Category Archives: Peaks

Ensign Peak Park

Published / by Grace Longoria / Leave a Comment

Grace Longoria

Place by: Mutual Improvement Association; Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association GPS Coordinates: 40° 47.664′ N, 111° 53.442′ W.

Historical Marker Text 1:

Indian hunters probably used Ensign Peak as a vantage point to scout for prey. Many camped near the Warm Springs west of here, at the base of the mountain. The Salt Lake Valley was a meeting place and campsite for several bands which were composed of Shoshoni- and Ure-speaking Indians. These Indian people traveled in small, extended-family groups to hunt, fish, and gather berries, insects, roots, and seeds. One Chief, Little Soldier, was born in the Red Butte foothills southeast of here; Wanship, another leading Chief, made his headquarters in the Salt Lake Valley.

Historical Marker Text 2:

In 1776 the first non-native explorers entered Utah. They were led by Franciscan Fathers, Francisco Antanazio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, who hoped to establish a new trail from New Mexico to their California missions. After visiting the Ute bands living near Utah Lake, the padres returned to New Mexico. They did not reach the Salt Lake Valley. Forty-five years later, traders and mountain men entered this region in search of animal pelts. They opened trails and charted rivers and mountain passes.  Among them were Jim Bridger, Miles Goodyear, Peter Skene Ogden, Erienne Provost, Jedediah Smith, Joseph R. Walker, and John H. Weber. John C. Frémont’s U.S. Army expeditions confirmed that the interior of the Intermountain West was a “Great Basin” with no outlet to the sea.

Historical Marker Text 3:

The first settlers in the Salt Lake Valley were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes called Mormons because of their belief in the Book of Mormon. They had suffered persecution in New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. After a mob killed their church founder, Joseph Smith, in 1844, most church members followed the leadership of Brigham Young and the Council of the Twelve Apostles. Beginning in February 1846, many Latter-day Saints moved from Nauvoo, Illinois, to a temporary camp in eastern Nebraska, which was called Winter Quarters. Young led an advanced party of 143 men, three women, and two children, which set out for the Rocky Mountains in April 1847. Traveling parallel to the Oregon Trail along the Platte and North Platte Rivers to Fort Laramie, they proceeded on the Oregon Trail to Fort Bridger, and from there, followed the route taken by the ill-fated Donner-Reed pioneers in 1846. Brigham Young, sick with mountain fever, was among the last of the party to enter the Salt Lake Valley where he arrived on July 24, 1847. Many pioneer companies reached the valley over the next few years. Before the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869, some eighty thousand emigrants traveled to Utah using various conveyances, including ox teams and handcarts.

Historical Marker Text 4:

From Ensign Peak the pioneer leaders laid plans for Salt Lake City. They envisioned a prospering community of wide streets, farms, homes, schools, shops, churches, and a temple. George A. Smith reported chatting before leaving Nauvoo, Illinois, for the Mormon trek west; Brigham Young.” had a vision of Joseph Smith who showed him the mountain that we now call Ensign Peak and there was an ensign that fell upon that peak. Joseph said Build under the point where the colors fall, and you will prosper and have peace. Upon viewing the valley and Ensign Peak, Brigham Young declared, “This is the Place.” The peak became sacred to many as a place for meditation, Prior to completion of the temple, religious ordinances were performed on the peak by the pioneer settlers. Ensign Peak became a symbol of fathering; from the time the first American Indians lived in this area to the present, this valley has drawn people from all corners of the world.

Historical Marker Text 5:

A great variety of plants, ground animals, insects, and birds inhabit the slopes and valleys around Ensign Peak. Native plants include the sego lily, a spring flower that grows from a bulb. On the advice of local Indians, the pioneers dug the sego lily bulb for food. Many flowers add color to the park from early spring, through summer and fall. Even on a winter hike, birds and animals may be seen. Oak brush offers limited shade on the mountainside. Deer roam the hills. Squirrels and burrowing animals are also evident. Many birds nest and feed around the peak period along the trail and nature paths are signs that identify the native fauna and flora.

Historical Marker Text 6:

When you hike the Ensign Peak Train, you will pass several information points or stations. Vista Mound station, which lies to your left, offers an excellent view of the Salt Lake Valley. Other stations along the trail tell about the Peak’s geology, the natural history of the valley, the Great Salt Lake, and the plants and animals that are native to this area. Above the meadow, near the trail, is an amphitheater that groups may use. If you hike to the summit, you will find additional information about the history of Ensign Peak. The hillside is seeded with native grasses and flowers. Please protect these tender plants by using the designated trails. Practice safety measures as you hike and please do not leave any litter. Drinking water and restrooms are not available along the trail. The hike from here to the summit of Ensign Peak is .47 miles. The elevation increases 398 feet.

Historical Marker Text 7:

Dedicated July 26, 1996


President Gordon B. Hinckley

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

This park is the result of a public-private partnership between

Salt Lake City and Ensign Peak Foundation.

Salt Lake City

Mayor Deedee Corradini

Salt Lake City Council, and the Department of Public Services

Ensign Peak Foundation

J Malan Heslop, Michael L. Hutchings, Glen A. Lloyd, Earl Maw

Glen Saxton, Ronald W. Walker, and Kim R. Wilson, trustees.

Paul A. Hanks, Michael Glauser, and Rhees Ririe, advisors.

About the Plaza

The plaza reminds visitors of the history of Ensign Peak. It is built

with concrete aggregate similar to that used during pioneer times and

blends with the natural stone found in the area. In memory of the

nine men who hiked to the summit on July 26, 1847, nine stone seats

and nine trees encircle the plaza. The paving stones on the floor

sketch a map of the world. By standing on the approximate location

of Salt Lake City and looking through the cleft in the wall, 

the summit of Ensign Peak can be seen. The plaza is situated a symbolic

47 feet from the street, a reminder of the year, 1847.

From the summit of the peak, Brigham Young and other pioneer

leaders viewed the valley and named the peak “Ensign” after Isaiah’s

words, “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations.” (Isaiah 11:12)

Three flagpoles at the plaza provide ample opportunity to hoist our

national ensign, as well as other flags.

Historical Marker Text 8: 

This is a plaque that shows what monuments and landmarks you can see from the top of the peak.

Extra photos:

This photo is of Ensign Peak before the park was placed at the foot. 

Extended Research:

At the base of Ensign Peak is Ensign Peak Park. This park serves as a home to different flora and fauna, a place to sit at the base of the hiking trail, and a gorgeous gathering spot to admire the beauty of Ensign Peak. There are many different flowers that grow in the park, and that includes the state flower, the sego lily. This flower is important to the history of Utah because it is the flower that the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ate when they ran out of food in the winter. The Native Americans in the area showed them that the bulb of the flower was good to eat. This prevented the members of the Church from facing starvation. This flower became a prominent feature on many LDS buildings and once the park was built, it was added there too. There are other different types of flowers and bushes that can be found at the base, and these bushes are home to birds such as quail. They like to build their nests there for safety and security from predators. There are also squirrels and even deer that like to roam the area. 

The first group of non-Native American people to come in and settle Utah and the Salt Lake Valley, was the LDS Church. They had made peace with the Native Americans in the area, but this was not until many decades after their arrival.  While they only came in to escape religious persecution, they caused havoc among the Native Americans and even massacred whole sections of tribes to cleanse the land. They committed atrocious crimes against the Native Americans in the area.  Ensign Peak is the place Brigham Young, who became the President of the LDS Church, claimed to have seen previously in a vision.It was his signal that “this is the place” to establish a new community. This place also served as a temple for the LDS Church at one point. A man by the name of Addison Pratt had been serving a mission when the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints were forced out of Nauvoo due to religious persecution. When he came back to the states in 1849, the leaders wanted him to receive his temple rituals. There was no temple in the Salt Lake Valley at this time due to the fact that the members of the LDS Church had just arrived in the valley two years ago. The leaders decided that Ensign Peak was the best place to offer Pratt these rituals. There is no clear distiction on who first came up with the idea, but we do know tht Pratt, Young, and six of the twelve members of the Quorum of the Apostles were all there. They already considered Ensign Peak holy ground, so there was the best scenario. Pratt was ordained and given his temple rituals on the peak, and the site gained even more significance to the members of the LDS Church.

In 1908, there was a plan that was proposed to Salt Lake City government to create a park at the base of Ensign Peak and it was referred to as Ensign Peak Park. The actual peak had a lot of significance to the members of the LDS faith, and there was a desire for something more to show the significance of the peak. The plan to put in a nature park, which would allow for new flora and fauna to beautify the base and make the hike to the peak a pleasurable experience. There was also the idea that there could be a profit gained from these modifications by charging for entrance to the park and access to the peak. There were many voices that agreed with this idea including the Salt Lake Herald and Sen. Reed Smoot. It was an extremely innovative idea, but unfortunately the city did not get around to completing the plan until a few decades later in 1996.

In the twenty-first century, Ensign Peak Park commemorates a significant part of Utah’s history. It is a reminder of all the wonderful things of Utah such as the beauty of the state. It is also a reminder of the struggles and hardships that the members of LDS Church went through to escape persecution. The park is a gorgeous place to go and immerse yourself in the history of Salt Lake Valley and enjoy the natural beauty of the state.  

For Further Reference:

Primary Source

Ensign Peak P.1: Classified Photographs. J. Willard Marriott Digital Library. Utah State Historical Society. Accessed April 7, 2022.  

 Ronald Walker, Utah Historical Quarterly 1994 – Vol LXII – No 1 – a Gauge of the Times: Historic and Prehistoric Publications. J. Willard Marriott Digital Library. J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, 1994. 

Secondary Source

Brian Cannon, The Sego Lily, Utah’s State Flower. issuu. Utah Historical Quarterly, Utah State History, November 1, 1995.

Dennis Wright and Rebekah Westrup. Ensign Peak: Religious Studies Center. Ensign Peak | Religious Studies Center. Accessed February 5, 2022.

Jack Duffy, Ensign Peak Historical Marker. Historical Marker, May 27, 2020.

 Lee Davidson, How One Utah Hill Became a Mormon Temple — for a Day. The Salt Lake Tribune, March 31, 2015.

Range Plants of Utah. Sego Lily. Utah State University, 2017.,as%20the%20Utah%20State%20Flower

Ronald Walker, Utah Historical Quarterly 1994 – Vol LXII – No 1 – a Gauge of the Times: Historic and Prehistoric Publications. J. Willard Marriott Digital Library. J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, 1994. 

Donner Hill

Published / by William Root / Leave a Comment

Placed by: LDS 38th North Ward Priests[1]

GPS Coordinates: 40° 45’5.76″N, 111° 48’3.28″W

Historical Marker Text:
Lured by Lansford Hasting’s assurance that his shortcut from the well-known trail to Oregon and California would save 250 miles and weeks of travel, the ill-fated Donner-Reed party reached this place August 23, 1846, after spending 16 days to hack out a 36-mile road through the Wasatch Mountains. Here at this narrow mouth of the canyon, they were stopped by what seemed impenetrable brush and boulders. Bone-weary of that kind of labor, they decided instead to goad the oxen to climb the hill in front of you. Twelve-year-old Virginia Reed, later recalled that nearly every yoke of oxen was required to pull each of the party’s twenty-three wagons up the hill. After this ordeal, the oxen needed rest, but there was no time. The party pushed on to the Salt Flats, where many of the oxen gave out. This caused delays, which led to disaster in the Sierra Mountains.

A year later, July 22, 1847, Brigham Young’s Pioneer Party, following the Donners and benefitting from their labor, reached this spot. William Clayton recorded their decision: “We found the road crossing the creek again to the south and then ascending a very steep, high hill. It is so very steep as to be almost impossible for heavy wagons to ascend…Colonel Markham and another man went over the hill and returned up the canyon to see if a road cannot be cut through and avoid this hill. Brother Markham says a good road can soon be made through the bushes some ten or fifteen rods. A number of men went to work immediately to make the road…After spending about four hours of labor the brethren succeeded in cutting a pretty good road along the creek and the wagons proceeded on.”

Donner Hill looking east towards Emigration Canyon

Among the lesson learned that day was one stated succinctly by Virginia Reed in a letter to prospective emigrants back home: “Hurry along as fast as you can, and never take no shortcuts.”

Extended Research:

In 1846 a wagon party led by George Donner departed Independence, Missouri and began a perilous journey from the United States towards Alta California in Mexico. The wagons were late in reaching the Sierra Nevada mountain range and disaster awaited the 88 members of the Donner Party. Extreme suffering and starvation followed, with 41 members of the group dying and eventually the incident drew national attention over reports that some members of the ill-fated party resorted to cannibalism in order to survive.[2] The Donner Party originally planned to travel to California via Oregon, but real estate speculator Lansford Hastings promoted an alternate route published in his famous Emigrants Guide to Oregon and California in 1845, and the Donner Party opted to try it.³

Hastings was not certain if he should promote the cutoff from Fort Bridger through the Salt Lake Valley and westward following John C. Fremont’s expedition in 1845, but he received support in favor of the cutoff from Fremont and Jim Bridger. Hastings thus advised the Donner-Reed party that they would save some 350-400 miles if they took his “cutoff.” One of his partners, James Clyman, however became convinced that the route was not suited for wagons and therefore tried to dissuade members of Donner-Reed Party from taking the cutoff. Joseph R. Walker, who successfully guided the first wagons over the California Trail by way of Fort Hall, also thought the route an unproven risk.[3]

Other migrant groups, which included the Bryant-Russell Party and Harlan-Young wagons, left Fort Bridger in mid-July 1848, following the Bear River into East Canyon where they passed through Devil’s Gate with difficulty along the Weber River. Hastings subsequently directed a group of German migrants from the Heinrich Lienhard party on a direct route through Echo Canyon into Devil’s Gate, where they caught up with the Harlan-Young party near the Jordan River. The Donner Party departed Fort Bridger two weeks later on July 31 and Hastings talked them out of going via Weber Canyon and Devil’s Gate, instead telling them to blaze a new path over to what would come to be called Emigration Canyon. On August 7, 1846, James Reed began carving a trail for the wagon train, chopping down bushes and trees in the Wasatch Mountains towards the canyon. Reed was joined by the remaining members of the wagon party who continued to hack and dig their way for 35 miles from present-day Henefer, Summit County, to Salt Lake City.²

Emigration Creek along Donner Hill

The Bryant-Russell, Harlan-Young and Lienhard parties would successfully pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountains into California, while the time the Donner Party spent trailblazing in Utah foreshadowed later events. After the three week trek through the Wasatch Mountains, the oxen were already exhausted and their supplies began to run low.

After entering the Salt Lake Valley, the first member of the party died of tuberculosis near the Great Salt Lake. A site near Grantsville, Utah provided temporary relief with underground water springs, their last source of water until reaching the Humboldt River. In the Salt Flats, Reed’s thirsty oxen ran off and were never seen again. Upon reaching Iron Hill, a fight broke out between one of Reed’s teamsters and John Snyder, a driver for the Graves wagon. Reed stabbed Snyder in the chest and was banished by the Donners after Snyder died. Reed thus avoided being pinned down by the early winter storms which trapped the rest of the party. His departure in October towards Sutter’s Fort allowed him to organize a rescue party in Sacramento that arrived in February 1847. Along the Humboldt River a band of Paiute Indians killed 21 of the Donner Party’s oxen and stole another 18, with more than 100 of the party’s cattle now gone. Two Indian guides assisted the Donner Party in reaching the summit of the Sierra Nevada, but turned back with the first sign of snowfall in early November.1

Donner-Reed Party burial remains discovered in the Salt Lake Desert

The delayed timing and trek through the west desert led to the party becoming snowbound in the Sierras. Malnutrition was a common cause of death, and Irish immigrant Patrick Breen wrote in his journal on Christmas Eve that he was living in a “Camp of Death”. 1 Some of the members of the party camped along the banks of Alder Creek and frozen Truckee Lake, now Donner Lake, where most of the cannibalism occurred. The first rescuers arrived at Truckee Lake in February 1847, composed of soldiers from the U.S. Army stationed in California during the U.S.-Mexican War, among them were members of the Mormon Battalion. One week after rescuers arrived, other isolated camp sites were still using the corpses of the dead for food. Breen wrote in his diary on February 26:

Martha’s jaw swelled with the toothache: hungry times in camp; plenty hides, but the folks will not eat them. We eat them with a tolerable good apetite. Thanks be to Almighty God. Amen. Mrs Murphy said here yesterday that [she] thought she would Commence on Milt. & eat him. I don’t [think] that she has done so yet; it is distressing. The Donners, 4 days ago, told the California folks that they[would] commence to eat the dead people if they did not succeed, that day or next, in finding their cattle.1

Patrick Breen’s diary entry describing the routine cannibalism in the encampment

Three additional relief efforts occurred in April in an attempt to find members who had become separated while camping along Truckee Lake. In the last effort they found only one survivor, Louis Keesberg, who was surrounded by half-eaten corpses. As the survivors departed with the rescuers, members of the Mormon Battalion were ordered to bury the dead bodies inside the main cabin on what is today Donner Pass and then set fire to the cabin.[4]

The Donner Party, in essence, blazed the trail into the Salt Lake Valley which Brigham Young and the Mormon Pioneers used the following year. Young left Winter Quarters, Nebraska with his encampment and passed through the mouth of Echo Canyon by mid-July 1847; he then picked up the Donner-Reed trail and followed it into the Salt Lake Valley. Instead of three weeks, it took Young’s party one week, a matter of great importance since it enabled the Mormons to plant wheat and potato crops in time for their first harvest in the fall. In the last quarter-mile, rather than hauling their wagons over Donner Hill, the Mormons decided to hack through the brush and go around Donner Hill. The Mormons emerged four hours later at what is now This is the Place State Park.[5]

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Breen, Patrick. Diary of Patrick Breen of the Donner Party, 1846-7. Berkeley: University  of         California Bancroft Library, 1910.

Secondary Sources:

Campbell, Eugene. “The Mormons and the Donner Party.” BYU Studies Quarterly, Vol. 11 no. 3 (1971).

Miller, David. “The Donner Road through the Great Salt Lake Desert.” Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 27, no. 1 (February 1958): 39-44

[1] Originally installed by “Mormon Explorers” Y.M.M.I.A. In 2010, the original plaque was stolen and re-erected in 2016 by the LDS 38th North Ward High Priests

[2] Campbell, “The Mormons and the Donner Party.”

[3] Miller, “The Donner Road through the Great Salt Lake Desert,” 39-44

1 Breen, 18

1 Breen, 28

[5] Campbell, “The Mormons and the Donner Party.”

Ensign Peak

Published / by Jake Bardsley / Leave a Comment

Ensign Peak

Write-up by Jake Bardsley

Placed by: Pioneer Trails and Assoc.

GPS Coordinates: 40.7944° N, 111.8905° W






Historical Marker Text (1): 

Plaque A: (on S. side of monument, replica of original PTLA 43) ENSIGN PEAK July 26, 1847, two days after the Mormon Pioneers entered this valley Brigham Young and party climbed to this point and with the aid of field glasses made a careful survey of the mountains, canyons and streams. In the group were Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, Ezra T. Benson, Willard Richards, Albert Carrington and William Clayton. Wilford Woodruff, first to ascend the Peak, suggested it as a fitting place to “set up an ensign” (Isaiah 11:12). It was then named Ensign Peak, subsequently the stars and stripes were raised here.

Historical Marker Text (2): 

Plaque B: Free-standing concrete slab, NE of monument 1.5’W 2.5’H 8″D (drawing of flag raising) THE SUMMIT Before he left Nauvoo, Brigham Young said that Joseph Smith, the deceased prophet, had appeared to him in a vision and shown him a place where the banner of liberty should wave. When he viewed this peak as he entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, Brigham reportedly said, “This is the place,” adding “I want to go there.” Two days later, still weak from fever, he insisted on climbing the summit. Eight others made the hike with him where they spent several hours in prayer and counsel. They gazed over the valley and made plans for a new city. They wanted their new home to become the “ensign for the nations” of which Isaiah had prophesied in the Bible, hence the name Ensign Peak. No ensign, or flag, was flown on that occasion, but perhaps a yellow bandanna, tied to a cane, was raised as a symbolic gesture. Within a few weeks, an American flag was hoisted on the summit. Elevation 5,416 feet the elevation of Ensign Peak is 5,416 feet. This is 1,085 feet above the southeast corner of the temple block where the Salt Lake Baseline and Meridian were established on August 2, 1847 while Orson Pratt was laying out the city. At that point, the city was 4,331 feet above sea level.

Historical Marker Text (3): 

Plaque C: Free-standing concrete, E of monument 1.5’W 2.5’H 8″D (just to S. of B) FLAGS ON ENSIGN PEAK (Drawing of flag flying on peak, smaller drawings of American Flag, Joel Hills Johnson, Utah State flag, Ebenezer Beesley) Ensign Peak has been a place for much flag-flying. Shortly after the coming of the Mormons in 1847, an American flag was flown from the summit. Early settlers have also flown their special “flag of the kingdom” here. This “kingdom flag” was never formalized into an exact pattern, but likely had twelve blue and white stripes and one or more blue stars. It was likely flown from Ensign Peak as part of the first Pioneer Days Celebration in 1849. In 1897, the Salt Lake Herald, a local newspaper, erected the first flag pole on Ensign Peak, and the summit was designated by Utah leaders as an official place to display the American and State flags. Fifty years later, volunteers carried a seven-hundred-pound pole to the top of Ensign Peak where it was erected. The pole was later damaged by vehicles and removed to the Council Hall near the State Capitol.

Historical Marker Text (4): 

Plaque D: Free-standing concrete 3’W 3’H 6″D (Drawing of Salt Lake Valley) THE VIEW Ensign Peak provided Brigham Young’s 1847 exploring party with a good view of the Salt Lake Valley. Cradled between the Oquirrh Mountains to the west and the Wasatch Range to the east, the valley was covered with tall grass, sagebrush, and desert flowers but few trees. A river, which they later named the Jordan, ran the length of the valley and emptied into the Great Salt Lake. They observed a number of mountain streams flowing into the river. Below where they stood, efforts were underway to cultivate the land. From this vantage point the group began to lay plans for the city. Beyond the State Capitol Building lies State Street, stretching long and straight until it disappears from view in the distance. The Salt Lake Temple, now practically surrounded by tall buildings, once dominated the landscape. The small communities that formerly dotted the valley have grown to the point that it is often hard to tell where one ends and another begins.

Small Plaque below: 

Construction of this plaza and restoration of the monument have been made possible by the generous contribution of the family of David Aurelius Robinson (1905-1986). HIGH ON THE MOUNTAIN TOP Ensign Peak inspired pioneer poet Joel Hills Johnson, to write the verses of the popular hymne “High on the Mountain Top.” A fitting tune was written by Ebenezer Beesley. The peak has been the subject of many other poems and stories.” “Markers and Monuments Database.”

Extended Research:

In 1869, Mormon Apostle George A. Smith reported that Joseph Smith, the deceased founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), appeared to Brigham Young in vision sometime after Smith’s death and Smith showed Young a peak where the Saints should settle.  On July 24, 1847, when Young entered the Salt Lake Valley for the first time he reportedly recognized Ensign Peak as the place he had seen in a vision.[1]

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries Ensign Peak was utilized in many ways. In 1847 the “Peak” symbolically and literally represented a gathering place for the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to historian Ronald Walker, Young proposed several flags to represent “the gathering” and to create an identity for the occupants of Salt Lake City. Some suggested that the most fitting flag should be an American flag to fly on Ensign Peak, despite tensions between the Federal Government and the Mormon settlers. Mormons felt alienated but still maintained an American ideology.[2]

Apart from flying flags, members of the LDS church received and performed temple endowments on the peak while the Salt Lake City Temple was under construction. The temple endowment is a ceremony where members make covenants with God in order to receive promised blessings in return. Addison Pratt prior to his LDS mission received his endowment on July 21, 1849 on Ensign Peak.[2] During the Utah War (1857-1858) members of the Utah militia used the peak as a lookout spot for federal troops. Militiamen used smoke to signal during the day, and fire light to signal at night.[3]

In the 20th Century several people proposed different uses for the peak. Lon J. Haddock, a member of the Salt Lake City Manufacturers and Merchants Association ,with the support of Senator Reed Smoot, promoted the peak as a park.[4] Smoot and Haddock, however, did not gain enough support for their idea and it did not bear fruit. In the early 1900s, automobile dealers drove their cars to the top of the peak as an advertising opportunity. In 1910 the first automobile reached the top and other drivers followed, generally as publicity stunts.[5] In 1916, LDS Presiding Bishop, Charles W. Nibley proposed that a stone cross be built on Ensign Peak. Nibley suggested that the cross would represent the sacrifices of early Mormon pioneers, and also signal to the world that Mormons were in fact Christians.[6] Nibley’s proposal created controversy and the community ultimately rejected it. A year later advocates proposed a monument in honor of the Mormon Battalion (a military unit in the US war with Mexico comprised of around five hundred Mormons), but it also did not gain support.

In the fall of 1924 the Klu Klux Klan held a demonstration and used the peak for its own purposes. The 1920s marked a resurgence of the Klu Klux Klan nationwide. In Utah the Klan held a demonstration on the same day as LDS General Conference–a meeting for Mormons from around the world to gather and listen to their leaders. During the conference proceedings, the Klan burned a large cross at the top of the peak in a show of force for the KKK in Utah.[7]

The monument that sits atop Ensign Peak today was built on July 26, 1934. Standing at eighteen feet high, the Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association are responsible for its construction. Speakers and leaders of all faiths participated in the celebration.[8] In 1996, Ensign Peak was renovated and the construction of a permanent park began. [9]

[1] George A. Smith, “Historical Discourse,” 20 June 1869, Journal of Discourses (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854–1886), 13:85.

[2] Ronald W. Walker, “A Banner Is Unfurled,” Dialogue 26, no. 4(1993): 71-91:

[2] William S. Harwell and Fred C. Collier, eds., Manuscript History of Brigham Young (Salt Lake City: Collier’s Publishing Company, 1997), 224–25.

[3] B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1912), 4:507.

[4] Ensign Peak,” Deseret Evening News, August 8, 1908, 4.

[5] “Velie Automobile Climbs Ensign Peak,” Salt Lake Tribune, March 10, 1910, 4.

[6] To Erect Cross on Ensign Peak,” Deseret Evening News, May 5, 1916; “Ensign Peak Cross! Never! Cries Lund in Protest,” Salt Lake Telegram, May 7, 1916.

[7] Larry R. Gerlach, Blazing Crosses in Zion: The Ku Klux Klan in Utah (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1982) ,105–110.

[8] Ensign Peak Monument to Be Unveiled,” Deseret News, July 24, 1934, 9.

[9] R. Scott Lloyd, “Park at Ensign Peak Dedicated,” Deseret News, August 3, 1996, 3, 13.

Primary Sources

George A. Smith, “Historical Discourse,” 20 June 1869, Journal of Discourses (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854–1886), 13:85.

Ensign Peak,” Deseret Evening News, August 8, 1908, 4.

Velie Automobile Climbs Ensign Peak,” Salt Lake Tribune, March 10, 1910, 4.

To Erect Cross on Ensign Peak,” Deseret Evening News, May 5, 1916

Ensign Peak Monument to Be Unveiled,” Deseret News, July 24, 1934, 9.

Scott Lloyd,Park at Ensign Peak Dedicated,” Deseret News, August 3, 1996, 3, 13.

Secondary Sources

William S. Harwell and Fred C. Collier, eds., Manuscript History of Brigham Young (Salt Lake City: Collier’s Publishing Company, 1997).

Brigham H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1912), 4:507.

Larry R. Gerlach, Blazing Crosses in Zion: The Ku Klux Klan in Utah (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1982).

Ronald W. Walker, “A Banner Is Unfurled,” Dialogue 26, no. 4(1993): 71-91:

Ronald W. Walker, “A Gauge of the Times: Ensign Peak in the Twentieth Century,” Utah Historical Quarterly 62, no. 1 (1994): 4–25.

Dennis A. Wright and Rebekah E. Westrup, “Ensign Peak: A Historical Review,” in Salt Lake City: The Place Which God Prepared, ed. Scott C. Esplin and Kenneth L. Alford (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, 2011), 27–46.