"Iron we need and iron we must have"—so said Brigham Young in 1855. Utah's pioneers depended on it for survival. Necessities, such as nails, stoves, plows and sawmill bearings, required iron, which had to be shipped from St. Louis at great expense. Brigham Young envisioned a regional iron works that would fill the territory's need for iron and help make it economically self-sufficient. In April 1850, Church leaders established an Iron Mission in southern Utah, where iron ore, coal and timber were plentiful. Among these first Iron County settlers were experienced iron workers from the British Isles. Between 1851 and 1858, this colony of hard-working Saints tried many smelting techniques, yielding objects such as pots, crank shafts and bells. Despite sustained, even heroic, efforts, the iron missionaries did not succeed. Nature itself worked against them. Droughts, floods and inferior raw materials challenged them at every turn. When the iron works closed its books in 1858, some of the colonists moved away. Yet the pioneers' legacy is still visible in Parowan and Cedar City—Iron Mission townships that have survived for over 150 years. A Trial Furnace chronicles the lives of people who transcended the practical, finding in their wilderness crucible an inner strength and resilience more durable than the iron they came south to find.