History of Murray City

Pioneers Settling

The Mormon pioneers came to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. A pioneer group called the Mississippi Saints arrived one year later and began to develop a scattered settlement in the south end of the valley in the fall of 1848. The area was distinguished by various names such as the Mississippi Ward, Cottonwood, Big Cottonwood, and South Cottonwood. Written history states that at least 20 families were living in the South Cottonwood area in the 1860's. The area remained agricultural until 1869 when a body of ore was found in Park City and additional ore was found in the Little Cottonwood Canyon. Because of its central location and access to the railroad, the first smelter was built in Murray in 1870 and Murray became the home of some of the largest smelters in the region over the next 30 years.

The first official post office was established in 1870 as the South Cottonwood Post Office. The area changed over time as the railroad came in, smelting expanded, the territorial road (later known as State Street) was established, and trolley transportation was developed. A business district also began to develop along the transportation corridor.

The City received its present name from the post office, which officially changed its name from South Cottonwood Post Office to Murray Post Office in 1883 after the territorial governor and civil war general, Eli Murray.

City Incorporation

After a riot and fire started by a rowdy group of smelter workers in a local saloon, the fight for incorporation was begun by a local newspaper editor. The final incorporation committee drafted a petition in 1901 and created an intense campaign on both sides of the incorporation battle. The election took place on November 18, 1902. Those in favor won and C.L. Miller was elected as Mayor by three votes. Salt Lake County recognized the election results as official on November 25, 1902, and the City was officially recognized as a Third Class City by the State of Utah on January 3, 1903.

Cultural Make-Up

The early Mormon settlers were largely from Western Europe and Scandinavian countries. When the smelter operations began in 1870, the ethnic make-up of Murray dramatically changed with large numbers of workers coming from Eastern Europe and Asian countries. Over half of the smelter workers came from Greece. Many came from Armenia, Yugoslavia, Italy, and Japan. These groups brought new religious customs to Murray as well. Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, and Catholic church congregations have developed. The ethnic diversity of early Murray is very visible in the Murray City Cemetery.

Form of Government

Murray City initially created a Mayor-Council form of government. In 1911, a State law changed the form of government for cities of the First and Second Class in Utah from the old Council form to the Commission form of government. This form of government was again reversed in 1981. The City adopted the Mayor-Council form of government, which included an elected Mayor and five City Council members. To ensure staggered terms of the Council, an election is held every two years for half the Council members for four-year terms.

Murray Today

As of 2010, Murray is comprised of a population of 46,746. Murray's boundaries have expanded a number of times over the past 100 years. It provides for most of its own services including Police, Fire, Power, Water, Sewer, Library, Senior Center, and Parks and Recreation.