated Tooele Valley Railway to be shut down ten years later in 1982. The company also handled several other Anaconda owned interests. After the shut down of several of the International Smelting sites, environmental reclamation has been performed by Anaconda Copper's successor company ARCO and the EPA Superfund program.


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