Category Archives: Skiing

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. https://saintsbysea.lib.byu.edu/mii/account/244.

“William Stuart Brighton.” Pioneer database. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Accessed February 2, 2020. https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/pioneers/20835/william-stuart-brighton.

Secondary Sources:

Morris, Rod. “Salt Lake City Big Cottonwood Canyon and William Stuart Brighton.” Balsam Hill Cabin. Accessed February 2, 2020. http://balsam-hill-cabin.com/php/book/ch1.php.


[1]The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  William Stuart Brighton, 2018-09-01, https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/pioneers/20835/william-stuart-brighton.  (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, https://saintsbysea.lib.byu.edu/mii/account/244.  (accessed 2020-02-25)

[3] “Arrival and Latest News”, Deseret News, 19 August 1857, https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/sources/9044/arrival-and-latest-news-deseret-news-weekly-19-aug-1857-188.  (accessed 2020-02-25)

[4] Balsam Hill Cabin.  Salt Lake City: Big Cottonwood Canyon and William Stuart Brighton, http://balsam-hill-cabin.com/php/book/ch1.php