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Early Magna Settlements

Published / by Malcolm Harrison / 1 Comment on Early Magna Settlements

Write-up by: Malcolm Harrison

Photo Credit Malcolm Harrison

Placed by: Sons of the Utah Pioneers, Site Number 28

GPS Coordinates: 40.6833 N, -112.0915 W

Photo Credit Malcolm Harrison

Historical Marker Text: 

“Early Magna Settlements

In commemoration of the First Communities Established on the West Side of Salt Lake Valley and the First Major Industry of Utah

In 1853, Abraham Coon, an early Mormon pioneer, explored a canyon in the Oquirrh Mountains on the west side of Salt Lake Valley. He found an abundance of timber suitable for lumber and also a variety of oak tree the bark of which was useful in tanning leather. There was ample water to power a sawmill and a tan-bark processing plant. Abraham Coon obtained permission to open the canyon for these purposes, established a toll fee for access to the canyon, and used the revenue for the construction and maintenance of the road. The canyon was officially named Coon Canyon.

Abraham Coon and his family settled at the mouth of the canyon, and started a farming community that became known as Coonville. This was the first settlement on the west side of Salt Lake Valley and it covered a one-square-mile area south of this marker. The Coon, Deardon, Hardman, Shafer, Thomas, Sadler, Ek, Jenkins, and Larson families settled in the area. The 47th District School House was built here to house first- through eighth-grade classes and also church functions. 

In the 1860s, settlers from Salt Lake City were attracted to the fertile soil in this part of the valley, and the farming community of Pleasant Green grew up on the two-square-mile area north of Coonville. Early family names in Pleasant Green included Spencer, Reid, Taylor, Cockrell, Jacobs, Lecheminant, Breeze, Perkins, Sutton, Mellen, Hirst, Brown, Bouck, Bertoch, Hartley, Lambert, Whipple, Shields, Adamson, Drury, Featherstone, and Wolstenholme.

In 1906, Daniel C. Jackling brought the Utah Copper Company into operation by commencing open-pit mining in Bingham Canyon. Over the next forty years the mine, smelting, and milling operations were expanded and the company became known as Kennecott. The open-pit mine is truly one of the wonders of the world. The modernization of the mine and processing plants has gone forward, and in 1992 this remains one of the great copper producing centers of the world.

With the advent of the copper industry, Coonville and Pleasant Green merged into the unincorporated city of Magna. “Magna” means “magnificent” or “great,” a proud reference to the role played by the city and its people in the development of the copper industry. The name became official with the opening of the first Magna Post Office in 1917.”

Extended Research:

Many people believe that the Pioneers settled the Salt Lake Valley from East to West as the Saints arrived down through the Wasatch Mountains and expanded steadily towards the Oquirrh Mountains. As early as the mid-19th century, however, small groups and families spread out to settle areas west of Salt Lake City into modern-day West Jordan, Tooele, West Valley, and Magna. As the first settlement at the base of the Oquirrh Mountains, Magna has this secluded monument dedicated to preserving the story of how it was settled and cultivated. The legacy of this place is really the story of a town that has known many names.

Between 1851 and 1853 Abraham Coon and his family were the first of eight families to establish their homes and farms near the mouth of a small canyon called Coon’s Canyon. Natural resources could be found surrounding the canyon such as water flowing from natural springs and a mountain creek.[1] They called their new settlement Coonville, but this corner of the valley was called many different names over the years. According to A History of Salt Lake County, it was called “Mill Stone Point for its smooth stones suitable for grinding grain, stagecoach drivers then called it Point of West Mountain…Then the clutter of shanties and tents for migrant workers prompted the nickname Ragtown or Dinkeyville.”[2]

The history of the Early Magna Settlements and its various names has been quietly preserved through maps. In 1849 Colonel J. J. Abert ordered a map of the Salt Lake Valley to be surveyed.[3] At this time there was nothing noteworthy on the map west of the Jordan River aside from an irrigation ditch and a few sinks (places where flowing water disappears into the ground).

Stansbury, Howard, Cartographer, Surveyor, J. W Gunnison, Albert Carrington, Charles Preuss, Millard Fillmore, and Grambo & Co Lippincott. Map of the Great Salt Lake and adjacent country in the territory of Utah: surveyed in 1850 under the orders of Col. J.J. Abert. [Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., New York: Ackerman Lith, 1852] Map.

Just 40 years later in 1890, Collier & Cleaveland Lith. Co. produced another map of the Salt Lake Valley.[4] By this point, there were plenty of family farms and roads and two school districts. Abraham Coon lived to see all of this develop as he died only 5 years prior to the map’s completion. However, Coonville was not the official name on the map; by this time the town was known as Pleasant Green. A few years earlier on July 21, 1874, Judge Elias Smith had established the Pleasant Green Precinct. The name likely came from the reputation of the farms which produced bountiful crops, despite the arid climate, thanks to the natural mountain springs. It wasn’t until the arrival of Utah Copper Co. that the name Pleasant Green changed.

Collier & Cleaveland Lith. Co. Map of Salt Lake County, Utah. [Denver and Salt Lake City: Collier & Cleaveland Litho. Co, 1890] Map.

While knowledge of the rich mineral deposits in the Oquirrh Mountains was known since the early days of the pioneer’s arrival into the valley, no claims were officially staked until a decade after Abraham Coon and his family settled the area. Brigham Young, the first governor of Utah and simultaneously president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, encouraged all of the pioneers to put their time and effort into agriculture rather than mining. While it was not expressly forbidden to go prospecting or dig up minerals it was not considered a priority. Brigham Young himself said, “Gold is good in its place— it is good in the hands of a good man to do good with, but in the hands of a wicked man it often proves a curse instead of a blessing.”[5] With the passage of time and a strong push from outsiders like Colonel Patrick E. Connor, now known as the father of Utah mining, soon mining ventures opened up all over the state with one of the largest in the Oquirrh Mountains around the turn of the century.

Daniel C. Jackling created the Utah Copper Co. in 1906 which would later become Kennecott Copper Corporation. The company began constructing a mill in the area and Jackling decided to call it Magna, from the Latin word meaning “superior” or “great”.[6] The town post office also adopted the name Magna, which was not uncommon at the time. Many towns, especially small ones, were called one name and had another name for the post office. The town grew from a rural farm town and became known as a bustling mining town. The profitable mines attracted immigrants from all around the world including places like Greece, China, Italy, Serbia, Mexico, and more. Pleasant Green was slowly forgotten as the green farms were replaced with the roads and buildings of industrialization and urbanization.

Although initially settled by only a handful of families, by 1950 the population reached 3,502 and as of 2020, it has climbed to almost 30,000 residents.[7] Many people call this town home, but few know the history of the settling of where they now live. Not many know the stories of why the land where neighborhoods and shopping centers now stand used to be called Coonville, Millstone Point, Point of West Mountain, Ragtown, and Dinkyville. Today the Township of Magna is what appears on our maps, but there is certainly more than meets the eye to this small town with a rich history.

[1] Robert Goble, “Pleasant Green: The Town That Had Forgotten Its Name — Episode One.” YouTube, December 24, 2018.

[2] Linda Sillitoe, A History of Salt Lake County, Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City, UT, 1996, 153.

[3] Howard Stansbury, Cartographer, Surveyor, J. W Gunnison, Albert Carrington, Charles Preuss, Millard Fillmore, and Grambo & Co Lippincott. Map of the Great Salt Lake and adjacent country in the territory of Utah: surveyed in 1850 under the orders of Col. J.J. Abert. [Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., New York: Ackerman Lith, 1852] Map.

[4] Collier & Cleaveland Lith. Co. Map of Salt Lake County, Utah. [Denver and Salt Lake City: Collier & Cleaveland Litho. Co, 1890] Map.

[5] Brigham Young, The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star. Volume XII. 1850, 245. BYU Library Digital Collections.

[6] L. Stewart Radmall and Mark E. Walker. “Pioneer Monuments of the Sons of Utah Pioneers.” Internet Archive. Sons of Utah Pioneers, January 2, 2021.

[7] U.S. Census Bureau. “U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Magna Metro Township, Utah.” United States Census Bureau Quickfacts, May 3, 2022.

For Further Reference: 

Primary Sources

Collier & Cleaveland Lith. Co. Map of Salt Lake County, Utah. [Denver and Salt Lake City: Collier & Cleaveland Litho. Co, 1890] Map. 

Stansbury, Howard, Cartographer, Surveyor, J. W Gunnison, Albert Carrington, Charles Preuss, Millard Fillmore, and Grambo & Co Lippincott. Map of the Great Salt Lake and adjacent country in the territory of Utah: surveyed in 1850 under the orders of Col. J.J. Abert. [Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., New York: Ackerman Lith, 1852] Map. 

Secondary Sources

Goble, Robert. “Pleasant Green: The Town That Had Forgotten Its Name — Episode One.” YouTube. YouTube, December 24, 2018.  

Radmall, L. Stewart, and Mark E. Walker. “Pioneer Monuments of the Sons of Utah Pioneers.” Internet Archive. Sons of Utah Pioneers, January 2, 2021.  

Sillitoe, Linda. A History of Salt Lake County, Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City, UT, 1996, p. 153.  

Sadler, Richard W. “The Impact of Mining on Salt Lake City.” Utah Historical Quarterly 47, no. 3 (1979).  

U.S. Census Bureau. “U.S. Census Bureau Quickfacts: Magna Metro Township, Utah.” United States Census Bureau Quickfacts, May 3, 2022.

Young, Brigham. The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star. Volume XII. 1850, p. 245. BYU Library Digital Collections.  

The Brigham Young Monument (Pioneer Monument)

Published / by Seth Noon / Leave a Comment

Write-up by: Seth Noon

Placed By: It was originally unveiled in Chicago at the 1893 World’s Fair, created by Cyrus Edwin Dallin and commissioned by Wilford Woodruff. Shortly after that, it was moved to Salt Lake City, still unfinished, under the orders of Wilford Woodruff.

The GPS coordinates of the Brigham Young Monument.

40°46’10.4″N 111°53’27.9″W

40.769560, -111.891090

Historical Marker text (1)

The Names of the Pioneers Who Arrived in this Valley, July 24, 1847,

* Signifies Those Now Living. The Unmarked Ones Are All Deceased

Column One: Brigham Young • Clara Decker Young • Heber C. Kimball • Ellen S. Kimball • * Wilford Woodruff • George A. Smith • Amasa M. Lyman • Ezra T. Benson • Erastus Snow • Shadrach Roundy • Albert P. Rockwood • John Pack • Albert Carrington • Orrin P. Rockwell • William Clayton • Thomas Bullock • John S. Fowler • Jacob Burnham • * Joseph Egbert • John M. Freeman • Marcus B. Thorp • * George Wardle • Thomas Grover • Barnabus L. Adams

Column Two: Roswell Stevens • Sterling Driggs • * George W. Brown • Jesse c. Little • Phineas H. Young • John W. Green • Thomas Tanner • Addison Everett • Truman O. Angell • Lorenzo D. Young • Harriet Page Young • * Isaac Perry Decker • * Lorenzo Sobieski • Young • John Holman • Edmund Ellsworth • Alvarus Hanks • George R. Grant • Millen Atwood • Samuel Fox • Tunis Rappleyee • Eli H. Pierce • William Dykes • Jacob Weiler * Steven H. Goddard • Burr Frost

Column Three: Tarelton Lewis • Henry G. Sherwood • Zebedee Coltrin • Sylvester H. Earl • John Dixon • Samuel H. Marble • George Scholes • William Henrie • William A. Empey • * Charles Shumway • * Andrew Shumway • Thomas Woolsey • Chauncey Loveland • James Craig • William Wordsworth • * William P. Vance • Simeon Howd • Seeley Owen • James Case • Artemas Johnson • * William C.A. Smoot • * Benjamin Dewey • William Carter • Franklin G. Losee • Datus Ensign

Column Four: Franklin B. Stewart • Monroe Frink • Eric Clines • * Ozro Eastman • Seth Taft * Horace T. Thornton • Horace K. Whitney • Orson K. Whitney • * Stephen Kelsey • John S. Eldredge • Charles D. Barnum • Alma L. Williams • Rufus Allen • Robert T. Thomas • James W. Stewart • Elijah Newman • * Levi N. Kendall • Francis Boggs • David Grant • Howard Egan • William A. King • * Thomas B. Cloward • Hosea Cushing • Robert Byard • George Billings

Column Five: Edson Whipple • Philo Johnson • Appleton M. Harmon • Carlos Murray • Nathaniel T. Brown • Jackson R. Redden • Francis M. Pomeroy • * Aaron F. Farr • Nathaniel Fairbanks • John S. Higbee • John Wheeler • Soloman Chamberlain • * Conrad Kleinman • Jospeh Rooker • Perry Fitzgerald • John H. Tippetts • James Davenport • * Henson Walker • Benjamin Rolfe • Norton Jacob • * Charles A. Harper • Stephen Markham • * George Woodward • Lewis Barney • George Mills

Column Six: Andrew Gibbons • Joseph Hancock • * John W. Norton • Hans C. Hanson • Levi Jackman • * Lyman Curtis • John Brown • David Powers • Matthew Ivory • Jospeh Matthews • * John S. Gleason • Gilberd Summe • Charles Burke • Alexander P. Chessley • Rodney Badger • * Norman Taylor • Briant Stringam • Orson Pratt • Willart Richards • Joseph S. Scofield • Luke Johnson {Colored Servants: * Green Flake • Hark Lay • Oscar Crosby}

Historical Marker Transcript Text (2)

Photo of one of the plaques on the monument, signifying its dedication of the monument to Brigham Young and the original Pioneers. Taken 1940, March 16th. (1)

Extended Research

The Brigham Young Monument that is in downtown Salt Lake City has a fascinating and mildly dramatic past, filled with petty propaganda and annoyed citizens. The statue is 10 feet tall and was cut in stone but cast in bronze. It was originally designed to be cut with stone, with a 35-foot wide, 25-foot-tall base, but due to a combination of size and location, the 35-foot base was shortened significantly. It used to stand at the center of the intersection formed by Main Street and South Temple but was moved 82 feet north onto Temple Square in 1993. While the monument is often associated with Salt Lake City because it is of Brigham Young, and currently resides in Salt Lake City, the statue was actually completed in and originated from Chicago.

Cyrus Edward Dallin sculpted the now famous marble bust of Brigham Young and unveiled it in Chicago at the 1893 world’s fair. The LDS church had commissioned Dallin previously to create a statue of the angel Moroni (a Book of Mormon prophet) which now stands atop the Salt Lake City Temple. Dallin also sculpted busts of the first presidents of the LDS church, including Wilford Woodruff, who commissioned Dallin to design and sculpt a statue of Brigham Young. However due to a lack of funds, the statue remained unfinished. When the LDS church sought to complete the monument by ignoring Dallin’s initial vision, Dallin wrote to the church, saying “while I am most heartily in sympathy with your wishes and desires, I cannot allow these changes in my design. To put the single figure of President Young upon a large unadorned pedestal, as you design, would be manifestly inappropriate and would not only hurt me, but might seriously endanger the final completion” (3). The LDS church ignored Dallin’s opinions and even stopped paying him what they owed. Dallin wrote the church another letter in response to the Salt Lake City unveiling, explaining that “since the unveiling of the Brigham Young Statue in July 1897, (against my protestation) the monthly payments due me have ceased (in fact before then) and I wish to call your attention to the fact that you have broken your contract with me. It is now six months since I received the last word from you…. I am a poor man and am dependent on my work for my livelihood” (3). Dallin returned to Salt Lake City, and through his own effort, and after some threats, the church paid him to continue to work on the monument’s base.

Unveiling of the Brigham Young Monument in Salt Lake City (2)

The statue’s base was officially completed in 1900, three years after being unveiled in Salt Lake City, and seven years after being unveiled in Chicago. Dallin was still not satisfied with his work due to the changes that were forced upon it despite his contract. He made one last attempt to influence the design of the monument but was once again rebuffed. The monument was temporarily located on the Southeast corner of Temple Square. In 1900 the monument was moved to the center of the intersection of South Temple and Main Street. This was done so that it was in a more open and public area, with lots of traffic so that it could be viewed without obstruction.

Below is an image depicting where the monument was moved to and stayed for 93 years. Some people, however, lobbied for its relocation as time progressed.  Its location was originally not of concern or controversy because traffic mostly consisted of people, carriages, wagons and people on horseback. They did not foresee how technology would advance, and as the 20th century progressed, the car became more popular and common. The intersection began to service thousands of cars daily, and became an obstacle to drivers, especially those trying to make a left turn. As the growth of the city persisted, and cars became more prevalent, accidents rose and led to more strife aimed towards the monument. However, many different groups had different opinions and ideas as to how to remedy the situation.

In 1929, the Salt Lake City Rotary Club requested the monument’s removal from the intersection; Governor George H. Dern wanted to move it to Capitol Hill and surround it with flowers. The Brigham Young Family Association and the Daughters of Utah Pioneers each had different ideas, and so both met separately to discuss the monument. The Brigham Young Family Association voted to “vigorously oppose” the relocation, and Daughters of Utah Pioneers “unanimously protested” the relocation. Eventually the debate was settled when “George P. Parker, state attorney general . . . concluded that the site had been dedicated for the monument and it could not be legally moved without a majority vote of the people” (3). The debate rested until 1951, when Salt Lake City’s Traffic Commission made the mistake of trying to move the monument, which was met with an even more intense opposition.

Painting of Brigham Young Monument (4)

The mayor of Salt Lake City at the time, Earl J. Glade, said the monument was “a large part of the trademark” of the city, and that if “you take away that monument out of the intersection, and you take away a large part of Salt Lake City.” (3) The president of the American Pioneer Trails Association, Howard R. Driggs, said “It’s absurd—plain ridiculous, to think of moving the Brigham Young Monument.” (3) The president of the National Sons of Utah Pioneers, Fred E. Curtis, said “We feel they already have destroyed too much of pioneer history in this city and state”. (3) The Church also made its opinion known through the LDS-owned Deseret News, which had said in an editorial about the monument’s relocation, “one of the most shocking notions that has ever been born of an excess of zeal is the shortsighted proposal which has been informally launched by some of the members of Salt Lake City’s Advisory Traffic Commission.” (3) The Traffic Commission reversed course, and they didn’t dare to try and move it again. In 1955, there was a compromise, and 14 feet was shaved off the base of the statue and paved around it. This made traffic better and did not anger the LDS church or historical societies like the Daughters of Utah Pioneers.

In 1973, the Environmental Protection Agency mandated that Salt Lake City reduce pollution and congestion in downtown. Among the plans for improving congestion and pollution was one to renovate main street and make it more friendly to pedestrians. Renovating and expanding the base around the monument was a part of this effort. The monument had seen its base get significantly increased. And under this new effort by the city, fountains were installed on the east and west sides of the monument, extending out completely as to not allow through traffic, going north and south. These additions were complete by 1975 but were short lived. This in theory would reduce traffic in the region, but it did not, as more businesses moved into the newly revitalized main street.

Brigham Young Statue with added fountains (5)

Because the statue became more accessible, another controversy over the statue began. The wide base with fountains attracted people, and people noticed that there was a plaque on the pedestal that listed the names of the original pioneers. Three of the names however, were labeled as “colored servants.” This sparked a small debate over the language, with some like Salt Lake City Commissioner Stephen M. Harmsen, calling it “an embarrassment to our city” in a city council meeting in April of 1975. Others like Bertha Udell, argued that changing the language would be an attempt at trying to rewrite/hide the true history of the pioneers. The monument serves to preserve history and help us remember it, and while it was intended to remember Brigham Young and the Pioneers, it also preserves the way in which these men were seen and labeled. They were not seen as pioneers and instead called servants. Hark Lay was one of the three enslaved men listed above. He was freed after being taken to California and changed his name to Hark Wales, yet the monument remembered him by his former enslaver’s last name instead of his own. The same was true for Oscar Smith who was included on the monument as Oscar Crosby, the surname of his enslaver. Green Flake was the third enslaved man listed on the monument. Flake continued to use his enslaver’s last name after Brigham Young freed him in 1852. The monument preserved more than just Brigham Young’s legacy, it also preserved the racism that was present in Utah in the 19th century.

            In 1978, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce proposed relocating the Monument from its spot at the intersection to the front of the temple, along Main Street, with a park being built around it. Some citizens supported the move, citing traffic and pollution as concerns. Others were in favor of the move, simply because the statue had Brigham’s hand pointing to Zions bank and his back towards the Temple. A jingle of unknown origin emerged amongst the locals: “There stands Brigham High on his perch, With his hand to the bank and his back to the church.” (3) There were also many citizens who opposed it because moving the statue would involve destroying the $130,000 base that had been constructed only 3 years prior. The debate raged on, with the church itself largely conflicted: some wanted the statue to be in front of the temple, and some members of the church did not want the view of the temple to be obstructed and suggested that it be moved somewhere else within Temple Square. Historical Societies like the Brigham Young Family Association opposed the move, because they were not consulted. Some citizens favored the idea of moving the statue to a prestigious location like Capitol Hill, so they could save face, and not appear to just be moving the monument because it was in the way. The matter of the statue’s location became ever more public with citizens proposing ideas on how to remedy the controversy. News reporters asked citizens what they thought: One man suggested mounting the monument on wheels so it could be moved about without a fuss. Another suggested relocating it to the corner of the intersection and making Brigham’s arms moveable so he could direct traffic”. (3) The City ended up voting to not move the statue as it did not want to “sacrifice” the monument for the sake of easing traffic. In 1980, the city was able to quietly remove the fountains and massive base they had added in 1975, and in 1992, Salt Lake City elected Deedee Corradini as Mayor and she initiated change.

Deedee Corradini was by most accounts a very competent mayor: she balanced the city’s budget, helped plan the Ball Park stadium downtown, as well became a champion of Trax and the 2002 Olympics. She was presented with an Olympic flag, the first female mayor to receive that honor, and she was also the first female elected mayor of Salt Lake City. When she took office, she began to quietly plan the movement of the Brigham Young Monument. Corradini and the LDS church began talks on where to move the monument in late 1992. The Brigham Young Family Association were eventually brought into the talks as well, ensuring all three major parties had input on the relocation of the monument. They used common sense, and moved the statue 82 feet north, so that it was no longer in the street, and instead along the sidewalk. Former Mayor Ted Wilson who was involved in the 1978 debate over the monument said “I think [moving the statue eighty-two feet north] was a brilliant solution.”(3) Carl Kates, a Deseret News editorial writer, said this after the monument had been taken down to be refurnished and then relocated: “No public protest ensued; indeed, almost nobody cared.” (3)

The Brigham Young Monument appears to be a relatively normal statue, but its history is anything but normal. It is gloriously abstract, from its construction to its endless and needlessly heated debates about its location in the middle of two prominent streets in downtown Salt Lake City. The statue may look like a statue to most, but to a very influential and important few it was coveted and treated as almost sacred as evident by the actions of several governors, mayors, LDS presidents, and groups like the Brigham Young Family Association. Its present location is a compromise of the desires of all the parties involved. The monument was moved onto Temple Square, pleasing the church; it was out of the street, pleasing the city; and it was still in the center of downtown, pleasing the Brigham Young Family Association. Just as the statue commemorates and reifies stories of enslaved and free pioneers, its stillness hides the tensions of its movement. The most accurate yet brief statement about the monument is that it took 93 years to move it 82 feet and out of a street.

For Further Reference

Photos and images

(1) Content pulled from the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriot Digital Library

(2) Content pulled from the Brigham young University Scholars Archive

(3) Hunter, J. Michael. “The Monument to Brigham Young and the Pioneers: One Hundred Years of Controversy.” Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, Number 4, (2000).

(4) Painting by the Deseret Book Company

(5) picture provided is a Plastichrome by Colorpicture, postcard

(6) Photo by Lindsay Aikman/Michael Priest Photography

(7) Photo taken by Rick Egan, of AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune.

Primary Sources

Parry, Joseph Hyrum. The “Mormon” Metropolis. an Illustrated Guide to Salt Lake City and Its Environs, Containing Illustrations and Descriptions of Principal Places of Interest to Tourists. Also Interesting Information and Historical Data with Regard to Utah and Its People. Salt Lake City: J.H. Parry & Co., 1887.

“Round-up: 1897-07-09: Brigham Young Monument.” Utah Digital Newspapers. Accessed February 2, 2022.

Secondary Sources

Hunter, J. Michael. “The Monument to Brigham Young and the Pioneers: One Hundred Years of Controversy.” Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 68, Number 4, (2000).

The Old Rock Granary

Published / by James Delliskave / Leave a Comment

Write-up by James Delliskave

Placed by: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, No. 100 (1), National Society of the Sons of Utah Pioneers, No. 33 (2)

GPS Coordinates: 40° 38’ 54” N, 111° 52’ 13” W

Historical Marker Text (1):

As early as 1845 Brigham Young advised the saints to store grain. December 14, 1876 Bishop Joseph S. Rawlins asked the sisters living in this vicinity to store wheat. February 8, 1877 the first donations were received. A temporary bin was built later. Later, a tract of land 20 rods wide was given for the granary. On July 13, 1877 Mary Rawlins was made chairman of the building committee. Some of the young men were asked to haul the rock. On May 17, 1878 the granary was completed. 

Historical Marker Text (2)

This area, 56th South and Vine Street, known as South Cottonwood, was one of the early religious and social centers for the church in the Salt Lake Valley. To the north of here about 600 feet was a campground used by the stone haulers for the Salt Lake Temple, the site being approximately halfway between the quarry and the temple ground. Also, may it be remembered that for those sturdy men who struggled here, the summer heat, spring and fall mud, and inadequate equipment made the task difficult. But they prevailed. 

Extended Research

South Cottonwood was a former town that now comprises the eastern portion of the City of Murray. Part of the western area of South Cottonwood was used as a rest stop at the approximate halfway point for the stone-haulers of the Salt Lake Temple on the way from Little Cottonwood Canyon.1 This work began in 1860, when granite was excavated from the canyon’s quarry and hauled to Salt Lake City by up to four yokes of oxen over a period of three to four days.2 However once the railroad was constructed in 1873, the rock was almost exclusively transported by rail.

Years after the site was used as a rest stop, on December 14, 1876, Bishop Joseph S. Rawlins of the South Cottonwood Ward met with the members of the Relief Society, the charitable women’s organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and had indicated that grain storage was not being done within the ward.3 Less than three months earlier in the October 15, 1876 edition of The Woman’s Exponent, the newspaper published by and for members of the Relief Society,Brigham Young asked the Relief Society sisters “to build storehouses for the storing of grain in the sections of country as they shall divide off”.4 Young counseled the men of the various communities to assist the women in the construction and financial backing of the construction of granaries. Emmeline B. Wells, the head of the Church’s general Relief Society captained the operation, and all grain storage activities were administered under her direction.5

However, issues in many Latter-day Saint wards or congregations began to arise regarding the storage of grain. Church bishops, who were the male leaders of each congregation, often sought to wrestle the control of grain storage facilities from the Relief Society so that they could distribute it to the poor and to serve the needs of the ward. Many bishops would continue to do so even when rebuked. This tug-of-war between Relief Society women and Latter-day Saint priesthood authorities would be constant and continuous.6

In the South Cottonwood ward, the members of the Relief Society gleaned in the local grain fields, and held fundraisers from the selling of household items, as well as holding a party, which collectively raised $32.50, the equivalent of $853.95 in 2022, for the purchase of the initial grain which they then stored. Local leaders then put Mary Rawlins in charge of the granary building committee on July 13, 1877, and in the meantime the grain was stored in a temporary bin in the granary personally owned by Bishop Rawlins. The Relief Society then purchased an additional $50.35 ($1322.97 in 2022) worth of wheat.

View facing the Northwest corner

Under the direction of Mary Rawlins, the committee selected a A 20-rod (330 feet) wide tract of land on September 13, 1877. Charles Walters, who had previously constructed the temporary bin in Bishop Rawlins’s granary was responsible for the carpentry on this structure, and Joseph Thompson performed the overall work on the building. The young men of the ward were tasked with hauling the granite needed for construction. The granite was sourced from the Little Cottonwood Canyon quarry and from stones found around the area. To pay for the granary itself, the Relief Society held a fundraising dance.7

View facing west, showing granite exterior mixed with local rocks. 

The finished structure was, upon its completion on May 17, 1878, 10 feet by 20 feet with an 8 foot ceiling. The walls were 18 inches thick and consisted of an interior layer of brick, with an exterior of granite and initially held 195 bushels of wheat. The grain stored was used to help people affected by war, poverty, and famine. 

At the end of World War I, the war had caused food shortages in Europe. The United States government asked for grain and other foodstuffs to alleviate the suffering. The LDS Relief Society sold 205,518 bushels of wheat and earned the thanks of Herbert Hoover, the then head of the US  Food Administration. Many years afterward the Relief Society program of storing grain was officially terminated in 1978, and the money that would have been directed toward storage was instead diverted toward Church welfare and health services.8

View facing the southeast corner

The granary itself is the last surviving pioneer-era building located in this particular section of South Cottonwood, at the time it was constructed it was adjacent to an 1856 adobe church near a cooperative store, a cemetery, a hospital, and a dairy.9 In 1995, the granary was restored and a small commemorative park was established. 

View facing east

  1. “South Cottonwood Temple Granite Rest Camp Park Dedication Program October 22, 1995.” (Murray, Utah, 1995). 
  2. Don F. Colvin “Quarrying the Temple Granite.” Ensign 5, No. 10. (1975)
  3. Murray City Museum, “The Rock Granary DC0392.” (1995).
  4. “Sisters Be in Earnest,” The Woman’s Exponent, 5. (1876): 76.
  5. Jessie L. Embry, “Grain Storage: The Balance of Power Between Priesthood Authority and Relief Society Autonomy,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15, No. 4: 60.
  6. Embry, 61-62.
  7. Murray City Museum, “The Rock Granary DC0392”. (1995).
  8. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “A Call to Save Grain.”
  9. Murray City Museum, “DC410”. 1995. 

For Further Reference

Primary Sources

“Sisters Be in Earnest,” The Woman’s Exponent, 5. (1876): 76.

Secondary Sources

Colvin, Don F. “Quarrying the Temple Granite”. Ensign 5, No. 10. (1975).

Embry, Jessie L., “Grain Storage: The Balance of Power Between Priesthood Authority and Relief Society Autonomy,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15, No. 4: 60.

Murray City Museum, “The Rock Granary DC0392”. 1995. 

Murray City Museum, “DC410”. 1995. 

“South Cottonwood Temple Granite Rest Camp Park Dedication Program October 22, 1995.” (Murray, Utah, 1995). 

Anasazi State Park

Published / by Morgan Robinson / Leave a Comment

Write-up by: Morgan Robinson

Placed By: Natural History Museum of Utah

GPS Coordinates: 37.9107959, -111.4238112

Historical Marker Text: Garfield County, Combs Village Site, 50 Years Natural History Museum of Utah, Natural History Markers of Utah, 2020,

Photo By: Morgan Robinson

Extended Research:

Photo By: Morgan Robinson

The Combs Village is an old Native American historical site that contains building ruins from the Anasazi people. The Anasazi people, now known as the Ancestral Puebloans, and Fremont people show evidence of occupying this territory. There is historical evidence of both groups being here and there are many artifacts at this site that represent both of these groups. One explanation for this is that this could have been a trade center for Native American people in 1075.[1] Overall historians at the University of Utah have claimed that this site was primarily a settlement for the Ancestral Puebloans that was used as a trading hub for the rest of the surrounding Native American communities.

            The Ancestral Puebloans lived and worked in the dwellings at the Anasazi State Park. Some of the buildings were used as living quarters while others were used as storage rooms. There is also an Ancestral Puebloan pit house at this site. Pit houses were used for religious proceedings. These people were agriculturally based people, “they grew corn, beans, and squash.” [2] They also, grew, “wild seeds and grains [that] were ground into flour using a mano and metate.” [3]  Furthermore, they created pottery that served many different purposes. The museum also displays artifacts that depict game playing, hunting, and participating in religious ceremonies at the site.

Photo By: Morgan Robinson
Photo By: Morgan Robinson

When the Ancestral Puebloans left this site, “about 160 years after the village was established, […] much of the village was burned.” [4] They moved away from the original site where they had settled and burned their entire village when they left. This site went hundreds of years before being discovered again but in 1976, this site was named to the National Historic Registry.[5] Since being discovered, archeologists have excavated and searched the site and found many of the artifacts that were used to establish our current knowledge of the site and the people that lived there. Visitors will find the remanent of the dwellings the Ancestral Puebloans lived in backed up against modern architecture. Visitors will also see a museum with many artifacts that were discovered at the site just in front of the actual dwellings.

Photo By: Morgan Robinson
Photo By: Morgan Robinson

The museum at the Anasazi State Park has many artifacts that show the ways in which the ancestral Puebloans lived. They have pots, arrowheads, a shoe, ladles, bowls, basket fragments, pieces that were used to play a game, and more artifacts in the back of the museum with information about these different artifacts.  The “new Anasazi State Park will be dedicated at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 19” according to a newspaper article in the Garfield County Newspaper in 1997.[6] They held events prior to the dedication ceremony in order to celebrate this momentous occasion. Currently, this site is run by the Utah State Parks. Over many years, they have offered, “Utahns of today and tomorrow a chance to learn about Utah’s ancient people and their culture.” [7] Overall, the museum and the ruins at Anasazi State Park highlight a very important time period in America and especially in Utah history.

For Further Reference:

Explorer Corps Marker: Garfield County.” Natural History Museum of Utah, 10 June 2021.

Smith, Shelley J., et al. “The Anasazi People.” Intrigue of the Past: Investigating Archaeology, Utah Interagency Task Force on Cultural Resources, Salt Lake City, UT, 1992, pp. 72–79.

Whiterocks Named to National Historical Registry.” Vernal Express, 29 Jan. 1976, pp. 14–14.

“New Anasazi Museum Will be Dedicated on Saturday,” Garfield County News, 17 April 1997.

Donner Trail, 1846

Published / by Connor VanWagoner / 2 Comments on Donner Trail, 1846

Write-up by Connor Van Wagoner

Placed by: Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association, 1931

GPS Coordinates: 40.772159, -111.920372

Historical Marker Text:

 The Donner Party led by George and Jacob Donner and James F. Reed passed here and crossed Jordan River nearby About September 2, 1846 This party, consisting of 91 persons, 35 of them children, was delayed 2 weeks building a road via Emigration Canyon, lost some wagons and many animals crossing Great Salt Lake Desert and became snowbound in the Sierra Nevada mountains where 35 of them perished that winter


Extended Research:

            During the 19th century, “Manifest Destiny” came to dominate American culture. Manifest Destiny asserted that the United States had a god-given right to settle and expand the country westward. In hindsight, it is difficult to explain just how influential the idea of “Manifest Destiny” was on the average American. The coinage of this term in 1845 was coming fresh off the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century, a strong and widespread religious revival that instilled deep religious beliefs and values amongst many Americans. These beliefs at the time related Christian values with civility. America largely viewed the “unsettled” West as a region lacking Christianity and thus lacking civility. Christianity provided justification for Americans to expand westward and the continued encroachment on Native lands to fill the region with America’s idea of civilization.[1] As this intense religious and expansionist fervor spread widely across the United States, Americans were much more inclined to grip tight in their minds their religious right to settle in the west. As a result, settlers from far and wide packed up their things to seek fortune and better lives in the west.[2]

(Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

            One of these groups of settlers was known as the Donner Party, also referred to as the Donner-Reed Party. In 1846, just one year after the coinage of “Manifest Destiny,” this group of settlers left their hometown of Illinois to follow through on their own Manifest Destiny. The Donner party itself can be seen as a reflection on the broader rhetoric of westward expansion and the “development of American national identity” following the Second Great Awakening and with the expansion of “Manifest Destiny.”[3] A man named James Clyman, who was part of the Lansford W. Hastings party, traveled east from California to Utah. Hastings was the author of a prominent Emigrant’s Guide to California and he hoped to attract overland migrants to try a new route across the salt desert, a route he promoted as a short cut. Clyman, as a member of Hasting’s group, would prove to be incredibly influential among several Donner Party members.

Along this trek, Clyman wrote in detail about his experience on this journey from west to east and the potential roadblocks that other settlers might encounter. Within Clyman’s diaries, historians can see early signs of potential struggles that settlers may encounter in the Mountain Dell area. Clyman wrote, “A Large vally seem[s] to run a great distance north waard [sic] The…earthe is much dryer so also it is much Looser in as much that our animals many timis sink up to their knees in the dry earth…[we have] too many for this rout at so early a season of the year… we will probably divide our company in a few days.”[4]

The difficult terrain of the region caused immense difficulties for travelers as their horses would oftentimes get stuck in the terrain. “I begin to conclude that californea Horses are not a hardy race of animals,” Clyman says with a sense of hubris, putting the blame of the difficulties on the animals instead of the route and the company itself. Within this diary, Clyman also discusses the vast and oddly shaped “concreete” rocks that devour the region. In his writings, he seems to downplay the rough terrain and instead describe the region as barren and desolate.[5] Many people like the Donner Party interpreted this as a safe route. The Donner Party, at least many of its members, were heavily influenced by Clyman and other Hastings party members to try the Hasting’s cutoff. This reliance on the Hastings party route in the Mountain Dell area would prove to be an absolutely disastrous decision for the Donner Party.

(Photo of James Clyman. Photo within the public domain)

            Had the Donner Party taken already established routes, perhaps the well known disaster of their group could have been avoided. Nevertheless, members of the Donner Party decided to follow the so-called “Hastings Route.” After Clyman’s eventual successful trek through this passage, Lansford Hastings (who never actually went on the trek himself before publishing his emigrant’s guide) then began to encourage emigrants to travel his supposed cutoff. He claimed that this route was a direct passage to California.[6] He attracted four migrant companies to try his route. The fourth settler group to test out this new route was the Donner Party.

Even before the Donner Party reached the Salt Lake Valley, the difficult decision on which route to take dominated the party’s daily conversations. After fierce arguments and a potential murder in cold blood, the party made their way down the “Hastings Route.” The first three migrant groups went via Weber Canyon, a difficult route for wagons. The Donner Party instead blazed a new route through what came to be called Emigration Canyon. In blazing the new trail they lost valuable time and made slow progress. There were no signs, no markers, and hardly any trails left behind from the Hastings route. One scholar writes, “They had no road to follow, only the faintest markings of a trail left by Clyman.”[7] In an account from Donner Party member Jacob Wright Harlon, he describes how the trek from Fort Bridger to Salt Lake was “difficult and disagreeable.” He discusses how the grassy and rocky terrain made it incredibly hard to travel and that many members of the party argued about which way to go. He notes how some members went ahead of others, rendering other subgroups of the Donner Party to be left behind for several days. He also describes traveling through the Great Salt Lake. They lost multiple cattle and the saltiness of the water made it almost undrinkable. “They were so exhausted and spirit-broken,” Harlan writes.[8]

(An area in which the Donner Party traveled through the Great Salt Lake Desert. P0220 The Great Salt Lake Photograph Collection, P0220n01_01_02a)

The challenges faced by the Donner Party are difficult to put into words and accurately explain just how terrible the conditions were for this group of settlers. The Donner Party encountered incredibly difficult terrain to traverse, as described by Clyman in his diaries, which inevitably resulted in a plethora of setbacks and delays. Their struggles crossing Utah cost them valuable time and led to them being pinned down in an early winter storm in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Their wagons and animals were finding it increasingly difficult to continue their journey. As they continued to face difficult terrain, many of the emigrants crossed the Great Salt Lake Desert. Traveling through the desert resulted in many of their animals stampeding to search for water. Evidently, the Donner Party lost many of these animals. The loss of these animals had severe implications for the Donner Party. Not only did they depend on many of these animals for food, they also depended on them for pulling the enormous weight of their wagons.[9] Facing yet another setback, the Donner Party needed to regroup and cache their supplies.

The Donner Party continued through the desert to the Sierra Nevada region in which Native American attacks saw even further reduction in their livestock supply. These Native American encounters display the disconnect between “Manifest Destiny’s” ideas of the west as an empty and tameable land to what this area really was: an already widely inhabited region filled with distinct and rich cultures, practices, societies, and groups of people. Native attacks on the Donner Party were far from baseless. Settlers encroached onto their land and they attacked the Donner Party in an attempt to preserve their land and their people. While the attacks were incredibly damaging for the Donner Party, it is imperative to understand the threat the Donner Party posed to Native Americans in this region.[10]

Just when they thought it could not get any worse, an early disastrous snowstorm struck the Sierra Nevadas. This resulted in the Donner Party being stranded in the region for nearly four months.[11] Mary Ann Graves, another member of the Donner Party, documents the struggles she and the party faced. She writes, “Our travels and sufferings are too horrible to relate.” In her company of 25-30 men, she states that only four survived the perilous winter. Her father died on Christmas eve and they were left without fire and food to endure the storm. She describes how two Native Americans were murdered in order to eat their flesh. It is unclear just how this decision came to fruition, but it highlights the unbelievable desperation the Donner Party faced. Not wanting to kill their own and looking down the barrel of death, the party decided to commit two murders in an attempt to alleviate their dire situation. Perhaps it was revenge for the previous attacks they faced or simply just desperation, but these murders display how the Donner Party was now willing to do anything in order to increase their chances of survival no matter how unjustifiable their actions may be. Her own family members died and they had to resort to eating their corpses. Once relief from other companies came, she described how some had to be left behind as they were too weak to continue. An argument ensued between two men in the party resulting in one of them being stabbed to death. She beautifully yet horrifyingly says, “No tongue can exceed in description the reality.”[12]

           (Artist’s interpretation of the Donner Party winter Courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica, © North Wind Picture Archives.

The Second Great Awakening and the idea of “Manifest Destiny” drastically altered the societal and cultural dynamic of the United States in the 19th century. Americans migrated West because they believed they could live better lives there. It is important to remember at this time, these western regions of the United States still belonged to Mexico and not the United States. Nevertheless, this cultural and societal shift in the United States resulted in emigration to Mexican and Western American regions. Influenced by this changing rhetoric, the Donner Party was one of the groups that decided to manifest their own destiny in the West following the religious revival in the Second Great Awakening. After reading about an alleged shortcut to California, the Donner Party faced indescribable hardships in the Great Salt Lake and Sierra Nevada Regions. The Donner Party might have been using the best information available at the time when deciding to take the “Hastings Route” instead of established routes. Nevertheless, understanding the decision making process behind this decision, the encounters they faced on their westward journey, and the harrowing struggles they faced allows us to better understand and remember the story of the Donner Party. Through analyzing the Donner Party, we can better understand how the general shifts in American beliefs affected the average American, how distrust and dissent amongst a group can lead to disaster, and how, maybe, arrogance can lead to disaster for others, as it did with the Donner Party.

The historical marker placed by the Utah Trails and Landmarks Association offers no explanation of the encounters the Donner Party faced when traveling west or even the reasons why they traveled west. Though Americans might identify the party with cannibalism and death, the more nuanced information of their travels westward has fallen by the wayside. As this marker was placed over ninety years ago, it is crucial we update this marker to better remember the Donner Party’s story in the modern day. In doing so, we can remember the deeper and more powerful story of the Donner Party that has been eroded over the years.

For Further Reference:

Battle, Cullen. “Ghosts of Mountain Dell: Transportation and Technological Change in the Wasatch Mountains.” Utah Historical Quarterly 86, no. 1 (2018): 6–23.

Clyman, James, and Charles L. Camp. “James Clyman: His Diaries and Reminiscences (Continued).” California Historical Society Quarterly 5, no. 2 (1926): 109–38.

Conroy-Krutz, Emily. “Introduction.” In Christian Imperialism: Converting the World in the Early American Republic. Cornell University Press, 2018.

Dixon, Kelly J., Shannon A. Novak, Gwen Robbins, Julie M. Schablitsky, G. Richard Scott, and Guy L. Tasa. “Men, Women, and Children Starving: Archeology of the Donner Family Camp.” American Antiquity 75, no. 3 (2010): 627–56.

Graves, Mary Ann and Johnson, Kristin, ed. “Mary Ann Graves (1826–1891).” In Unfortunate Emigrants, 126–31. Logan, UT. Utah State University Press, 1996.

Grayson, Donald K. “Donner Party Deaths: A Demographic Assessment.” Journal of Anthropological Research 46, no. 3 (1990): 223–42.

Harlan, Jacob Wright and Kristin Johnson, ed . “Jacob Wright Harlan (1828–1902).” In Unfortunate Emigrants: Narratives of the Donner Party. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1996.

Isenberg, Andrew C., and Thomas Richards. “Alternative Wests: Rethinking Manifest Destiny.” Pacific Historical Review 86, no. 1 (2017): 4–17.

Johnson, Kristin. “Sufferers in the Mountains .” In An Archaeology of Desperation: Exploring the Donner Party’s Alder Creek Camp. University of Oklahoma Press, 2020.

Stuckey, Mary E. “The Donner Party and the Rhetoric of Westward Expansion.” Rhetoric and Public Affairs 14, no. 2 (2011): 229–60

[1] Emily Conroy-Krutz, “Introduction,” in Christian Imperialism: Converting the World in the Early

American Republic (Cornell University Press, 2018).

[2] Andrew C. Isenberg and Thomas Richards , “Alternative Wests: Rethinking Manifest Destiny,” Pacific Historical Review 86, no. 1 (2017): pp. 4-17.

[3] Mary E. Stuckey, “The Donner Party and the Rhetoric of Westward Expansion,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 14, no. 2 (2011): pp. 229-260,

[4] James Clyman and Charles L. Camp, “James Clyman: His Diaries and Reminiscences (Continued),”California Historical Society Quarterly 5, no. 4 (1926): pp. 378-401.

[5] ibid

[6] Donald K. Grayson, “Donner Party Deaths: A Demographic Assessment,” Journal of Anthropological Research 46, no. 3 (1990): pp. 223-242.

[7] Cullen Battle, “Ghosts of Mountain Dell: Transportation and Technological Change in the Wasatch Mountains,” Utah Historical Quarterly 86, no. 1 (January 2018): pp. 6-23.

[8] Jacob Wright Harlan , “Jacob Wright Harlan (1828–1902),” in Unfortunate Emigrants: Narratives of the Donner Party (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1996).

[9] Kelly J. Dixon et al., “‘Men, Women, and Children Starving’: Archaeology of the Donner Family Camp,” American Antiquity 75, no. 3 (2010): pp. 627-656.

[10] Kristin Johnson, “Sufferers in the Mountains,” in An Archaeology of Desperation: Exploring the Donner Party’s Alder Creek Camp (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2020).

[11] Kelly J. Dixon et al., “‘Men, Women, and Children Starving’: Archaeology of the Donner Family Camp,”

[12] Mary Ann Graves, “Mary Ann Graves (1826–1891),” in Unfortunate Emigrants: Narratives of the Donner Party (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1996).

Utah and the Civil War

Published / by Dylan Fawson / Leave a Comment

write-up by Dylan Fawson

Placed by: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, No. 270

Utah Civil War Monument in front of the Utah State Capitol. Phot Credit: Dylan Fawson

GPS Coordinates: 40° 46′ 36.1″ N, 111° 53′ 25.5″ W

Historical Marker Text (1):

Utah and the Civil War

This monument honors the Utah men who answered the call to protect the mail and telegraph lines along the continental route during the Civil War. April 25, 1862 acting governor of Utah, Frank Fuller, called for volunteers from the Nauvoo Legion. The next day twenty-four men under Col. Robert T. Burton left for their assignment. Two days later Brigham Young received an authorization from President Abraham Lincoln, through secretary-of-war Stanton, for a company of cavalry to serve ninety days protecting the same route. One hundred and six men responded for duty under Captain Lot Smith. Later some Utah men joined the 3rd Regiment, California Volunteers, stationed at Fort Douglas, Oct. 1862 – July 1866. Other pioneers served in the Civil War before coming to Utah.

Top plaque of the Civil War Monument. Photo Credit: Dylan Fawson

Historical Marker Text (2): 

Utah Civil War Casualty

Lieutenant Henry Wells Jackson (March 10, 1827 – May 27, 1864), was the only Utah battle fatality of the Civil War and the first-known Latter-day Saint to be killed in a U.S. national conflict. Jackson marched in the Mormon Battalion, Company D, musician; panned for gold at Mormon Island (now Folsom Lake), California; and used gold to pay for his wedding. He and Eliza Ann Dibble were married in Salt Lake on February 3, 1850, by Brigham Young. Henry and Eliza started a family and helped establish settlements in Tooele Valley and San Bernardino, California. In 1858, Henry carried mail for George Chorpenning on the Overland Mail Route, a precursor to the Pony Express. Due to bad management, Henry was owed $1,300 in back pay for his mail service. He decided to go back East to try and collect the money. Payment was delayed, so Henry took employment as a wagon master and was ultimately captured by the Confederate Army and held as prisoner for three months. He was later released in exchange for Confederate prisoners. Because of the way he was treated he decided to fight for the Union. Henry enlisted with the First Regiment, District of Columbia, Volunteer Cavalry and was commissioned as a lieutenant due to his previous service in the Mormon Battalion. On May 8, 1864, Henry took part in the Battle of White Bridge near Jarrett’s Station, Virginia, and was shot. Due to infection, he died on May 27, 1864, leaving behind his wife and three children. Henry Wells Jackson is buried in Hampton National Cemetery and is remembered for his great sacrifice and love for family and country.

Photo credit: Dylan Fawson

Extended Research: 

When the Civil War began, a major worry of President Abraham Lincoln was communication between the eastern and western halves of the country. Although telegraph lines spanned the length of the country, attacks by Indian tribes sometimes left the telegraph lines down for several days. Although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had been weary of the government in the past, Brigham Young said that “Utah has not seceded from the Union, but is firm for the Constitution and laws of our once happy country.” Utah’s geographical location, as well as Brigham Young’s recent declaration of loyalty to the Union, made Utah and the Mormon Militia a convenient option to protect the telegraph lines.[1]

On April 25, 1862, acting governor of Utah Frank Fuller sent a telegram to Daniel H. Wells, the militia commander over the Utah Territory, requesting a group of volunteers to guard mail and passenger routes from the “depredations of hostile Indians.”[2] The volunteers, under the command of Colonel Robert T. Burton, left Salt Lake City the following day and traveled due east along the United States mail route. The Burton company consisted of 24 men. On April 28, three days after the original telegraph, Brigham Young received another communication, this time from President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln allowed Young to raise another cavalry for 90 days of service. This company, which consisted of 105 men, was placed under the command of Captain Lot Smith. This company, in addition to guarding overland mail lines like the first company, would also be in charge of guarding telegraph lines, between Fort Bridger and Laramie, Wyoming. Because of delays in getting equipment ready for the expedition, this company did not leave Utah until May 1.[3]

Although Brigham Young swore loyalty to the Union at the outbreak of the Civil War, many in the United States had lingering distrust about Mormons, largely because of two events in the years preceding the Civil War: the Utah War and the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Although the Utah War, which happened between 1857 and 1858, fell short of violence between Utah and the federal government, a tense relationship between the two resulted in the United States army marching west to Utah. The Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857 was much more extreme.

In September of 1857, during a time of reformation for the Mormon church, the Fancher-Baker party was traveling westward through Utah in route to California. After a reported verbal confrontation in Cedar City, Utah, between the party and local Mormons, the Fancher-Baker party continued west. After an initial attack by a Mormon militia and Paiute Indians killed several members of the party, the party pulled their wagons into a circle and were besieged by the militia. Four days after this attack, on September 11th, 1857, the Mormon militia convinced the party to surrender and handover their weapons, claiming they would march the party back to Cedar City. The Mormon militia proceeded to massacre the party. Save for those they deemed too young to be able to remember, militiamen killed some 120 men, women, and children.[4] It was because of these two events that the two companies were only chosen for 90 days of service, and was also a major reason why a third group, led by General Patrick Edward Connor, would be sent to Utah. 

These two companies did not do any fighting and did not have much trouble along the way other than bad weather at times. In a letter to Brigham Young in June of 1862, Lot Smith informed him that “the Company are all well, some few exceptions of cold and slight fever, the Brethren who have suffered are now fast recovering.”[5] At the time of Smith’s correspondence, they’d had four pack animals stolen from them and one horse had frozen to death.

In addition to the two groups of Utah volunteers, a volunteer group from California was formed under the command of General Patrick Edward Connor, with the same purpose of guarding telegraph lines.[6] Connor’s company, stationed in Utah, established Fort Douglas as part of Connor’s attempt to keep an eye on the Latter-day Saints. Connor, like many at the time, was distrustful of the Saints because of earlier events. While stationed in Utah, Connor and his men traveled north to Idaho where they committed the Bear River Massacre, killing hundreds of Northwestern Shoshone.[7]Other troops removed from the conflict in the East committed similar atrocities, such as the Sand Creek Massacre on November 29, 1864.

However, not all interactions with Native Americans were hostile. In a telegram dated July 13, 1862, Lot Smith described how a Colonel Collins traveled over 300 miles to meet with a Shoshone leader by the name of Washakie.[8]Although Washakie told them that he was no longer acknowledged as the Head Chief and could not agree to terms, he made his men return a stolen horse and gave Collins group 25 pounds of flour for their return trip. 

According to a letter from Brigham Young to George Q. Cannon, dated August 6, 1862, Lot Smith’s company made it back in late July or early August, with some members of the group taking a detour in an attempt to catch some horse thieves.[9]

After Lot Smith’s company returned, Utah and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints experienced little involvement in the Civil War, but that is not to say they were not affected by the events taking place. Many Latter-day Saints had family in the East who were affected by the war. The war was also troublesome for members making the pilgrimage to Utah. Many Mormon companies crossing the Great Plains were stopped and asked to pledge allegiance to the Union, while ships carrying converts overseas were often stopped by Confederate ships.[10] Despite the Civil War happening, mainly in the East, both Union and Confederate newspapers throughout the country continued to publish stories about Utah, mainly about Mormonism and polygamy. Nationally, Mormonism continued to be a popular topic throughout the remainder of the 19th century.[11]

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Brigham Young, Correspondence to George Q. Cannon, August 6, 1862, Brigham Young Office Files, CR 1234 1, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Departure of the Company for the Protection of the Mail and Telegraph Lines,” Deseret News, May 7, 1862.

Lot Smith, Correspondence to Brigham Young, June 16, 1862, Brigham Young Office Files, CR 1234 1, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Lot Smith, Correspondence to Brigham Young, July 13, 1862, Brigham Young Office Files, CR 1234 1, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Secondary Sources:

Barnes, John. “The Struggle to Control the Past: Commemoration, Memory, and the Bear River Massacre of 1863.” The Public Historian no. 1 (February 2008), 200-211.

Boone, David F. “The Church and the Civil War.” In Nineteenth-Century Saints at War, edited by Robert C. Freeman, 113-139. Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2006.

Generous, Tom. “Over the River Jordan, California Volunteers in Utah During the Civil War.” California History 63, no. 3 (Summer 1984).

Hartley, William G. “Latter-day Saints Emigration During the Civil War.” In Civil War Saints, edited by Kenneth L. Alford, 237-265. Provo: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012.

Kenneth, Alford L., and Joseph R. Stuart. “The Lot Smith Cavalry Company: Utah Goes to War.” In Civil War Saints, edited by Kenneth L. Alford, 127-141. Provo: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012.

Kenneth, Alford L. “Utah and the Civil War Press.” In Civil War Saints, edited by Kenneth L. Alford, 267-283. Provo: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012.

Turley, Richard E. “The Mountain Meadows Massacre.” In Mormonism: An Historical Encyclopedia, edited by W. Paul Reeve and Ardis E. Parshall, 95-100.

[1] Kenneth L. Alford and Joseph R. Stuart, The Lot Smith Cavalry Company: Utah Goes to War,” in Civil War Saints, ed. Kenneth L. Alford (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012), 127–41.

[2] David F. Boone, “The Church and the Civil War.” In Nineteenth-Century Saints at War ed. Robert C. Freeman (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2006), 132.

[3] “Departure of the Company for the Protection of the Mail and Telegraph Lines,” Deseret News, May 07, 1862.

[4] Richard E. Turley, “The Mountain Meadows Massacre,” in W. Paul Reeve and Ardis E. Parshall, Mormonism: An Historical Encyclopedia (Santa Barbara: California: ABC-CLIO, 2010), 95-100.

[5] Lot Smith, Correspondence to Brigham Young, June 16, 1862, Brigham Young Office Files, CR 1234 1, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[6] Tom Generous, “Over the River Jordan: California Volunteers in Utah during the Civil War,” California History no. 3, (Summer 1984): 200-211. 

[7] John Barnes, “The Struggle to Control the Past: Commemoration, Memory, and the Bear River Massacre of 1863,” The Public Historian no. 1, (February 2008): 81-104.

[8] Lot Smith, Correspondence to Brigham Young, July 13, 1862, Brigham Young Office Files, CR 1234 1, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[9] Brigham Young, Correspondence to George Q. Cannon, August 6, 1862, Brigham Young Office Files, CR 1234 1, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[10] William G. Hartley, “Latter-day Saint Emigration During the Civil War,” in Civil War Saints, ed. Kenneth L. Alford (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012), 237-265.

[11] Kenneth L. Alford, “Utah and the Civil War Press,” in Civil War Saints, ed. Kenneth L. Alford (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012), 267–83.

First Public Building – Fremont, Wayne, UT

Published / by Parker Wood / Leave a Comment

Write up by: Parker Wood

Placed by: The Daughters of Utah Pioneers, No. 242. Erected in 1957.

GPS Coordinates: 38° 27.383′ N, 111° 37.319′ W

Pictured above is the plaque and the First Public Building in Fremont, Utah.

Historical Marker Text: In the year 1878 William Wilson Morrell and William Taylor erected this structure, the first public building in Wayne County. It was 20×30 feet, built of logs, and used by the people of Fremont community as a church, school house, and public meeting place. Years later it was moved to the site of the new school house on the public square and used only for church purposes. In 1894 the building was again moved to its present location. Plastered, painted, and covered with siding. It is the home of the Relief Society.

Extended Research:

As a child my grandmother took me and my siblings to Fremont’s First Public Building, since it was important to her that she show us the work they had done on the building. She grew up a block away and attended school, church activities and community events there. But to know the history of the First Public Building in Fremont, Utah, it is important to first understand the histories of the indigenous people who lived there, and the histories of settlers who later colonized land in the 1870s. There were different bands of the Paiutes in the area who were nomadic in nature. They lived in small family bands, hunting and gathering on the land. There are limited sources regarding these bands of Paiute, but historians know that they eventually moved on to other parts of the region as they were driven out by Mormon colonizers. In the cemetery where my grandparents are buried, right next to them there are five Native Americans buried. They have been marked within the last five years by a local mortuary to commemorate their lives.  As a child I was never told of the Indigenous people who had lived on the land before my ancestors colonized. It was as if they had just “disappeared.” While there are efforts being made today, the histories of these people may never be told.

Rabbit Valley was a very remote settlement area that encompassed different towns such as Loa, Thurber (now Bicknell), Torrey, Lyman, Fremont, and Teasdale. In most of the towns the Latter-day Saint colonizers established public buildings that served many purposes. Fremont was established in 1876 in the northern end of Rabbit Valley in a very remote part of the Utah Territory. Historian Miriam Murphy noted that Fremont is tucked right up next to the Fishlake Mountains. Rabbit Valley has a very high elevation of roughly 7,000 feet above sea level which is challenging as there is a very short season for crops and other farm goods. The bulk of people have cattle ranches or work for the forest service and other public entities.

Fremont is one of the towns in the county to have a public building. It is also rare that it has stayed intact for so many years, even after it moved in 1894. The foundations for the building itself was built by William Wilson Morrell and William Taylor. William Wilson Morrell is my 3rd great-grandfather and he was a skilled craftsman. As the Latter-day Saint colonizers were building towns he played an important part in the construction of many buildings. He had moved from Ohio to Utah in the 1850s as he had converted to the LDS church. In a nearby historic marker, No. 414 that was placed by the DUP, the first Saw Mill of Rabbit Valley (pictured below) is also remembered. It states that William Wilson Morrell brought a water powered saw mill with him from northern Utah when he moved to Wayne County in 1877. A year later he and William Taylor completed the First Public Building of Fremont. The building was a gathering place of those in the community for church activities, schooling, and other town meetings.[1] My grandmother also mentioned that she attended school in the building as a young girl. My father also remembers going to church activities in the building as child.

 The building served multiple purposes. It was a spiritual center where members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gathered to worship on Sundays. Many of those same citizens would gather during the week in the same building for public meetings. Children attended school there as well. While Morrell offered his skills in craftsmanship, Taylor owned the land where the building was first located.[2] As the town developed, the building was moved to the town center next to a newly built school so they could both serve as school houses. A new Rock Church was built in 1907 which then took a lot of the activities from the First Public Building. The citizens of the town wanted to make more of a town square which is the reason why they moved the First Public Building to its current location where it served for many years as the Relief Society building, the women’s organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[3]

The building itself is a very basic construction pattern with a traditional roof and rectangle shape for the foundation. The saw mill that Morrell brought with him from Northern Utah proved to be a very important resource which he used for building the First Public Building along with homes and other buildings in the area. Today the building is not used as much as it was in the past mostly due to its age and the preservation that is taking place.

For Further Reference

Murphy, Miriam B. A History of Wayne County. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society, 1999.

Snow, Anne. Rainbow Views: A History of Wayne County. Springville, UT: ART CITY Publishing Company. 1977.

The First Sawmill Historic Marker, No. 414, Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Fremont, Utah. 1981. Wood, Renon Jenson. Personal Journals regarding family history.

[1] Murphy, Miriam B. A History of Wayne County. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society, 1999, 98.

[2] Murphy, A History of Wayne County, 101.

[3] Snow, Anne. Rainbow Views: A History of Wayne County. Springville, UT: ART CITY Publishing Company. 1977, 145.

The Eagle Gate Monument

Published / by Brooklynn Jensen / 1 Comment on The Eagle Gate Monument

Write-up by Brooklynn Jensen

Photograph by Brooklynn Jensen, 2022.

Placed by: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, carved by Rolfe Ramsay in 1859. 

GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 40.769577 Longitude: -111.888311

Historical Marker Text/Transcript (1):

Eagle Gate 1859

Truman O. Angell       Architect

Hiram B. Clawson      Designer

Rolfe Ramsay O William Bell  Carver


J. Don Carlos Young  Architect


Geo. Cannon Young P.A.I.A Architect

George S. Nelson                    Engineer         

Grant R. Fairbanks                  Sculptor

            Erected in Co-Operation With

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

David O. McKay, President, & Utah State Department of Highways

 O. Taylor Burton, Director

Photograph by Brooklynn Jensen, 2022.

Historical Marker Text/Transcript (2):

“The Eagle Gate marked the entrance to the homestead of Brigham Young. During the Early Settlement of the valley, Brigham Young was allotted the land lying athwart the mouth of city creek canyon. His New England heritage prompted him to desire the privacy given by a high wall around the property as well as for the protection it afforded.

Erected in 1859, the gate has through the years become the symbol of the man who built it. The original eagle and the supporting beehive were carved from five laminated wooden blocks and rested upon curved wooden arches, having their anchor on the cobble-stone wall surrounding the estate. Large wooden gates closed the twenty-two foot opening at the night, securing behind them the Beehive House, the Lion House, and the private offices between them, the beautiful flower gardens, the private school, and the barns, sheds, granaries, silkworm cocooneries, orchards, and vegetable gardens.

In 1891 the gates were removed and the entrance widened into a street. At that time the eagle was sent east, electroplated with copper, and raised on new supports resting on cut stone pillars. In 1960, when the street was again widened, the wood under the copper plating had deteriorated, and the eagle could not be remounted.

This Bronze gateway, its eagle a scale enlargement of the original, has been erected as a tribute to the pioneers who founded this commonwealth.”

Extended Research:

Under the direction of Latter-day Saint President Brigham Young, the Eagle Gate was erected in 1859 in Salt Lake City. It was designed by Hiram B. Clawson and Truman O. Angell and carved by Ralph Ramsey. Originally, the eagle was made from wood, but later was reimagined and replaced with a sturdy bronze eagle in 1963. The original purpose of the Eagle Gate was to serve as a gate that kept out strangers and Native Americans from Brigham Young’s property and family.[1] It was accompanied by large wooden doors and quite literally was a gate, looking much different then than it does today.

“Eagle Gate” [4] This image shows a horse drawn wagon approaching the Eagle Gate.

The original build of the Eagle Gate was connected to 8 foot high cobblestone walls and were originally only wide enough to allow for horse-drawn carriages and wagons. With time, the Eagle Gate underwent renovations for the sake of its preservation. It has gone through at least four alterations since its original creation.[2] Notably in 1891, improvements had to be made to allow for the Eagle Gate landmark to remain in the midst of the growing city. The eagle got a new perch with the iconic four piers and it also received a copper plating. Further adjustments were made for street cars and automobiles.[3]

Eagle Gate, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1900.[5]

The Eagle Gate has been the center of discussions and debates since its erection, especially in the 20th century when Brigham Young and his posterity were not in a place of jurisdiction to answer questions or assume responsibilities. For example, an article from 1941 covers the debate over who the Eagle Gate belonged to. Did it belong to the LDS church or did it belong to the City?[6] One sure thing was that public opinion expressed that the Eagle Gate was and remains important and holds a great amount of significance for people, especially to Utahns who have roots to the pioneers who placed the monument. From 1936 before the monument underwent modifications, one woman said, “to change the gate would be to destroy the spirit of the monument.”[7]

Photograph by Brooklynn Jensen, 2022.

 The renovations made to Eagle Gate were sufficient until 1963, when the monument again had to be recreated to allow for a wider Main Street. This is when the eagle was fully replaced with its larger and bronze replica which is what we see atop the monument today. From 1859 at 22 feet in width to now 76 feet in width, the Eagle Gate has undergone changes and reformations in order to remain as an iconic landmark in downtown Salt Lake City.

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints dedicated the current Eagle Gate monument as a symbolic reminder of the pioneer past. President David O. McKay, leader of the Latter-day Saints at the time, dedicated the monument on November 1, 1963, with these words: “May the new Eagle, with outspread wings perched on its new beehive, the old wall in its new trench, and every part of the new steel structure receive Thy divine approval and future protection.”[8] Today, Latter-day Saints look at the monument with reverie and remembrance of their pioneer ancestors and with inspiration towards the future.

Photograph by Brooklynn Jensen, 2022.

The original Eagle resides with the Daughters of Utah Pioneers in their museum.

[1] Irene M. Chen, “Historic S.L. Eagle grows and adapts to changing times,” Deseret News, February 26, 1970,

[2] Marc. Haddock, “Historic Eagle Gate a prominent Salt Lake Landmark,” Deseret News, September 18, 2015,

[3]  “New Avenue Proposed to Save Eagle Gate,” Salt Lake Telegram, September 21, 1936.

[4] “Eagle Gate”

[5] William Henry Jackson. Eagle Gate, Salt Lake City, Utah. n.d. Images, Overall, Primary Support: 6 3/4 x 9 1/16 in. (17.2 x 23 cm); Image: 6 3/4 x 9 1/16 in. (17.2 x 23 cm). Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona;Gift of Terry Etherton.

[6] “Who owns the Eagle Gate Monument? City Asks in Decorating Case,” Salt Lake Telegram, July 15, 1941.

[7] “New Avenue Proposed to Save Eagle Gate,” Salt Lake Telegram, September 21, 1936.

[8] Marc. Haddock, “Historic Eagle Gate a prominent Salt Lake Landmark,” Deseret News, September 18, 2015,

For Further Reference:


“Brigham Young’s Burial,” n.d., 1.

“Eagle gate, Bransford Apartments, Eagle Gate Apartments and Louise Apartments,” November 11, 1914. 

University of Arizona; Gift of Terry Etherton.

“New Avenue Proposed to Save Eagle Gate,” Salt Lake Telegram, September 21, 1936.

“Who owns the Eagle Gate Monument? City Asks in Decorating Case,” Salt Lake Telegram, July 15, 1941.

William Henry Jackson. Eagle Gate, Salt Lake City, Utah. Images, n.d.

Irene M. Chen, “Historic S.L. Eagle grows and adapts to changing times,” Deseret News, February 26, 1970.

Marc. Haddock, “Historic Eagle Gate a prominent Salt Lake Landmark,” Deseret News, September 18, 2015.

“Eagle Gate has seen many changes,” Deseret News, January 9, 2002.

Eagle Gate,” This is the Place, Heritage Village.

Eagle Gate Monument,”

Suicide Rock and Reservoir Historical Marker

Published / by Sam Scott / 2 Comments on Suicide Rock and Reservoir Historical Marker

Suicide Rock and Reservoir Historical Marker

Write up by Samuel Scott

Placed by: Sons of Utah Pioneers Holladay Chapter, No. 79, dedicated 1996

Location of the Historical Marker near  Suicide Rock

Latitude 40°42’34.67″N

Longitude 111°47’49.57″W

Historical Marker Text:


“One of the foremost sights that met the eye of the early travelers when they reached the mouth of Parley’s Canyon before entering into the valley of the Great Salt Lake, was a huge mass of red rock which stood in the middle of the mouth of the canyon. It consisted mainly of red sandstone and had stood as a sentinel for centuries.

For hundreds of years, it stood as a watchtower for the Indians until, as the story goes, an Indian maiden upon learning of the death of her brave, leaped from the top, to her death on the rocks below, giving it the name of Suicide Rock. Now, it is a billboard for the youth who dare to climb its heights with a paint brush or spray can.

In the settlement of the valley with a constant increase in population, the water from the various canyon streams of the Wasatch Range provided irrigation as well as culinary water for the people. In order to free up more of the canyon water for culinary use, a canal was built from Jordan Narrows conveying Jordan River water to the east bench of the Salt Lake valley. The Jordan and Salt Lake City Canal was begun in 1879, and completed in 1882, and has remained in constant use since. The canyon streams were thereafter enhanced with reservoirs to catch and retain the spring runoff, for use in the drier seasons.

In about 1891 a reservoir was built on the east side of Suicide Rock to help contain the spring run-off from washing out the farms west of the canyon mouth, as well as to help provide a way of getting water from the stream to where it was needed. From this reservoir, and ditches from the canyon stream above the reservoir, culinary along with irrigation water was conveyed to the various farms below as well as up to the plateaus on the north and south sides of the hollow which were located above the canal. This reservoir served for many years until an extremely wet spring one year washed out part of the reservoir and some of the railroad tracks and roadway in the canyon. Culinary water supplies had been further enhanced by this time and a direct connection was made to use Parley’s Canyon water, so the reservoir was never replaced.

Of the stream, the roadway, and the railroad line that ran in the narrow spaces between the rock and canyon sidewalls, only the stream remains.”

Site No. 79                  Holladay Chapter, Sons of Utah Pioneers          Dedicated 1996

Suicide Rock on February 9, 2022.

Extended Research:

Suicide Rock is located at the mouth of Parleys Canyon, a canyon named after the Mormon pioneer Parley P. Pratt who had scouted the canyon in 1848.[1] The sandstone rock formation that is known today as Suicide Rock was also known as Sentinel Rock, because it is thought that it was used as a lookout point for American Indians long before the arrival of Mormon settlers. The name Suicide Rock became more popular after a story circulated about an American Indian maiden who threw herself off of the rock out of the grief of losing her brave lover. A similar story is told about “Squaw Peak” in Utah county of “one squaw killing herself falling from a precipice” following a military skirmish, and Suicide Rock in Idyllwild, California bears a legend of an American Indian princess and her lover committing suicide rather than being separated. The popularity of this trope over a wide variety of areas makes it unlikely to be factual, and it possibly emerged as a response to Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel Ramona, published in 1884, which popularized the tale. Various locations across the country picked up on the theme and used it in order to promote tourism.[2]

In 1892 Salt Lake City officials built a reservoir adjacent to the rock in order to supply culinary water from Parleys Creek to the valley. It was Utah’s first municipal culinary water storage reservoir.[3] The construction of the reservoir would have negative consequences for a community named Mountain Dell. The water provided by the reservoir during this time was unfiltered, which meant that contamination could easily lead to widespread illness. Since the community of Mountain Dell lived upstream from the reservoir they suddenly posed a threat of contaminating Salt Lake City’s drinking water with their animals and waste. This was confirmed in 1903 when a typhoid outbreak afflicted hundreds in Salt Lake City. The source of the epidemic was traced back to water from Parleys Creek, and a local farm situated upstream.[4] According to historian Cullen Battle, “In Mountain Dell, the city began buying up properties with animal lots and outhouses next to the creeks. The small landowners were the first to go, and the village quickly de-populated. Soon, the post office closed, and the school district and ward dissolved. By about 1907, most residents had given up their homes and farms, and Mountain Dell became—and remains today—an area devoted to watershed protection.” Nevertheless, the process of buying out and removing landowners on Mountain Dell lasted until 1920, and a case involving Seymour B. Young went as far as the Utah Supreme Court in 1915, ultimately ruling in favor of Salt Lake City officials.[5]

The reservoir eventually fell out of use after it experienced flooding, and advancements in technology along with the construction of Little Dell Reservoir led to its demise. Since then, Suicide Rock has become a popular recreation spot for young adults. Many of Utah’s high school and collegiate students continue the tradition of spray-painting, or “tagging,” the rock each year, rendering it into an ever-changing illustration of the times. In addition to this, one might also discover the not-so-well kept secret pastime of “shooting the tube” within walking distance of Suicide Rock. A rite of passage for some, anyone looking to cool off can temporarily dam up the entrance of a tunnel carrying Parley’s Creek water under the freeway. When the makeshift dam is pulled, the sudden rush of water propels thrill seekers through on a ride to the other side! A link to a video of the activity is included below. [6]

Utahns preparing to “shoot the tube.”[7]

Waterworks at mouth of Parleys Canyon, circa 1900. Salt Lake City built this reservoir seven miles downstream of Mountain Dell in the early 1890s to supply drinking water to city residents. C. R. Savage Photo.” [8]

Image shows Suicide Rock at the base of what was once Parley’s Canyon Reservoir.” [9]

Water flows over a remnant of the wall of the old Parley’s Canyon reservoir.” [10]

Aerial view of Parley’s Canyon Reservoir[11]

“Parley’s Creek – Suicide Rock, Flood Damage” Ca. 1910 [12]

Spray paint decorates the entirety of Suicide Rock

Photo by Joe Penacoli[13]

For Further Reference

Secondary Sources

Battle, Cullen, “Ghosts of Mountain Dell: Transportation and Technological Change in the Wasatch Mountains,” Utah Historical Quarterly 86, No. 1 (2018).

Farmer, Jared. On Zion’s Mount : Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008.

First Ascent of the Nose, Suicide Rock,”, (accessed April 8, 2022).

Pugh, Jeremy. “A Unique Utah Summer Tradition: ‘Shooting the Tube,’” Salt Lake Magazine, July 27, 2018.

Summit Signature: 27J Suicide Rock,” Hundred Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, accessed 03/29/2020.

Primary Sources

 “Parley’s Creek – Suicide Rock, Flood Damage,” University of Utah, J Willard Marriot Digital Library. Last modified May 6, 2021.

Korn, J. Roderic, “The Golden Pass Road,” Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 19 (1951).

Parley’s Canyon Reservoir P.13,” University of Utah, J. Willard Marriot Digital Library, Last modified May 6, 2021.

[1] J. Roderic Korn, “The Golden Pass Road,” Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 19 (1951), 229-236.

[2]Summit Signature: 27J Suicide Rock,” Hundred Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club, accessed 03/29/2020.

Jared Farmer, On Zion’s Mount : Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape, (Harvard University Press, 2008), 274-275.

[3] Cullen Battle, “Ghosts of Mountain Dell: Transportation and Technological Change in the Wasatch Mountains,” Utah Historical Quarterly, volume 86, no. 1 (2018).

[4] Cullen Battle, “Ghosts of Mountain Dell: Transportation and Technological Change in the Wasatch Mountains,” Utah Historical Quarterly, volume 86, no. 1 (2018)

[5] Cullen Battle, “Ghosts of Mountain Dell: Transportation and Technological Change in the Wasatch Mountains,” Utah Historical Quarterly, volume 86, no. 1 (2018)

[6]  Jeremy Pugh, “A Unique Utah Summer Tradition: ‘Shooting the Tube,’” Salt Lake Magazine, July 27, 2018.

[7] Jeremy Pugh, “A Unique Utah Summer Tradition: ‘Shooting the Tube,’” Salt Lake Magazine, July 27, 2018.

[8] Cullen Battle, “Ghosts of Mountain Dell: Transportation and Technological Change in the Wasatch Mountains,” Utah Historical Quarterly, volume 86, no. 1 (2018).

[9]Reservoir at Parley’s Canyon, Inspecting Conduit,” J. Willard Marriot Digital Library, The University of Utah, Last modified May 6, 2021.

[10]Parley’s Reservoir,” J. Willard Marriot Digital Library, The University of Utah, Last modified May 6, 2021.

[11]Parley’s Canyon Reservoir P.13,” J. Willard Marriot Digital Library, University of Utah, Last modified May 6, 2021.

[12]Parley’s Creek – Suicide Rock, Flood Damage,” J. Willard Marriot Digital Library, University of Utah, Last modified May 6, 2021.

[13]First Ascent of the Nose, Suicide Rock,”, (accessed April 8, 2022).

Liberty Park

Published / by Pablo Gonzalez / Leave a Comment

Write up by – Pablo Gonzalez 

Placed by: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, No. 130 

GPS Coordinates: 40.746445, -111.874916 

Historical Marker Text: 

Historical Marker Number 130

The original five acre plot, located in the Big Field Survey, was assigned to Isaac Chase, a pioneer of 1847. A spring of clear water made it a verdant spot. Later he purchased three other tracts and planted seeds of locust trees around his home and mill. 

In 1860, it became the property of Brigham Young who added varieties of Mulberry, Cottonwood, and other trees. In Pioneer Days, it was known as the Mill Farm, Forest Park, and Locust Patch. 

In 1881, Salt Lake City purchased the land from the Young Estate. On June 17, 1882, it was formally opened as a recreational area and officially named Liberty Park. 

Extended Research: 

Liberty Park is an 80-acre lot located in the heart of Salt Lake City. Today the park is a recreational area where many memories have been created with all of the activities that this place offers. People go to Liberty Park to be active, learn history, relax, and to simply hang out with friends and family. The park itself is a great historical marker because it has history dating back to 1847 and has seen major changes throughout time.  

This area originally belonged to Isaac Chase, who was among the second group of Latter-day Saints to arrive in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Isaac Chase who was a successful miller in New York state, started building a mill on this property and it was finished being built in 1852.1 In 1854 Brigham Young, being his son in law, also became Isaac Chase’s business partner. In 1859, Isaac Chase gave this land to Brigham Young in exchange for a cabin in Centerville. Before Brigham Young’s death in 1877, he stated that he wished that the land on which the mill stood would be sold to the city for the lowest possible price.2 

On April 20th, 1881 Salt Lake City bought 100 acres of land from Brigham Young’s estate for $27,500.3 This land that originally belonged to Isaac Chase still contained his grist mill. This mill is also currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also the only remaining mill in Salt Lake City that is still in its original location. When Salt Lake City bought this land, their primary intention was to create the farm area into a park for the city. This is because parks during this time “were seen as important factors in civilizing America’s increasingly industrialized cities and improving the moral character of their inhabitants.”4 This is the reason why the following year after the land was bought, they started improving the park under the control of a Swiss man named Arnold Schultes.5 In 1882, the land was officially opened as a recreational area and was formally named Liberty Park. 

Liberty Park

When the Park first opened up, it had a road that went right through the middle of the park dividing it in half.6 The city eventually closed that road to traffic. Liberty Park was viewed as a great addition to the city but it had some controversy over clean air. People believed that smelter smoke was damaging the park and the neighboring residential areas. In 1908, Salt Lake Mayor John Bransford said that smoke reduction was the city’s most urgent need.7 This project was a success and the air quality around Liberty Park got significantly better.

The first playground opened in Liberty Park by 1912, and it remained Salt Lake City’s largest park until Sugar House Park opened in the early 1950s.8 The park, and many of the features that are still present within it, were well established by 1920. The park was a popular attraction for Salt Lake City residents.

In 1911, Liberty Park opened up a zoo by adding monkeys and deer to the park and by 1916 they added their first elephant.10 The zoo stayed operational until 1931 when the zoo moved to what we know today as Hogle Zoo in Emigration Canyon.11 A 1931 report on parks and recreation centers describes the park this way: “Broad driveways bordered by colonnades of shade trees; lawns, flowers, lakes, playgrounds, tennis courts, concerts, and the municipal zoo have long been the outstanding attraction of this extensive park.”9

In the 1930s Tracy Aviary was added to the park when Russel Tracy donated a large collection of birds and equipment.12 This was a huge success since it brought a lot of attention to the park. By the 1980s, Liberty Park added new playgrounds, a carousel, and the road that split liberty park was no longer there. In fact, the road is how we know it today as having a one-way loop around the entire park.13 More recently, changes to Liberty Park include restrooms, a concession building, Wilson Pavilion, and several monuments. Activity areas recently constructed include: the Seven Canyons water feature, playgrounds, and bocce ball courts, lighting, fencing, signage, street furniture, mechanical boxes, and new sidewalks.14

 Today Liberty Park is still what it was intended to be when it first opened up in 1882. It is a large area meant for recreational activities. The park itself is a very spacious place where people can do a variety of activities like walking/running, swimming, play tennis, be on paddle boats, go to the children’s amusement park, playgrounds, picnic facilities, and they have plenty of room for recreation or relaxation.15 The park itself also hosts many events for the general public like a firework show during Pioneer Day.  

For Further Reference: 

Primary Sources: 

Liberty Park, Site Planning Workshop Report, Aviary & Concession Areas. Final report, June 2014.  

Bailey, Tom. Liberty Park, S.L.C. P.45. Print Photograph. Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah. 01/16/2009.  

Secondary Sources: 

Chase Barfuss, Brigham Young University. “Isaac Chase Mill.” Intermountain Histories. Accessed February 3, 2022.

“Liberty Park Has Been an Oasis in City since 1881.” Deseret News. Deseret News, October 18, 2010.  

“A Look Back: Liberty Park (and Its Kangaroos), 1935-51.” The Salt Lake Tribune, June 10, 2011. Accessed February 3, 2022.