Sunday, July 24, 2005

Pioneer Day

Happy 24th of July!

Today Utahns celebrate the arrival of the Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley.

(Actually, we celebrate tomorrow, since the 24th fell on a Sunday this year.)

The date of July 24th, 1847 is significant in our state and cultural histories, as the first group of permanent settlers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. When the pioneers arrived, not even American Indians lived in the valley, having forsaken it for the lusher and greener valley surrounding Utah Lake to the south.

For the Mormons, at long last this was trail's end. Years of struggle and sorrow had brought them here. After trying to found and grow their church for seventeen years, they had been driven from their homes in Ohio and Missouri, and again from Nauvoo, Illinois. They had endured despite the loss of their leader, the Prophet Joseph Smith, murdered in the jail at Carthage, Illinois in 1844, and the deprivations which culminated in the final expulsion of the Saints from Nauvoo in the winter of 1846. Somehow, their faith held on as they followed the new prophet Brigham Young away from the frontier of the United States and into the wilds of the American West.

Here, in the tops of the mountains, they would make their home.

Steve Greenwood,

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