Menu
Destinations

Religious History

Builders of Utah

Pioneers Utah History
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, circa 1847, they brought with them their beliefs in Jesus Christ, who they and other Christians proclaim to be The Son of God. These pioneers, had come to this area primarily to find a place where they would be free from religious persecution. Over time additional religious organizations established a presence in what became known as the Utah Territory. Today there are a wide range of Christian and non-Christian religious denominations within the state of Utah, and some of these religions also played a role in shaping the lives of Utah's early residents.
Other religions in Utah include...
Baptists
Buddhism
Catholic
Episcopalian
Hindu
Islam
Jehovah Witness
Judaism
Lutheran
Methodist
Pentecostal
Presbyterian
Traditionally referred to as Mormons, because of their belief in a book compiled by an ancient American prophet whose name was Mormon, members of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints believe in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Denomination members are sometimes also referred to as Latter Day Saints or LDS for short. The name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is purposeful in it's clear identification that its' adherents clearly follow Jesus Christ, and are members of His church as it has been restored in the Latter Days. These Mormon pioneers were instrumental in establishing a large part of the western United States.
Early History of
The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
in Utah
Background: During the early 1840's, through religious and political persecution, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints were driven from their homes in the then western U.S. states of Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Their religious leader, Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum were wrongfully imprisoned in Illinois and an angry mob attacked the prison and murdered both men. Persecution of the people continued until Brigham Young determined to lead the people further west into the ungoverned territories where it was believed they would be free from the mistreatment they had experienced. Members of this church were referred to as Mormons because of their belief in the Book of Mormon, a book compiled anciently by a prophet on the American continent whose name was Mormon.

Selecting The Valley of the Great Salt Lake: Church leaders had heard from trappers and western explorers about the valley of the Great Salt Lake and they determined to lead the growing population of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to this valley. In the summer of 1847 the first wagon trains of Mormon pioneers, led by their prophet Brigham Young, entered the valley of the Great Salt Lake. A month earlier Brigham Young met with Jim Bridger, famous trapper and western explorer, at his fort in Wyoming where they discussed the prospects of successfully establishing farms and actually growing food in the Salt Lake valley. Bridger was not optimistic, but Young seemed determined that grain and vegetables would be capably produced in this dry desert environment.

pioneers history
Entry Into The Valley: When Brigham Young and 148 other wagon train members passed through the valley's eastern mountain range on July 24, 1847 Brigham paused and contemplated the scene before him. At this overlook point he stated to the group of weary travelers, “This is the right place.” It is reported that Young had seen the valley in a vision, and he recognized it when he saw it.

Establishing: The Mormon people immediately began to establish farms and small communities in the Salt Lake Valley. They experienced some initial stringent hardships with lack of lodging during inclement weather, cricket infestations eating their crops, and many other challenges. Utilizing various streams that flowed from the mountains into the valley the pioneers used irrigation canals to bring water to their farms, and through the composting process, began to change the composition of the desert soil. Brigham Young soon sent out selected individuals to explore the surrounding region, and subsequently sent groups of pioneers to settle other valley locations to the north and south of the Salt Lake valley.

Growth: For nearly 10 years these members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (nicknamed as Mormons) lived in relatively quiet anonymity as thousands of immigrants, converts to the church, traveled to a place they referred to as Zion. In 1850 the U.S. Congress officially designated the region as the Territory of Utah. Missionaries from the Latter Day Saint church had previously been sent throughout the U.S., Canada, and western Europe finding their message of Christ to be well received by many. Subsequently tens of thousands of new converts traveled by ship and then wagon or handcart for 1,000 to 2,000 miles, and most enduring great hardships in the process. The travelers came from the United Kingdom and many Scandinavian countries to the Utah Territory to unite with others of their newfound faith.

Colonizing: Mormon settlers found that this area, known partially as the Great Basin, was a harsh land that required a taming that these settlers managed with knowhow and cooperative efforts. Cities were designed and construction began for Bountiful, Farmington, Provo, Manti, Ogden, and Tooele which were all established within 3 years of arrival. Eventually 500 communities were settled in and around the state of Utah. They created farms, built homes and businesses for trade.

State of Utah: In 1896 when Utah was granted statehood, the 45th to join the Union, there were 250,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Today there are just over 2 million who currently live in the state of Utah, and the church now claims an additional four-plus million in the United States and an additional ten million in other countries of the world.
Temples: A key tenet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is that temples are holy sanctuaries where families can be joined together forever. For church members temples are used differently than chapels, as they are considered places where very sacred ordinances are performed such as marriages for eternity, and not just until the time of death. The Salt Lake City temple was the first to begin construction and was the fourth temple to be completed. With a 40-year construction period the Salt Lake Temple stands today as a valiant representation of the dedication and faith of the early pioneer settlers. The Salt Lake City temple is at the center of Salt Lake City's downtown Temple Square, a destination that covers 10 acres and attracts millions of visitors yearly (more than any single National Park in the state).
Temple Square Attractions/Facilities:
Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square
Assembly Hall
Beehive house
Church History Museum
Family History Library
Joseph Smith Memorial Building
Pioneer Log Home
Visitor Center at Temple Square

Today there are just under 30 temples throughout the state, and 300 temples existing or under construction throughout the world. The state of Utah has a rich in church history. 

Highlighted historic destinations in Utah:
Cove Fort
Brigham Young Winter Home
Jacob Hamblin Home
St. George Tabernacle
Temple Square
This is The Place Monument
There are also many historic tabernacles and visitor centers throughout the state, many of which are open daily for visitors.

magnifiercrossmenuchevron-down