Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pioneer Day

In the lore, Brigham Young's entry into the Salt Lake Valley, and the words he spoke, mark the origins of the Mormon empire that would arise from the valley floor.

Well, there's more to it. The first pioneer to enter the valley was Apostle Orson Pratt and a band of front-runners who rode through tall grass on July 21 and set up camp at what is now 1700 South 500 East. The next day, after a terribly difficult passage down Emigration Canyon, another band made camp in a cottonwood grove in the heart of what would become Salt Lake City. On July 23, the pioneers started plowing. And finally, 161 years ago today, Young arose from his wagon and proclaimed as the story goes "This is the right place. Drive on."

Pioneer Day is a state holiday in Utah in the United States. It is celebrated on July 24 each year to commemorate the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into Utah’s Salt Lake Valley in 1847. This day celebrates the bravery of the original settlers and their strength of character and physical endurance.


This day commemorates the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into Utah’s Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. The Mormon pioneers viewed their arrival as the founding of a Mormon homeland, hence Pioneer Day. The Mormons, as they were commonly known, left their settlement in Nauvoo, Illinois, and journeyed west seeking refuge from religious persecution. The final impetus for their trek was the murder of founder and prophet Joseph Smith on June 27, 1844.

Determined to settle in an isolated region, the pioneers made their way across the plains and over the Rocky Mountains to Utah. They lost many of their party to disease during the winter months. By the time that they reached Utah, the desolate valley was a welcome sight. Potatoes and turnips were soon planted, and a dam was built. With solemn ceremonies, the settlers consecrated the two-square-mile city, and sent back word that the “promised land” was found. By the end of 1847, nearly 2000 Mormons settled in the Salt Lake Valley. The first Pioneer Day was celebrated in 1849 with a parade, band music and speeches. In modern times July 24 is celebrated annually as Pioneer Day, a state holiday, in Utah.

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