Tooele, Utah

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Tooele, Utah
Tooele City Hall
Tooele City Hall
Nickname(s): The Greatest City in Utah[1]
Location in Tooele County and the state of Utah
Location in Tooele County and the state of Utah
Location of Utah in the United States
Location of Utah in the United States
Coordinates: 40°32′11″N 112°17′52″W / 40.53639°N 112.29778°W / 40.53639; -112.29778Coordinates: 40°32′11″N 112°17′52″W / 40.53639°N 112.29778°W / 40.53639; -112.29778
Country United States
State Utah
County Tooele
Settled 1851
 • Type Mayor/City Council
 • Mayor Patrick Dunlavy
 • Total 21.2 sq mi (54.8 km2)
 • Land 21.1 sq mi (54.8 km2)
 • Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation 5,050 ft (1,537 m)
Population (2012)
 • Total 32,115
 • Density 1,064.4/sq mi (411.0/km2)
Time zone Mountain (MST) (UTC-7)
 • Summer (DST) MDT (UTC-6)
ZIP code 84074
Area code(s) 435
FIPS code 49-76680[2]
GNIS feature ID 1433590[3]
Website [4]

Tooele (Listeni/tˈɛlə/ too-EL) 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 at the 2010 census.[4] It is the county seat of Tooele County.[5] The city is known for Tooele Army Depot and for privately owned waste-disposal facilities in neighboring Skull Valley.


The Tooele Valley had no permanent settlement 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.[6] In September 1849, three families settled on a small stream south of present 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; its population was about 1,200 at the turn of the century.

The 20th century brought more industrialization; a railroad between Stockton and the lake passed close to the city, and a smelter was opened in Carr Fork Canyon east of the city ("International Smelting and Refining Company"). The Tooele Valley Railroad, a seven mile line, ran from the smelter west to the Union Pacific Railroad main line. This line brought ore from the Bingham Canyon Mine 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.[7]

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.[8]

When World War II started, the Federal Government obtained 25,000 acres in the SW part of the Tooele Valley to establish an ordnance depot ("Tooele Ordnance Depot").[9]

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"). In 2013 the UID was purchased by another company and is presently known as "Ninigret Depot."[10]


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 slopes 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 lived. Others hypothesize that the name comes from "tu-wanda", the Goshute word for "bear", or from "tule", a Spanish word of Aztec origin, meaning "bulrush."


Tooele has a dry continental climate (Dsa).

Climate data for Tooele, Utah (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
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[11]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 958
1880 1,096 14.4%
1890 1,008 −8.0%
1900 1,261 25.1%
1910 2,841 125.3%
1920 3,619 27.4%
1930 5,135 41.9%
1940 5,001 −2.6%
1950 7,269 45.4%
1960 9,133 25.6%
1970 12,539 37.3%
1980 14,335 14.3%
1990 13,887 −3.1%
2000 22,502 62.0%
2010 31,605 40.5%
Est. 2014 32,573 [12] 3.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]

As of the census[2] of 2000, 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.

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.


Tooele is located in the Tooele County School District,[14] which contains 15 elementary schools (Anna Smith, Copper Canyon, Dugway, East, Grantsville, Harris, Ibapah, Middle Canyon, Northlake,Rose Springs, Settlement Canyon, Stansbury Park, Vernon, West and Willow), three junior high schools (Grantsville, Tooele and, Clarke. N Johnsen) and five high schools (Grantsville,[15] Tooele,[16] Blue Peak, Dugway, and Wendover.[17]) 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 preschool, elementary grades K - 5, and junior high/middle school grades 6 -8. [5]

Tooele is also served by Scholar Academy Charter School.[18]


  • Water Water rights are tightly controlled throughout Tooele County. All new construction requires the acquisition of sufficient water rights. If the construction is inside incorporated areas, the water rights will be surrendered to the local government and become part of the common water right for the entity. Outside incorporated areas, water rights are attached to drilled wells.
  • Sewer Tooele City, Grantsville, Stansbury Park and Lakepoint have sanitary sewer systems. All other areas are served by septic tanks and drainfields.
  • Electricity Most of Tooele County is served by Rocky Mountain Power. Some of the Western Region is served by Wells Rural Electric Coop and Mount Wheeler Power.
  • Natural gas Tooele City, Grantsville, Stansbury Park, Lakepoint and some of the adjacent unincorporated areas are served by Questar.
  • Communications Tooele County is served by several telecommunications providers. The two public utility companies serving the area are Beehive Telephone Company and CenturyLink. Comcast also serves Tooele, Grantsville and Stansbury park with cable, phone and internet. Beehive Broadband serves Tooele County with phone, TV and up to 1 Gbit/s internet service.


  • A major private employer in the area is Kennecott Utah Copper which operates the Kennecott Bingham Copper Mine, the world's largest open-pit excavation mine on the other side of the Oquirrh Mountains from Tooele's location. 240- and 320-ton capacity trucks deliver copper ore to the in-pit crusher, where the material is reduced to the size of soccer balls before being loaded onto a five-mile (8 km) conveyor that carries the ore to the Copperton Concentrator.
  • Energy Solutions (formerly known as Envirocare), a waste-storage facility in Clive, west of Tooele Valley.
  • Federal governmental agencies
  • State government agencies
  • Tooele county governmental agencies
  • Tooele Industrial Depot - A portion of the previous Tooele Army Depot has been turned back to the local area, and many of the government-constructed buildings in that area are now filled with manufacturing facilities, warehouses and offices. The area is administered by a consortium known as Tooele Industrial Depot.
  • Tooele was the filming location of the 2009 comedy Gentlemen Broncos.
  • Tooele appeared on Newsmax magazine's 2009 list of the "Top 25 Most Uniquely American Cities and Towns," a piece written by current CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg.[19]
  • Tooele was one of the locations for the second season of Prison Break, yet the episodes were filmed in Texas.
  • US Magnesium (owned by RENCO Group) is the country's largest producer of magnesium.[20]
  • Utah Motorsports Campus, an auto, motorcycle, bicycle and kart racing facility just outside Tooele

Environmental Concerns[edit]

The aforementioned heavy industry and resulting pollution of the air and earth have been a regional concern for decades.[20] The US Environmental Protection Agency has reported that US Magnesium produces and discharges dangerous toxins and cancerous byproducts.[20] In 2008, the US Government considered listing the area as a Superfund site. Another firm, Stericycle, reached a settlement with the US Government to reduce its fines by relocating a chemical plant from North Salt Lake to Tooele, where it would double its production, burning 18,000 tons of medical waste annually in the west desert community.[20] For years, Tooele County has been listed as having the worst air in Utah, according to Federal agencies and environmental groups.[21] The Tooele County Health Department notes that the chemical output of the heavy industry can be particularly dangerous in the winter, because the region's climate and setting create winter inversions, suspending the toxins in the air, and posing "serious health concerns."[22]

Arts festival[edit]

The Tooele Arts Festival, an annual 3-day event, hosts vendors of one-of-a-kind artwork, including paintings, jewelry, ceramics, photographs, sculptures. The event includes live musical entertainment. Children's playground equipment and entertainments are provided. There is no admission fee for this 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 since all the Festival's activities are held out of doors. 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, which was the first time since 1985 that no arts festival was held in Tooele City; however the festival was held again in 2012.

County fair[edit]

Until 2000 the annual Tooele County Fair was held during the first week of August at the Tooele County Fairgrounds, inside Tooele City. After 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[edit]

Tooele has two sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tooele City website
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  3. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 25 October 2007. Retrieved 31 January 2008. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 7 June 2011. 
  6. ^ As reported by Capt. Howard Stansbury, who surveyed the Great Salt Lake Valley and surrounding areas for the US Army beginning in 1849. He entered "Tuilla Valley" on 6 November 1849 ([1], Exploration and survey of the valley of the Great Salt Lake of Utah, p. 118) and departed on the following day.
  7. ^ [2] International Smelter at Tooele Anaconda In Utah, (accessed 23 November 2014)
  8. ^ [3] History of Tooele (Tooele City website; accessed 23 November 2014)
  9. ^ In the same year, a storage depot for chemical weapons was also begun 20 miles south of Tooele City; the "Deseret Chemical Depot".
  10. ^ Madison, Rachel (February 5, 2013). "UID Sold and Renamed to Ninigret Depot" (PDF). Tooele Transcript Bulletin. Retrieved January 31, 2016. 
  11. ^ "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  14. ^ Tooele County School District website
  15. ^ Grantsville High School
  16. ^ "Tooele High School". Retrieved 20 December 2015. 
  17. ^ Wendover High School
  18. ^ Academy website
  19. ^ Greenberg, Peter. "Newsmax Magazine Rates the Top 25 Most Uniquely American Cities And Towns". Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c d "Red Air - Wasatch Front Polluters". Utah Stories. Retrieved 2016-01-18. 
  22. ^ "Winter Inversions | Tooele County Health Department". Retrieved 2016-01-18. 

External links[edit]