Blacksmith Fork Canyon: Hyrum's Great Natural Resource
Eighteen miles up Blacksmith Fork Canyon surrounded by beautiful mountains, trees, shrubbery, and foliage, tucked in a peaceful little valley sits Hardware Ranch. Originally the ranching area of the United Order in Hyrum, today it is a winter refuge for elk and a summer fishing and recreational haven.
In the 19th Century, many Mormon settlements established United Orders, or egalitarian communities that were designed to promote self-sufficiency and eliminate poverty. It was a form of communalism where private properties and goods were deeded to the church, which then gave a portion back to the family (enough to provide for and sustain the household). The property owned by the church was used to provide for the less fortunate, who would pay for these goods with money or labor. The United Order of Hyrum, a system where all economic activities were under one ecclesiastical entity, operated from 1869–1888 in Blacksmith Fork Canyon. It consisted of saw mills, a shingle mill, a lime kiln, a dairy that produced cheese and butter, and land for grazing cattle and sheep.
For over two decades (1870–1900), first under the ownership of the Hyrum Co-op (United Order) and later by Andrew Israelsen, a dairy operated in Blacksmith Fork Canyon. Young women were employed to do the milking during the spring and summer months. Milk maids were paid according to the number of cows they could milk each morning and afternoon, usually making three to four dollars a week (which could add up to $75.00 during a six month season). They also helped make cheese and butter and cooked for all of the employees. Cows were leased to the Co-op. A cow’s milk was weighed and recorded and its owner was paid in portions of cheese and butter.