Utah has long been associated with hope and recovery, with a brighter future ahead. Our communities around Salt Lake City and the Wasatch embody these principles, with the current framework and society being founded by Pioneers who sought refuge and a better life. Some of these areas, though, have done better than others, but with the power of people who care, transformations routinely make their mark when needed. The west side of the Salt Lake valley is full of these stories; namely a few cities that start with “West” in their name. There is one area, however, which seems to be on the verge of making its mark again. Magna is the copper mine township of Salt Lake County, and it is once again on the rise.
Settled in the early 1850s, Magna, originally known as Pleasant Green, is one of the few remaining major townships remaining in the valley after Millcreek incorporated a few years ago. With Salt Lake City and West Valley to the north, east, and south, Magna is set in the foothills of the northern Oquirrh Mountains, the western range which can be seen from within the Salt Lake valley. Magna has primarily been associated with mining over the years due to its proximity to the Kennecott Utah Copper mine, owned by Rio Tinto Group. As the largest open-pit copper mine in the world, Kennecott is crucial for the local and world economy, as the copper ore sourced is utilized in everything from currency to wiring.
Much of Magna’s fortunes have been dependent upon the mine’s success, and the boomtime for the town primarily settled by Eastern European immigrants came during the 1910s and 1920s, when most of the build-up occurred. Magna became home to historical sites such as The Empress Theatre, a stunning facility of both Neo-classical and Beaux Arts design which has reopened its doors to live stage productions. The Empress’s original purpose was to entertain the local miners, but it now attracts an audience and talent from even further afar while maintaining local charms. Even as most business migrated to the south and west of Magna Main Street, the Empress continued to stand and is at the heart of current changes in the township.
Magna’s deterioration did not come without serious pushback from within and without. In recent years, Main Street has started to re-awaken, with new pavement, facilities, and some businesses beginning to trickle back. The population has continued to grow again, too, with housing developments expanding, receiving updates, or even taking shape from scratch. Utah Route 201, sometimes known as The People’s Freeway, runs from southern Salt Lake City all the way over through West Valley to Magna, improving access to the valley core. The Utah Transit Authority has also bolstered service to Magna with the state’s first bus rapid transit line running to West Valley and Millcreek, making it easier for the community to move from A to B without having to get behind the wheel.
Some of these moves have started to attract major attention from outside of Utah. With some of the updates and preservation work, Magna has become a magnet for Disney, with Dadnapped, Halloweentown, and Andi Mack all being filmed along Main Street and the surrounding areas. The BYUtv scripted drama Granite Flats is also filmed in Magna. With the number of cameras present, the township may as well be in California.
It may be very far to the west compared to the rest of the Salt Lake valley, but we at VIP Limousine are particularly fond of Magna’s character. It’s a place where we live and serve gladly on a regular basis, and through its ups and downs, we are proud to call it part of our home.