Former townsfolk remember metropolis

Desert settlement in Nevada had mainly LDS population

The expression pioneer may call to mind the stalwart souls of the 19th century. But a group of Church members in July celebrated the heritage of a group of 20th century pioneers - the settlers of Metropolis, Nev.

Located about 12 miles north of Wells, Metropolis was largely an LDS community. Some of the original residents and many of their posterity assembled July 22 at the old townsite.The occasion was the dedication of a memorial monument paying tribute to the sacrifices and determination of the settlers.

Henry Engh, chairman of the Metropolis Reunion Committee, said the town, founded in 1911, had a population that peaked at 1,200 and was 98 percent LDS.

The town was started with the building of a dam by the Pacific Reclamation Co. to divert water for agricultural irrigation. By 1912, according to a history by Marjorie Holbrook, the town boasted a $25,000 schoolhouse under construction (opened in September 1914), two general mercantile stores, a $9,000 railroad station, a modern drug store, graded streets, paved sidewalks, a modern water system, fire protection and homes for 600 citizens, among other improvements.

The Metropolis Ward was established Feb. 25, 1912, according to the Holbrook history.

The town gradually declined, a victim of sparse rainfall, and in 1942, the post office canceled its last stamp. The remnant of the Metropolis ward was then consolidated with Church units in the neighboring town of Wells.

Engh, now a member of the Valley View 11th Ward in the Salt Lake Holladay North Stake, said his parents applied for a homestead in Metropolis. Their action was in response to encouragement from Church leaders to take up homesteads in Nevada. The family received the homestead from the U.S. government in 1915. Much of the time, his father was away in Salt Lake City, where he worked as a machinist. He sent the family food supplies each week, along with other necessities.

"Dust storms were frequent and they scared us aplenty," he recalled. "We prayed hard and took turns leading out in prayer as we kneeled around the bed. We felt secure with mother and God to watch over us."

The new monument is fenced and includes a plaque with a brief history of the town, etched photographs and a map.

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