Category Archives: Pioneer Settlement

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).

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.

First Encampment Park

Published / by Jesse Hassard / Leave a Comment

Write up by Jesse T. Hassard

Placed by: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers

GPS coordinates Latitude: 40° 43’ 59.45” N, 111° 52’ 38.58” W

Historical Marker text 1

“First Encampment in the Salt Lake Valley. Daughters of Utah Pioneers. On July 22, 1847, the main body of the Mormon Pioneer Company, along with a few of the Mormon Battalion sick detachment and some of the Mississippi saints, camped near this location. After leaving Emigration Canyon, the group traveled in a southwesterly direction along the south side of Emigration Creek. Near where Emigration and Parley’s Creeks come close together, they camped. Thomas Bullock, the company clerk, recorded in his journal, ‘We descended a gentle sloping table land to a lower level where the Soil and grass improved in appearance… The Wheat Grass grows 6 or 7 feet high, many different kinds of grass appear some being 10 or 20 feet high – after wading through thick grass for some distance, we found a place bare enough for a Camping ground, the grass being only knee deep, but very thick; we camped on the banks of a beautiful little stream [Parley’s Creek] which was surrounded by very tall grass…’ Orson Pratt and his exploring expedition, who entered the valley earlier that morning, joined the camp in the evening. A council was held and the decision was made to move the next day to a site they had chosen to plant crops, on City Creek two miles to the north. Brigham Young, whose small party was delayed because of illness, did not enter the valley until July 24, going directly to the camp on City Creek. When surveyed, the area of the first encampment became part of the ‘Big Field’ farming plat. Among those with farms here was Wilford Woodruff, whose two houses still stand a half block north of this site. Beginning in the 1890s, the area was platted and subdivided for residential development. Parley’s Creek still flows through the neighborhood in an underground conduit. 1997. No. 509. Salt Lake Liberty Park Company.”

(First plaque)

Historical marker text 2

A mounted plaque on the east monument says: “Others Who Came. When the main body of the Pioneer Company camped here July 22, 1847, other members of the Company were in various locations. A group of pioneers and two Mormon Battalion men (James Oakley and George S. Clark) were delayed by Colorado tick fever and entered the valley two days later, July 24. It included: Brigham Young, Ezra T. Benson, Robert E. Baird, George P. Billings, James Case, Thomas P. Cloward, Hosea Cushing, Isaac P. Decker (child), Benjamin F. Dewey, Howard Egan, Addison Everett, Andrew S. Gibbons, Stephen H. Goddard, Artemas Johnson, Heber C. Kimball, Ellen Sanders Kimball, William A. King, Carlos Murray, Eli H. Pierce, Albert P. Rockwood, Henry G. Sherwood, William C. A. Smoot, Briant Stringham, Thomas Tanner, Horace K. Whitney, Orson K. Whitney, Wilford Woodruff, Clarissa Decker Young, Harriet Page Wheeler Young, Lorenzo S. Young (child) and Lorenzo D. Young. Four men had been sent to guide the valley members of the Mormon Battalion Sick Detachment and a group of Mississippi Mormons who had wintered at Fort Pueblo, Colorado. Amasa M. Lyman and Roswell Stevens of the Pioneer Company. John H. Tippets and Thomas Wolsey of the Mormon Battalion. Five men had been sent back along the trail to guide the large Mormon companies following, the first of which reached Salt Lake Valley, September 22, 1847. Rodney Badger, Aaron F. Farr, Eric Glines, George Woodward and Phinehas H. Young. Nine men had been left to build and operate a ferry on the Platte River at today’s Casper, Wyoming, to aid future companies and earn revenue from other travelers. James Davenport, Edmund Ellsworth, William Empey, Thomas Grover, Appleton M. Harmon, John Higbee, Luke Johnson Frances, M. Pomeroy and Franklin B. Stewart. Honor also to the families left behind at Winter Quarters and elsewhere; to 70,000 other Mormons who came in the next 22 years; and to 6,000 whose journey ended in death somewhere along the trail.”

Historical marker text 3

A mounted plaque on the south monument says: “How the Park Came to Be. This park grew from what began as a Federal Heights Ward sesquicentennial project – a simple monument to mark the first Mormon campsite in Great Salt Lake Valley. The vision expanded, and the park became a joint project of the Emigration and Wells Stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, bringing to reality a dream of the neighborhood and the historical community. Engraved on stones throughout the park are names of the 109 men, 3 women, and 8 children thought to have slept here that first night in the valley, July 22, 1847. The park design represents the landscape they encountered. Granite boulders mounded in the eastern part represent the Wasatch Mountains. The path through the mountain rocks represents Emigration Canyon, down which the Pioneers came. The dry streambeds represent Emigration and Parley’s Creeks. Primary children of the two stakes embedded pebbles in the fresh concrete of the streambeds. In addition to thousands of hours of volunteer labor by both stakes, the park was made possible by American Oil Company’s generosity in the donating the land and by liberal financial support, primarily by members of Emigration Stake. Contributing firms and organizations included Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Kelby Electric Company, Oakland Construction Company, Clean Cut Landscaping, United Fence Company, Lehi Block Company, Howe Rental, and others. Landscape Architect Stuart Loosli created the design and, with Mark Finlinson, managed construction. William B. Smart was general chairman. Dedicated by Elder M. Russell Ballard, July 22, 1997, exactly 150 years after the arrival of the pioneers here. Presented as a city park to the people of Salt Lake City and to all who honor our pioneer heritage.”

Extended research

Mormons were violently persecuted and pushed from Ohio to Missouri, from Missouri to Illinois and from Illinois, they were pushed west outside the bounds of the United States to northern Mexico. After Joseph Smith, the founder of the faith, was murdered in Illinois, Brigham Young, the faith’s new leader decided to move his people into unclaimed lands in northern Mexico. In 1846, members of the LDS church then began their long journey across the United States and into the Rocky Mountains. After spending the winter in present-day Nebraska, Brigham Young led a vanguard group into the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847. During the long journey, however, the Mormon wagon train was broken up into two different groups. The group that would continue into the Salt Lake Valley totaled 42 men and 23 wagons. They would be the first Latter-day Saints to reach the Salt Lake Valley, two days ahead of  Brigham Young who stayed behind because of an illness he was suffering from.1

The advanced party followed the Hasting’s cutoff trail blazed by the ill-fated Donner Party the year before. Three other groups also tried Hasting’s cutoff in 1846 but entered the valley through Weber Canyon.  The Donner Party instead pioneered a path through Emigration Canyon which the Latter-day Saints followed one year later. After leaving Emigration Canyon, The LDS pioneers traveled southwesterly along Emigration Creek till they reached a bank positioned where Emigration and Parley’s Creeks come close together. Thomas Bullock, the pioneer company’s clerk, wrote, “We descended a gentle sloping tableland to a lower level where the soil and grass improved in appearance.”

The Mormons had finally arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. Thomas Bullock described the campsite in his journal: “… after wading thro thick grass for some distance, we found a place bare enough for a camping ground, the grass being only knee deep, but very thick; we camped on the banks of a beautiful little stream which was surrounded by very tall grass.”

The original landscape of the area that would become the first encampment park is described as very beautiful as stated by Bullock: “we found a place bare enough for a Camping ground, the grass being only knee deep but very thick. We camped on the banks of a beautiful little Stream; which was surrounded by very tall grass. in digging a place down to the stream. cut thro’ a thin bed of Clay. After about a foot depth of rich soil; then rich soil again.” The camp was reportedly very sound and was located close to the present-day intersection of 1700 South and 500 East, in modern-day Salt Lake City.

This makes the First Encampment Park the approximate location where the First Pioneer Company of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints camped when they first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 22, 1847. The group included three enslaved men, Green Flake, Hark (Lay) Wales, and Oscar (Crosby) Smith. Their Latter-day Saint enslavers had sent them ahead to prepare cabins and to plant crops so that the white enslavers would have a place to live and food to eat when they arrived the following year. African American Slavery thus arrived in the Salt Lake Valley two days ahead of Brigham Young. 

On July 24, 1847, Brigham Young arrived at the second encampment two miles north, close to City Creek, where they began to grow crops and establish a layout of the new city they would build.

In 1997, 150 years later, community leaders established a small pocket park at the first encampment location, now known as the first encampment park. Its granite stone landscape bears the names of the first pioneers to arrive and represents the Wasatch Mountains and Emigration Canyon through which they traversed. This monument is a representation of the hardships and sacrifices of the Mormon pioneers. It details their journey across the mountains into the Salt Lake Valley. This place is the end of their long journey and the first place in the Salt Lake valley that they camped. For this reason, this marker is very significant in the history of Utah, much like Plymouth rock and its importance as the beginning of the United States. The first encampment park serves as the beginning of the Mormon story in Utah; it represents the beginning of Euro-American settlement in the Salt Lake Valley. Latter-day Saints hoped to be free from outsiders or others that would threaten to run them out of their houses and change their lives. The First Encampment Park represents the end of the Latter-day Saints’ long journey and the beginnings of their new settlement.

For Further Reference


Dixon, Randall W. “From Emigration Canyon to City Creek: Pioneer Trail and Campsites in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847,” Utah Historical Quarterly 65, no. 2 (Spring 1997): 155–64.

Franzwa, Gregory M. The Mormon Trail Revisited. Tooele, UT: Patrice, 2007.

Grandy, Joellen. “First Encampment Park Report.” Public Lands Department. Accessed February 2, 2022.

Kiser, Benjamin Kiser. “Green Flake,” Century of Black Mormons, accessed April 8, 2022.

Turley, Richard E. and Lael Littke, Wagons West: Brigham Young and the First Pioneers (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2016).

Weiss, Megan. “Hark Wales,” Century of Black Mormons, accessed April 8, 2022.


Thomas bullock journal, July 13- 22,1847, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Iosepa Settlement Cemetery

Published / by Cooper Bolton / Leave a Comment

Write-up and photos by Cooper Bolton

Placed by: Iosepa Historical Society

GPS Coordinates: 40°32’31.5″N 112°44’00.7″W

Historical Marker Text (1):

This hallowed place was dedicated on August 28, 1890 by President Wilford Woodruff for all the nations in the isles of the seas, the Polynesian pioneers, their descendants and the faithful church leaders who left their home in the mid 1800’s and migrated to this gathering place in Zion to be married in the holy temple for time and eternity.

   For 28 years (1889 – 1917) Iosepa was their home. In spite of the climate, isolation, loneliness, sickness, hardship, and death, their faith and courage never faltered. They overcame the cold winter, the summer heat, enjoyed the new life of spring and the bounteous harvest of the fall.

Their native songs and dances filled this beautiful valley, which they made “bloom as a rose” with love and aloha. A few remained in Utah, some on this consecrated spot, while the rest returned home to their beloved isles of the sea. The seeds of our Polynesian pioneers bore fruit in Hawaii – the Laie Temple, Brigham Young University – Hawaii, and the Polynesian Cultural Center. Holy temples stand firm in New Zealand, Western Samoa, Tonga, and Tahiti as monuments to the testimonies of the faithful Polynesian pioneers. We close this memory with their song of love:

Iosepa kuu home aloha

Iosepa kuahiwi ika nani

Iosepa ka home no ka’oi

Iosepa my home of love

Iosepa with it’s beautiful mountains

Iosepa my best home



National Register

Utah Historic Site


The Iosepa Community developed after Polynesian converts to the Mormon faith were employed as laborers by the Iosepa Agriculture and Stock Company in 1889. After numerous hardships, including bouts with leprosy, the colony attained a degree of financial independence and its population reached 228. In 1915 when the L.D.S. Church began to build the Hawaiian Temple, the need for “gathering” subsided. The Iosepa project was allowed to end and most of the settlers and their children returned to the Islands by 1917.

Division of State History N-38

Historical Marker Text (2):


HARVEY H. CLUFF 1889-1890 & 1893-1900

WILLIAM KING 1890-1892




Here lie the honored Polynesian pioneers who have sealed their testimonies in the dust, that God lives, Jesus is the Christ, all the presidents of the church are prophets of God, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true.

There are 79 graves in the cemetery. Only the names listed below are recorded. The rest are unknown, honored souls.




Historical Marker Text (3):











Historical Marker Text (4):

This lonely fire hydrant serves as a landmarker for the townsite of Iosepa, Utah, located on the desert floor between Cedar Mountain & the Stansbury Range in Skull Valley. Iosepa was named after Joseph F. Smith, 6th. President of the L.D.S. church. About 50 Hawaiians left Salt Lake City via Garfield by train, then by 20 wagons, to Grantsville, spent the night, arriving in Iosepa August 28, 1889.

The public square consisted of 16.9 acres, with 4 center streets, 132 ft. wide on four sides of the town park. A row of trees were planted in the center of each street. All the other streets were 66 feet wide and the blocks were divided into 4 lots, each containing ¾ acres.

All the streets had Hawaiian names. The original purchase consisted of 1,920 acres, of which 200 were under cultivation, the next two years accumulated to 5,273 acres. The water came from five streams collected in an open ditch put into a concrete conduit that furnished culinary water to each home. A fire hydrant and irrigation ditch went with each lot. The cemetery, about ½ acre, is located a mile northeast of the settlement. Iosepa won the state prize in 1911 for the best kept town and most progressive city in the state of Utah.

Only the Hoopiiaina family and J. Palikapee Nawahine remained in Utah. The rest returned home to Hawaii to settle and help build the Laie temple (1917-1919). Iosepa returned to dust, leaving a heritage of the faithful Polynesian pioneers, and closed a chapter in the great western American history.






Extended Research:

The Iosepa settlement was established by and for the Polynesian (mainly Hawaiian) members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which wished to live in Utah. It was founded with the arrival of 56 settlers to the site on August 28, 1889 and was abandoned by 1917.1 The town was settled out of a desire to relocate Polynesians in Salt Lake City to somewhere outside of the city. This was spurred on growing animosity towards Polynesians which was largely the result of controversy over Polynesian applications for American citizenship as well as fears over a rumored leprosy outbreak among native Hawaiians.2

Iosepa residents pickup up goods at Timpie Station
Photo Credit: Utah State Historical Society (accessed on 3.2.22)

The colony was originally settled as a joint stock company incorporated as the Iosepa Agriculture and Stock Company, being owned by the L.D.S. Church. Harvey H. Cluff was the president of the corporation and manager of the company, while a person by the name of I. W. Kauleinamoku was the leader of the Polynesian Mormons. The land was dedicated by then L.D.S. Church President Wilford Woodruff on August 28, 1890, exactly one year after colonization, as a “gathering place for the natives of the islands of the sea.” Contrary to the story told on the marker, Iosepa was not self-sustaining and relied heavily on the L.D.S. Church to cover expenses, likely due to its isolation (The closest settlement to Iosepa, Milton, was about 40 miles away. After 1906, Timpie Station, a station at which trains stopped only if signaled to do so, was established, but it was still roughly 15 miles north of Iosepa). Furthermore, the colony saw a number of crop failures due to the climate of the region. This, combined with the scorching heat of summer, the freezing cold of winter, and disease took a massive toll on the settlers.3

Iosepa residents in front of one of the original homes
Photo Credit: Utah State Historical Society (accessed on 3.2.22)

Despite these setbacks, life in Iosepa was reportedly pleasant. The L.D.S. Church was incredibly important to the colony and as such, the residents followed a schedule of annual holidays, including their own version of Pioneer Day, celebrated on August 28, and Church leaders visited the colony often. The diversity of cultures in the settlers could be seen especially in their festivities. Settlers prepared traditional Hawaiian food which was eaten alongside Euro-American food and eventually, the practices of the colony became unique in Utah while differing greatly from their Polynesian origins.

Welcome sign outside Iosepa cemetery

The people of Iosepa also made the education of all residents a priority, eventually hiring a teacher from outside the town. Additionally, the town was designed to provide enough space for everyone as well as to make freshwater available in every home.4 This can be seen in the townsite plat that was filed at the Tooele County Courthouse on July 31, 1908 based on the original townsite survey conducted by Frederick A. Mitchell and Francis M. Lyman.5

The historical marker within the Iosepa cemetery was dedicated on August 28, 1989, 100 years after the town’s founding, by then L.D.S. Church President Gordon B. Hinckley. All that remains of the settlement is the cemetery and a fire hydrant. The settlement reached a peak population of 228 in 1915 but was gradually depopulated as the L.D.S. Church began to build the Laie Temple in Hawaii and most of Iosepa’s residents chose to return to Oahu to assist in the Temple’s construction.6

[1] Dennis H. Atkins, “A History of Iosepa, the Utah Polynesian Colony,” 1958

[2] Matthew Kester, “Race, Religion, and Citizenship in Mormon Country: Native Hawaiians in Salt Lake City, 1869-1889,” Western Historical Quarterly 40, no. 1 (2009), 52; Matthew Kester, Remembering Iosepa: History, Place, and Religion in the American West (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).

[3] David L. Schirer, “Iosepa,” Utah History Encyclopedia, 1994

[4] Dennis H. Atkins, “A History of Iosepa, the Utah Polynesian Colony,” 1958

[5] “Big Event for Iosepa Colony,” Deseret Evening News, September 1, 1908, 5.

[6] Scott Lloyd, “Iosepa Memorial Honors Utah’s Hawaiian Settlers,” Deseret News, August 29, 1989; Dennis H. Atkins, “A History of Iosepa, the Utah Polynesian Colony,” 1958

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Diary of Harvey H. Cluff. Digital scan of original manuscript. 1889. Digital Collections, Special Collection Miscellaneous 3. BYU Library.

Secondary Sources:

Atkin, Dennis H. “A History of Iosepa, the Utah Polynesian Colony,” 1958.

“Big Event for Iosepa Colony.” Deseret Evening News. September 1, 1908.

“Iosepa Memorial Honors Utah’s Hawaiian Settlers.” Deseret News. August 29, 1989.

Kester, Matthew. “Race, Religion, and Citizenship in Mormon Country: Native Hawaiians in Salt Lake City, 1869-1889.” Western Historical Quarterly 40, no. 1 (2009): 51–76.

Kester, Matthew. Remembering Iosepa : History, Place, and Religion in the American West. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Schirer, David L. “Iosepa.” In Utah History Encyclopedia, edited by Allen Kent Powell. Accessed March 2, 2022.

Published / by Kenny Son / Leave a Comment

Write-up by Ben Chin

Placed by: Sons of Utah Pioneers, June 1988

GPS coordinates: Latitude: 40.708513, Longitude: -111.801820

Historical Marker Text:

William Stuart Brighton was born in Lanarkshire, Scotland in 1829.  He married Catherine Bow (born in 1827 at Sterling, Scotland) in 1850.  He was baptized in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1844.  They immigrated to Missouri in 1855 with two children, one of whom was buried at sea during the passage.  They came to Utah in 1857 by handcart company.  They had four sons born in the United States- Robert, William, Thomas, Daniel and Janet, born in Scotland.

In 1871 William S. Brighton claimed over 100 acres at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon.  William and Catherine built the first hotel there at “Brighton” in 1874.  It was razed in 1945.  Later they added cottages, the original Brighton store, a post office, a telephone service, a dairy service, freight haulage, a bakery and a sawmill.  Catherine Bow Brighton named the lakes around Brighton- “Mary” after her infant daughter, “Catherine” after herself, “Martha” after a friend, etc.  About 1887 the Brighton sons built the first telephone line through Brighton to Alta.  The world famous ski resort and area is now permanently called “Brighton” after this early family.

William Stuart Brighton died in 1895 and Catherine Bow in 1894.  They are buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Extended Research:

William Stuart Brighton originally immigrated from Liverpool to New Orleans before eventually making his way to Utah as part of the Israel Evans Company in 1857.[1] He kept a diary while on the voyage in which he describes some of the hardships and difficulties he and his family encountered, including the loss of his daughter, Mary. “Tuesday 19 Dec. 1854. Fine weather and a fair wind. My wife is again on deck with my assistance my children is still lying very bad this morning. The ordinance was administrated to my wife and children. The measles made their appearance on Mary this day and I was kept so busy attending my wife and children up to the 21 Dec. 1854 that I could not take an observation of our travels when at 1 o’clock on the 31st, my child, Mary departed this life…”[2] Aside from illness, Brighton and many others on the ship experienced food shortages to such an extent that nearly caused the captain to redirect course back to Liverpool.

When the ship finally did arrive in New Orleans on January 12th, 1855, Brighton and his family temporarily settled there before joining a group of Mormons pioneers to migrate westward to Utah. The Israel Evans company was the 6th handcart company that consisted of 149 individuals and 28 handcards. It started its journey at the outfitting post in Iowa City, Iowa on May 22nd-23rd, 1857. When the company made it to Utah on September 11th-12th of the same year, it was documented in the Deseret News: “Elder William Walker’s freight train was at Deer Creek on the 8th inst., and Elder Israel Evans’ hand-cart company would arrive there that evening. Elder Benjamin Ashby is with Elder Evans. There are 30 hand-carts, 2 teams and some 150 persons in the company; they are very lively and making good progress.”.[3]

Upon his initial entrance into the Utah territory, Brighton provided for his family by working temporary jobs such as driving teams, harvesting, and general labor. One of his early bosses, Daniel H. Wells, served as a connection for Brighton to construct a mill in Big Cottonwood Canyon, where he and his family eventually built a hotel and other businesses.[4]

William Stuart Brighton

When analyzing the life of William Stuart Brighton, it is apparent that his life is not unlike many of his peers during this period.  He, like most other Mormon pioneers, came to Utah territory because it suited his needs; the Brighton family could live among people who shared similar beliefs and values and it offered financial opportunity.  What sets Brighton apart from other pioneers and warrants a historical marker is the amount of area he claimed at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon and its subsequent development into a popular ski resort named in his honor.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

Brighton, William S. “Diary of William Stuart Brighton.” Saints by Sea: Latter-Day Saint Immigration to America, January 12, 1855, 5–16.

“William Stuart Brighton.” Pioneer database. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Accessed February 2, 2020.

Secondary Sources:

Morris, Rod. “Salt Lake City Big Cottonwood Canyon and William Stuart Brighton.” Balsam Hill Cabin. Accessed February 2, 2020.

[1]The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  William Stuart Brighton, 2018-09-01,  (accessed 2020-02-25)

[2] Brighton, William S.  Diary of William Stuart Brighton, Saints By Sea: Latter Day Saint Immigration to American, 1854-12-19,  (accessed 2020-02-25)

[3] “Arrival and Latest News”, Deseret News, 19 August 1857,  (accessed 2020-02-25)

[4] Balsam Hill Cabin.  Salt Lake City: Big Cottonwood Canyon and William Stuart Brighton,

Huntington Settlement

Published / by Chas Rafiti / Leave a Comment

Write-up by:  Chas Rafiti

Placed by:  The Daughters of Utah Pioneers, no. 105. 

GPS Coordinates:  

N 39°21’10.47” 

W 111°0’45.82” 

Historical Marker Text:  

In 1875 Leander Lemmon and James McHadden seeking a good range for their horses, found feed plentiful at the mouth of Huntington Canyon and vicinity. Mr. Lemmon brought sheep and cattle from Cottonwood, Salt Lake County. In the Autumn of 1876, he built the first log cabin on Huntington Creek, near this marker. An irrigation ditch was dug, taking water from the nearby creek. The town is situated on Huntington Creek, from which it receives its name. 

Extended Research: 

The history of Mormon colonization is generally separated into distinct phases.  In the first decade after Mormon arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, several important cities were founded to the North and South of Salt Lake City, such as Ogden (1848), Provo (1849), Parowan (1851), and Cedar City (1851).[1]  This north to south string of colonies provided the Mormon settlers with a solid base of control, along a route commonly referred to as the Mormon Corridor.  Many of these cities had become very important outposts for the Mormons. As the years passed, and as some of these southern settlements became prosperous and overpopulated, calls to venture east were made by the LDS Church hierarchy. Overpopulation had become a major problem for many Mormon settlements by the 1870’s, as a new generation of people had grown up in Utah.[2]  This issue, along with encouragement from the Church hierarchy in the early and mid 1870’s, led to the eventual colonization of Castle Valley, and therefore the city of Huntington among others.

The establishment of the first settlements near Huntington creek occurred in the 1870’s during the third decade, or phase, of Mormon colonization.  Different from the second phase, which was a result of the threat from the Federal Army under General Johnston in 1857, when colonists were called back from outlying areas such as San Bernardino and Carson Valley, the third phase saw a huge expansion of Mormon settlements all across the territory. This phase led to the development of ninety-three new colonies in Utah, including the Huntington settlement.[3]

The region where the town was eventually established had likely been named by the Huntington brothers, Dimick, Oliver, and William, who first explored the area in the 1850’s.[4]  However, it was not until 1875 when the first settlers of European descent arrived in the area. Four cattle herders, Bill Gentry, and Alfred Starr, as well as the two men referenced in the marker, James McHadden and Leander Lemmon, brought their herds to Huntington Creek in search of a place for their stock to graze and rest.  McHadden and Lemmon jointly developed the area along the creek, where the marker is placed. However, of these four men, only Leander Lemmon remained permanently to settle the town, his house likely becoming the first above ground building in the area, and still stands today.[5]  These men migrated across the La Sal Mountains, in Sanpete County, into the Huntington area, where they attempted to find new lands worthy of settlement. The prosperous towns of Sanpete County had become overpopulated and lacked available land and water, thus prompting their desire to seek new homes. Soon many other settlers made the same crossing, coming into Castle Valley in significant numbers in the late 1870’s. 

The original house of Leander Lemmon, built around 1901.

As Leander Lemmon built his house, dug irrigation ditches, and cared for his livestock, more families came into the area, largely from Sanpete County.  On August 22, 1877, Brigham Young issued a declaration to colonize and explore the areas of Castle Valley, including Huntington.[6]  This was in response to overpopulation in Sanpete County as well as an attempt to stake claims on available land before non-Mormon settlers could.  He sent an expedition from Sanpete County in 1877, led by Elias Cox to scout the region for arable land.[7]  This party would approve of the area and began construction on ditches and houses near the Lemmon homestead.  As this area opened up, more parties from Sanpete migrated to and settled the lands near Huntington Creek and Cottonwood Creek to the south, largely relying on agriculture and livestock. Initially, the settlement of the Huntington area was the result of one man, however only a few years later, entire families and other immigrants were entering the area and starting new lives. What began as Leander Lemmon’s need for land for his stock, led to a colony with a population of 126 by 1880, and eventually the city of Huntington.[8] 

Fast forward to the modern day and Huntington is the largest city in Emery County. In the decades after the initial settlement, coal mining and the railroad became the main industries of the area, while having significant agriculture and livestock production as well.[9] Although definitely small compared to larger and more well known cities in Utah, Huntington is important because it represents the late stages of Mormon colonization and this initial settlement helped spur the development of Castle Valley and the entirety of what would become Emery County. The creation of Huntington was a result of the successes of other cities throughout Utah, as more people emigrated to this area in search of unused land. This is an important area in Utah history because it was one of the last areas to be developed by colonists, and is a piece of the timeline of Mormon settlement. To this day the marker for the initial camp and the house of Leander Lemmon still stand, and Huntington remains a small town, secluded in the beautiful setting of Castle Valley.

[1]  Powell, Allan Kent. Utah History Encyclopedia. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1995. 106.

[2] Powell, Allan Kent. Utah History Encyclopedia. 108.

[3] Powell, Allan Kent. Utah History Encyclopedia. 107.

[4] Powell, Allan Kent. Utah History Encyclopedia. 264.

[5]  Geary, Edward A. A History of Emery County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1996. 52.

[6]  Taniguchi, Nancy J. Castle Valley America Hard Land, Hard-Won Home. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2004. 34.

[7]  Taniguchi, Nancy J. Castle Valley America Hard Land, Hard-Won Home. 33.

[8]  Powell, Allan Kent. Utah History Encyclopedia. 264.

[9] Powell, Allan Kent. Emery County: Reflections on Its Past and Future. Salt Lake City, UT: Utah State Historical Society, 1979. 128.

For Further Reference: 

Primary Sources:

Berrett, William E., and Alma P. Burton. Readings in L.D.S. Church History: from Original Manuscripts. First ed. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1955. 

Secondary Sources: 

Geary, Edward A. A History of Emery County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society,   1996.

Powell, Allan Kent. Emery County: Reflections on Its Past and Future. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1979.

Powell, Allan Kent. Utah History Encyclopedia. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1995.

Taniguchi, Nancy J. Castle Valley America Hard Land, Hard-Won Home. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2004.

The Great Salt Lake Base and Meridian

Published / by Benjamin Judd / Leave a Comment

Write-up by: Benjamin Judd

Placed by: Mutual Improvement Associations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints and Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association

GPS Coordinates: 40º 46’ 04” N, 111º 54’ 00” W

Historical  Marker Text:

Great Salt Lake Base and Meridian

Fixed by Orson Pratt assisted by Henry G. Sherwood, August 3, 1847, when beginning the original survey of “Great Salt Lake City,” around the “Mormon” temple site designated by Brigham Young July 28, 1847. The city streets were named and numbered from this point.

David H. Burr, First U.S. Surveyor-General for Utah, located here in August 1855, the initial point of public land surveys in Utah, and set the stone monument, still preserved in position.

An astronomical station, its stone base still standing 100 ft. N. and 50 ft. W. of this corner was established by George W. Dean, U. S. C. & G. Survey, September 30, 1869, to determine the true latitude and longitude; it was used to obtain correct time at this point until December 30, 1897.

Extended Research:

In the summer of 1847 the first Euro-American settlers arrived in what would become Utah Territory. Mormon pioneers traveled West to escape persecution, ending their journey in the Salt Lake valley. After arriving in the valley, the saints quickly began building up the new city around a point designated by Orson Pratt as the base and meridian. 

This point marks the center of Salt Lake City. Many Utah cities share a similar grid system where the streets run north to south, criss-crossed with streets running east to west. Many of Salt Lake’s streets have no names, but rather obtain their labeling by their distance from this marker in each direction beginning with zero, and progressing by roughly 100 with each city block. Brigham Young, as president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, started this system, with the city emanating from the temple lot, keeping it a focal point of their daily lives. “Here we will build the temple of our God,” Young said upon choosing the spot [1]. This point marked more than just the center of their city, it marked the center of their lives. 

In October of 1855, at the point surveyed by Orson Pratt, the surveyor general named David H. Burr placed a stone marker depicting the location of the base and meridian of Utah. Benjamin Thomas Mitchell received payment of $25 to carve the marker out of local sandstone. Mitchell, one of the designers and masons for the Salt Lake Temple, first worked on the Nauvoo Temple in Illinois. Mitchell designed the ‘sun stones’ which adorned the exterior of the Nauvoo Temple, and this experience qualified him for the new task. His marker stood for many years, but the sandstone eventually wore down and eroded until it needed to be replaced, even after receiving a protective Iron fence in 1932. [2].

In August 1989 a replica marker, carved in sandstone taken from the same area as the original, took the spot. Johann Huettlinger, a trained mason, matched the original design, and placed the new marker where the first stood all those years. In 1992, the original marker carved by Benjamin Mitchell then took up residence in the LDS Church History Museum located on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. [3].

Notably, a discrepancy between Orson Pratt’s findings, and the actual coordinates of the “Initial Point,” shows roughly 27 degrees of difference. [4]. Pratt originally surveyed the area upon being the first to arrive in the valley. His work, found using astronomical observations and an array of tools and equipment brought West with him, guided the entire layout of the city. Newer GPS technology shows a minor difference between the points, though the mistake often goes overlooked due to the inaccuracy of the surveying equipment used. The point chosen by Orson Pratt remains the center of the city to this day, central to much of life in Salt Lake City and even surrounding areas.

Photo of  original sandstone marker carved by Benjamin Thomas Mitchell surrounded by a barrier fencing to protect the stone from further damage and deterioration.

(Photo Credit: accessed 02-15-2020)

[1] Marsh, W. Jeffrey. “Brigham Young: A Disciple Indeed.” Religious Educator: Perspectives onthe Restored Gospel 3, no. 3 (2002): 23.

These words were spoken by Brigham Young with the touch of his cane to the very grounds the temple sits on. It was at this points when the saints began to build Salt Lake City around the temple lot. This took place just days after entering the valley.

[2] “The Center of the City.” Church History. Accessed February 25, 2020.

[3] De Groote, Michael. “How Everything in Utah Is Connected to Temple Square.” Deseret News. Deseret News,November 6, 2008. everything-in-utah-is-connected-to-temple-square

[4] “The Center of the City.” Church History. Accessed February 25, 2020.

For further reference:

Primary sources:

Historic American Engineering Record, Creator. Great Salt Lake Base & Meridian, Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, UT. Salt Lake City Salt Lake County Utah, 1968. Documentation Compiled After. Photograph.

Nielsen, Quig. “1855 Base and Meridian Market on Display.” Davis County Clipper. March 20, 1992. Https://

“Tablet Honoring Surveyor Who Fixed S. L. Meridian to Be Placed.” Salt Lake Telegram, 6 June 1932. Utah Digital Newspapers. Accessed March 28, 2020.

“Permission Given to Fence Marker,” Salt Lake Telegram, 9 June 1932. Utah Digital Newspapers. Accessed March 28, 2020.

Secondary sources:

“The Center of the City.” Church History. Accessed February 25, 2020.

De Groote, Michael. “How Everything in Utah Is Connected to Temple Square.” Deseret News, November 6, 2008. everything-in-utah-is-connected-to-temple-square

Marsh, W. Jeffrey. “Brigham Young: A Disciple Indeed.” Religious Educator: Perspectives on the Restored Gospel 3, no. 3 (2002): 23.

“Utah Surveying History.” Utah Council of Land Surveyors. Accessed March 13, 2020.

Wysong, Sheri. “The Mountain Men, the Cartographers, and the Lakes.” Utah Historical Quarterly 86, no. 2 (2018): 129-147.

Aunt Libby’s Dog Cemetery

Published / by Shannon Gebbia / 2 Comments on Aunt Libby’s Dog Cemetery

write-up by Shannon Gebbia

Placed by: Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Associations, No 95

GPS Coordinates: N 40° 07.123, W 112° 34.660

Historical Marker Text:


Enclosing graves (west side) of two men and a child emigrants of the early eighteen sixties.

Original wall erected in 1888, By Mrs. Horace (Aunt Libby) Rockwell to shelter graves of her beloved dogs. 1. Jenny Lind, 2. Josephine Bonaparte, 3. Bishop, 4. Toby Tyler, Companions in her lonely, childless vigils here about 1866 to 1890.

Erected by enrollees U.S. grazing division C.C.C camp g-154, company 2517.

Utah pioneer trails and landmarks association Tooele tourism tax grant

Sons of Utah pioneers

-settlement canyon chapter

SUP No. 239     Rededicated 2017

Extended Research:

Sometime between 1860 and 1870, Horace Rockwell and his wife Elizabeth “Libby” Rockwell moved to Skull Valley, a 40-mile long valley in what is now Tooele County, Utah. They operated the Pony Express station known as Point Lookout then continued living on the property in a log cabin built by stage workers after the station had closed.[1] They became horse and cattle ranchers and garnered a reputation as “rough frontiers folk” and “two strange characters.”[2], [3] Over time, the pair came to be known affectionately as Uncle Horace and Aunt Libby.

Uncle Horace and Aunt Libby owned one of the only sources of water along their stretch of the Overland Trail and charged travelers a fee to access it. Many riders and locals remembered Aunt Libby for smoking a pipe and treating her dogs better than her hired men.[4] Her “colony of dogs” were described as black and tan, short-haired, possibly of the “Fiste” breed (perhaps a misspelling of Feist, a small hunting terrier).[5] Aunt Libby liked to name some of her dogs after popular characters of the time, both fictional and real. Her variety of name choices reveals a wide range of interests in music, history, and popular literature: Jenny Lind, the “Swedish Nightingale” of the mid- to late-19th century opera scene; Josephine Bonaparte, the first Empress of France; and Toby Tyler, the 10-year-old protagonist of the children’s novel, Toby Tyler; or, Ten Weeks with a Circus.[6]

Photo of the site in August, 1941, prior to restoration by the UPTLA.

 As testament to her devotion for her dogs, Dr. W. M. Stookey, a member of the Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks association, recalls an instance when Aunt Libby called upon Tooele’s Dr. William Bovee Dods to tend to one of her dogs, which had fallen ill. When Dr. Dods refused, Libby forced one of her workers, Elijah Perkins, to play sick, thus tricking Dods into paying a visit to the cabin. Once there, he reluctantly tended to the dog, and she paid him $100. Aunt Libby’s trick only worked once—the next time a dog got sick, the Rockwells had to travel roughly 70 miles to Salt Lake City.[7]

Photo of the site in August, 1941, prior to restoration by the UPTLA.

When one dog died en route for treatment in Salt Lake City, Aunt Libby brought him back to Point Lookout and buried him near a collection of three graves belonging to immigrants who had died while passing through Skull Valley.[8] She then hired a stone worker, Gustave E. Johnson, to build a wall around the small graveyard.[9] As her beloved dogs passed on over the years, Aunt Libby buried each one in her cemetery.

The Rockwells moved to California sometime after May 25, 1890 and lived there for the remainder of their lives.[10] Aunt Libby’s Dog Cemetery is the only structure still standing on the property known as Point Lookout.

View from Hwy 36 Pony Express Road

The historical significance of this cemetery seems to be centered around its location among the Pony Express stations along Utah’s section of the Overland Trail. Unlike Horace’s brother, Orrin Porter Rockwell, Horace and Libby Rockwell were not major figures in Utah or Mormon history—monuments haven’t been built in their name, we don’t learn about them in history lessons. But one story about a rough, pipe-smoking woman who tricked a Tooele doctor into treating her sick dog has survived the test of time and given historical value to this cemetery. Dr. Stookey explains that the reason for including the cemetery as an “extra in the line, both in design and significance,” was due to a “growing increase in its unique history,” and perhaps because it is one of the only remaining structures along this section of the Overland Trail.[11] Regardless of the reasoning, by including the cemetery among Utah’s historical markers, the UPTLA created an avenue for Aunt Libby’s stories to be retold forever. Within the chasm between the details of each recollection, we find the personality of that “strange character” Aunt Libby. According to most of the people who described her over the years, she was a rough, childless, pipe-smoking woman, unafraid of outlaw Porter.[12] But by way of the legacy of pet cemetery and the stories about her dogs, we see a giving, loving, motherly woman whose cultural knowledge reached far beyond the secluded scope of the Wild West.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources

“Fatally Burned.”  Los Angeles Times. March 26, 1901. Accessed February 24, 2020.

Sharp Manuscript: Stories published by James P. Sharp. Compiled by Shirley Sharp Pitchford and Susan Sharp Hutchinson. Utah State Division of History Archives.

Sharp, James P. “The Pony Express Stations.” Improvement Era (February 1945): 76–77.

Stookey, W. M. “They Died But Lived Again! Aunt Libby Rockwell’s Doggone Dogs and Their Lonely Cemetery Beside the Historic Overland.” Salt Lake Tribune. August 31, 1941. Accessed February 24, 2020.

Utah Pioneer Trails and Landmarks Association marker records, ca. 1930–1990s. MSS B 1457, box 1. Utah State Division of History Archives.

Secondary Sources:

Bluth, John F. “The South Central Overland Trail in Western Utah, 1850- 1900.” U. S. Bureau of Land Management.

Bluth, John F. “Supplementary Report on Pony Express Overland Stage Sites in Western Utah.”

Fike, Richard E. and John W. Headley. “The Pony Express Stations of Utah in Historical Perspective.” Cultural Resources Series Monograph 2. Bureau of Land Management of Utah, 1979.

Jessop, J. D. “The Ghost of Aunt Libby May Be Nearby.” Tooele Transcript Bulletin, October 2, 2014.

[1]Bluth, John F. “The South Central Overland Trail in Western Utah, 1850-1900” (U. S. Bureau of Land Management), p. 4. (accessed February 10, 2020); Jessop, J. D. “The Ghost of Aunt Libby May Be Nearby.” Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah, October 2, 2014. (accessed January 29, 2020); Stookey, W. M. “They Died But Lived Again! Aunt Libby Rockwell’s Doggone Dogs and Their Lonely Cemetery Beside the Historic Overland.” The Salt Lake Tribune, August 31, 1941. (accessed February 24, 2020). The exact date is unknown as several accounts differ, but they all agree the Rockwells lived at this location until sometime in 1890.

[2] Stookey.

[3] Sharp, James P., “The Pony Express Stations ,” Improvement Era, (February, 1945), 76-77. (accessed Feburay 10, 2020)

[4] Stookey.

[5] Sharp.

[6] Jessop, Stookey.

[7] Stookey, Jessop. Several newspaper stories reported this story, but the accounts differ as to which dog was ill, who called for Dods, and the amount he charged.

[8] Stookey, Bluth. Three unknown emigrating travelers died and were buried here.

[9] Stookey.

[10] Jessop; Stookey; Los Angeles Times, “Fatally Burned.” March 26, 1901. (accessed February 24, 2020) Again, much is contested about the date, but one fact stands out: Aunt Libby burned in her house after falling asleep smoking her pipe.

[11] Stookey’s article explains the UPTLA’s haste in using the nearby CCC camps to help place markers and monuments along the difficult terrain, and that most Pony Express stations had “little or nothing remaining of the originals.” The survival of this cemetery and its story provide a picture of life along the trail.

[12]Lloyd, Erin. “Colors of Life Paint Rich Past in Rush Valley.” Tooele Transcript-Bulletin, 9 Dec. 1998, pp. 25–27. The article states Porter Rockwell owed $500 to his brother Horace, and Libby vowed to cut off Porter’s hair if the debt remained. LDS history states Porter’s hair long hair held significance to his faith.

The Old Fort

Published / by Aaron Stark / Leave a Comment

Write-up by Aaron Stark

Placed by: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, No. 253

GPS Coordinates: 40° 30’54.5″N, 111° 24’46.0″W

Historical Marker Text (Center Plaque):

THE OLD FORT In 1858 a group of men came from Provo, surveyed the valley into 20-acre plots, and selected the townsite of Heber. The following winter twenty families stayed here. As protection from the Indians, they built a fort 1 block south and 1 block west from this site. Homes built of cottonwood logs and joined together formed the outside walls of the fort. A schoolhouse 20 by 40 feet was built within the fort with two fireplaces and a stage. The building also served for church and socials. In 1860 the fort was enlarged to house forty-four families.

Center Plaque of Marker. Photo by Aaron Stark

Historical Marker Text (Left):

  • Elizabeth Carlile
  • George Carlile
  • John Carlile
  • C. N. Carroll
  • Jean Clotworthy
  • John Crook
  • William Davidson
  • James Carlile
  • James Davis Richard Jones
Left Plaque of Marker. Photo by Aaron Stark

Historical Marker Text (Right):

  • John Jordan
  • John Lee
  • James Laird
  • Hyrum Oaks
  • Thomas Rasband
  • Alex Sessions
  • Bradford Sessions
  • John Sessions
  • Charles Thomas Elisha Thomas
Right Plaque of Marker. Photo by Aaron Stark
Full Image of Marker in-front of a Smiths Marketplace. Photo by Aaron Stark

Extended Research:

During the 1850s some settlers at Provo, in Utah County, began to feel squeezed out of the best plots of land. The first settlers had claimed the prime spots which left newcomers looking for new opportunities. The settlement of Heber City, in Wasatch County, was thus a spillover of settlers from Provo. Most of Wasatch County’s early population thus came from Utah County as people moved from Provo to claim land in Heber Valley.

The major obstacles to settling Heber Valley were its cooler climate and the treacherous route through Provo Canyon which made it difficult to access. To make the settlement of Heber Valley possible, colonizers first had to build a road through Provo Canyon.

By 1852, a man by the name of William Gardner explored a hazardous route into Wasatch County and then proposed a road be built there. Just before the end of the Utah War in 1857, a group of men pitched a proposal to leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to construct a road into Heber Valley. In response, on 6 June 1858, Brigham Young, LDS president and former territorial governor, along with a group of volunteers, met in Provo and formed the “Provo Kanyon Company,” organized to build the road.

The company completed the construction of the road by 1859, thus making the settlement of Heber Valley possible.[1]

Layout of the Old Fort. Photo by Utah Centennial County History (Wasatch County)

In the winter of 1858, even before the road was finished, a group of men explored the land in Heber Valley and made plans for a new settlement. By the following year, the settlers built a fort as the initial communal structure. Over time the building became known as the “Old Fort.” The settlers chose a fort as their initial structure principally for the protection they believed it would provide. Their fort was rectangular in design with settlers’ cabins forming the outside walls. Native Americans were a common threat at the time and the fort served as a safe haven for the Mormon settlers. Ultimately, however, it was Native peoples who needed protection from Mormon settlers who displaced Native Americans and occupied their land. By late 1859, eighteen families had moved to the fort as their new home. Within the same year, settlers dedicated the fort to Heber C. Kimball, an LDS apostle, and the fort, the new community, and the surrounding valley thereafter carried his name. By 1860 nearly sixty-six homes had been built in the fort although the town remained isolated due to the challenges that deep snow and winter weather presented. By 1864, residents began to move from the fort and form a city outside its walls.

Growth came rapidly to the new thriving city of Heber. By 1868, the Desert News reported that Heber City was in a “very prosperous condition and that the facilities for farming and stock raising are excellent…”[2]

Excerpt from The Wasatch Wave in July 1957

Even though the “Old Fort” was eventually abandoned, it nonetheless represented the first Euro-American settlement of the valley. By the 1950s, community members expressed a desire to commemorate the town’s beginnings at the Old Fort. From 1957 to 1959, the Daughters of Utah Pioneers (DUP ) worked on marking the land where the Old Fort was originally built. It was their desire to forever commemorate those settlers who first came to Heber Valley and called it home. On 21 July 1959, the DUP placed a stone marker that holds the three plaques discussed here.

More from The Wasatch Wave in July 1959

In the twenty-first century, Heber City has grown from its beginnings at the Old Fort into a developed and thriving settlement. In 2003, CNN Money placed Heber City on its “Best Vacations” list. Calling Heber City “an uncrowded weekend haven,” CNN extolled the city’s scenic beauty and outdoor potential.[3] Only two years later CNN Money called  Heber  “a fast-growing metropolis at 15.1% growth.”[4] Even on TripAdvisor, Heber is marked as a popular location to visit. Overall, Heber has experienced steady growth since the days of its founding, the rate of which has only accelerated since 1940.

Heber City Census:

YearPopulationGrowthAnnual Growth Rate
Heber City today. Photo by Trip Advisory

[1] Embry, Jessie L. A History of Wasatch County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1996.

[2] “Deseret News: 1860-08-08: Improvements in Provo Valley.” Utah Digital Newspapers. Accessed January 29, 2020.

[3] “Best Vacations: Heber Valley, Utah.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network. Accessed April 1, 2020.

[4] Christie, Les. “The Nation’s Fastest-Growing Areas.” CNN, September 22, 2005.

For Further Reference:

Primary Sources:

“Deseret News: 1860-08-08: Improvements in Provo Valley.” Utah Digital Newspapers. Accessed April 2, 2020.

Secondary Sources:

Embry, Jessie L. A History of Wasatch County. Salt Lake City: Utah State Historical Society, 1996.

“History: ‘Discovery, Paradise Land, and Timeline.’” History | Heber City, UT. Accessed April   1, 2020.

Jenson, Andrew. Encyclopedic History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT: Printed by Deseret News Publishing Company, 1941.

Christie, Les. “The Nation’s Fastest-Growing Areas.” CNN, September 22, 2005.,+2005&urlID=15626342&action=cpt&partnerID=2200&fb=Y&url=

“Best Vacations: Heber Valley, Utah.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network. Accessed April 1, 2020.