Stones for the walls of the Salt Lake Temple of the LDS Church came from this area. As construction began on the temple, Church authorities selected the rock in this canyon as the "best material that can be furnished in the mountains of North America."
Workers began quarrying the huge boulders on the canyon floor in 1861. That work continued almost nonstop for twenty-five years. Immigrants from Europe taught quarrymen to split off rocks into various sizes. Then teamsters hauled the rough-hewn stones to Temple Square, where expert stonecutters gave them their final shape.
Moving the stones from the canyon was a real challenge. Smaller stones were loaded onto ox-drawn wagons. Larger stones, some measuring three-feet square and weighing over two tons, could not be lifted. Workers drove a reinforced wagon over such a stone and dug trenches under the wheels until the frame rested on it. With the stone lashed under the frame, oxen or mules pulled the wagon out of the trenches and onto the road. Many wagons broke down under the stress of carrying that much weight twenty miles to the temple.
The slow transport delayed construction, so in the late 1860s crews dug a canal to float the stones to Salt Lake City on barges. This method did not work well and was abandoned when the railroad came to Utah. Beginning in 1871 the stones were hauled on flat cars from the railroad station in Sandy right onto Temple Square. In 1873 the Church and local miners built a narrow gauge railway up into the canyon. Some of today's main roads follow the routes pioneered by those stone-laden wagons and rails.
By the late 1880s the temple walls were up and activity at the quarries stopped. Stones from here have also been used for a few other structures, notably the Utah State Capitol Building and the "This is the Place" Monument. However, this site is still best known as the Temple Stone Quarry.