Copper mining had long taken over the community's agricultural roots, with many farmers opting to work for steady paychecks signed by Utah Copper Company, which later became Kennecott Copper Corp.
Now, community members and planners hope to return historic Main Street to its glory days.
"There just aren't a lot of old Main Streets left in Salt Lake County," said Ryan Beck with the nonprofit Envision Utah, which uses public involvement to solve problems associated with growth. "It's a great reflection of its history."
Beck, who as a boy often visited his aunt in Magna, was recently elected co-chairman of an implementation committee that hopes to help shape the future of Magna's Main Street. He calls the assignment temporary, as residents and community leaders step forward.
Progress already has momentum. A new library has opened. A bus rapid line provides convenient access to downtown Salt Lake City and other regional destinations. And street improvements are scheduled to begin new year.
The historic Main Street (2700 South) will be spruced up, funded by a federal grant, which will include street lights, curbs, gutters and sidewalks from 8800 West eastward to about 8300 West.
The county will prepare an environmental design before seeking bids on the project in the fall. Construction is expected to begin next spring.
A key to reshaping Main Street is a survey, conducted last fall, in which residents discussed their vision for the beloved thoroughfare.
Here's what people said in workshops and a survey involving 300 residents:
Repurpose • 96 percent want updated codes to maintain the historic look and feel of Main Street.
Clean up • 95 percent want enforcement of codes requiring or encouraging well-kept yards and buildings.
Rehabilitate • 95 percent support community building groups to rehabilitate or rebuild dilapidated structures.
Entertainment • 95 percent want places for dining, shopping and relaxing.
Funding • 95 percent want financial strategies to encourage local investments around Main Street.
Jobs • 87 percent want larger investments and job growth on or nearby Main Street.
No to suburbia • 78 percent don't want single-use building behind parking lots that front the street.
Residences • 73 percent want condos or apartments above or behind shops and businesses.
The implementation committee, made up of about 25 residents, has responded to residents' concerns by compiling a business directory to acquaint the public with existing businesses.
In addition, the group is putting together a list of county departments and services. A common complaint is that residents cannot locate a number of county services.
That's not surprising, given that Magna is the farthest away from county headquarters, about 18 miles.
"Magna is an example of how you can preserve that small-town feel in the midst of a major metropolitan region," said County Mayor Ben McAdams. "I created the position of Township Executive for just this purposeto support areas within the county, such as Magna, as they implement their unique vision for a safe, healthy, economically vibrant place for families to live, work and play."
Tracy Tran, co-chairwoman of the implementation committee, said residents are keenly aware and proud of their history. "People have lived here for generations," she said. "That's why Main Street is important. It helps them hold onto their memories."
That history is showcased in monuments, and it's on display in the Magna Ethnic and Mining Museum, on Main Street at 9056 West.
For years, Magna was unofficially dubbed Ragtown because the town was built up from the tailings from the mines, according to the town's website.
The town's past also is reflected in the name of its park, Pleasant Green, after the community's original name. Movies are shown here and at Copper Park, another historical reminder. The movies are free and begin at sundown, starting June 15.
Where to go in Magna
Places to visit:
Ethnic and Mining Museum • Showcases artifacts from the mining industry; 9056 W. Main St. (2700 South)
Library • Among first Salt Lake County branches, new building opened in May 2011; 8339 W. 3500 South
Empress Theater • Originally opened in 1916 as a burlesque show for miners; 9104 W. Main St. (2700 South)
Great Saltair • Concert venue; hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar, 8 p.m. May 23; 12408 W. Saltair Drive
Veterans Memorial • World War I, Korean War and Vietnam, intersection of 2700 South and 8400 West
Monument • Commemorate first communities established west side of Salt Lake Valley; 4100 S. 8400 West Magna movies in the park
Free movies begin at sundown:
June 15 • "The Muppets," Pleasant Green Park
June 20 • "Real Steel," Pleasant Green Park
July 6 • "Captain America," Copper Park
July 22 • "Hugo," Pleasant Green Park
August 3-4 • "Pirates of the Caribbean," Pleasant Green Park
August 10 • "Puss in Boots," Pleasant Green Park
August 24 • "Zookeeper," Copper Park
Where • Pleasant Green Park, 3250 S. 8400 West; Copper Park, 8950 W. 2600 South