Iona was homesteaded by Mormon pioneers in 1884. Sagebrush, as tall as a man sitting on a horse, covered the now famous potato fields. The short growing season made it difficult to grow crops and the early settlers were discouraged and many wanted to go back south to Utah. However, when Mormon apostle Wilford Woodruff spoke to a small congregation in the Iona area on June 17, 1884, he said:
The Spirit of the Lord rests mightily upon me and I feel to bless you in the name of Jesus Christ. I promise you that the climate will be moderated for your good. I can see these great sagebrush prairies, as far as the eye can reach, turned into fertile fields. I bless the land that it shall yield forth in its strength. Flowers and trees and fine homes shall grace this great valley from one end to the other. Schools and colleges of higher learning shall be built to serve you that you may learn the mysteries of God’s great universe. I see churches and meetinghouses dotting the landscape, where the God of Israel may be worshiped in spirit and in truth. Yes, and as I look into the future of this great valley I can see temples—I can see beautiful temples erected to the name of the living God where holy labors may be carried on in his name through generations to come.