This large museum (635 N. Main St., 435/586-9290, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Sat., closed major holidays, $3) dedicates itself to the history of the cultures that have lived in and developed Iron County, and to pioneer efforts to mine and process iron. Cedar City  began as a mission in 1851 to supply the Mormon settlements with much-needed iron products.
Church leaders, upon hearing of promising iron ore and coal deposits, decided to launch the first major colonizing effort since the settlement of the Salt Lake area. Hard winters, crop failures, floods, shortages of skilled workmen, and cheaper imported iron nearly doomed the whole project. Only a small amount of iron was produced, and operations ceased in 1858.
Sizable quantities of iron ore did exist, though; large-scale mining west of Cedar City began in the 1920s, peaked in 1957, and has tapered off in recent years.
Exhibits at the museum illustrate the Iron Mission's early hardships and the first iron production on September 30, 1852. Past members of the Iron Mission cast the old community bell on display. A diverse array of carriages is the museum's main attraction. You'll see everything from a bullet-scarred Overland stagecoach to an elegant Clarence carriage.
All the sleighs, utility wagons, hearses, and other forms of 19th-century transport have been meticulously restored. Also displayed are artifacts of prehistoric and modern tribes. Pioneer memorabilia includes clothing, furniture, saddles, and a bathtub. A large collection of horse-drawn farm machinery sits out back.
Depression-era residents needed a new LDS Church building but lacked the money to build one. Undaunted, they set to work using local materials and came up with this beautiful structure (75 E. Center, 435/586-6759, tours 1-6 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., free) composed of many different types of rocks. Skilled craftspeople made the metal lamps, carpets, Western red cedar pews, and most other furnishings.
The towns of southern Utah eagerly sought a branch of the state's teacher training school after it had been authorized in 1897 by the Utah legislature. A committee awarded the school to Cedar City , and classes began the same year in a borrowed church building. Some people say that Cedar City was chosen because it was the only one of the candidate towns without a saloon or pool hall.
This satellite school eventually became a four-year university with 6,000 students, and today it offers major fields of study in education, arts and letters, science, and business. The attractively landscaped campus (435/586-7700, www.suu.edu ) occupies 104 acres just west of downtown. The Utah Shakespearean Festival  is the main summer event on campus.
Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery (435/586-5432, noon-7 p.m. Tues.-Sat.) presents changing exhibits in the Braithwaite Fine Arts Center, one block north of the intersection of 200 South and 400 West.
Native Americans have pecked many designs into the rocks at this pass 10.5 miles northwest of Parowan. This impressive V-shaped notch in the rocky Red Hills is a landmark even today, and it clearly would have served as a route (and potential ambush site) for Native Americans and wildlife as they passed through this landscape. Perhaps the gap was an important site for hunting rituals?
The rock art's meaning hasn't been deciphered, but it probably represents the thoughts of many different tribes over the past 1,000 or more years. Geometric designs, snakes, lizards, mountain sheep, bear claws, and human figures are all still recognizable.
Parowan Gap may also have played a role in the early Native American calendar. On the late June solstice, the year's longest day, the sun seems to set perfectly in the midst of the notch (if you're here in late June, join the small group of people who gather here to observe sunset). Researchers have discovered remains of rock cairns in the valley that align with the solstice sunset, leading them to conjecture that the early natives used the gap and the setting sun as part of their calendar system.
You can get here on a good gravel road from Parowan. Drive into town on Main Street, and turn west and take 400 North for 10.5 miles. Or, from Cedar City , go north on Main Street (or take I-15 Exit 62), follow signs for Highway 130 north 13.5 miles, and then turn right and go 2.5 miles on a good gravel road (near Milepost 19). You'll find an interpretive brochure and map at the BLM offices in Cedar City.