On the Trail with Latter Day Saints

Randall Stephens

In the New York Times Matt Jenkins reports on living history in Utah at This is the Place Heritage Park, a sort of Mormon Old Sturbridge Village. The park

commemorates the pioneer history of the Mormons. Chased out of Nauvoo, Ill., by vigilantes and fired with a vision of a divine kingdom on earth, Brigham Young and 147 members of his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endured a 1,300-mile, canvas-topped, hardtack-fueled, cholera-racked test of faith to reach the Wasatch Front in 1847. . . .

Living history season at the park, when re-enactors inhabit a spit-shined facsimile of frontier Utah that is practically a stone’s throw from the high-rise towers downtown, runs from mid-May through September. In the Cedar City tithing office two girls stand ready to accept the suggested 10 percent from the 19th-century faithful, while nearby a schoolmistress explains the Deseret Alphabet, Brigham Young’s stab at enlightened lexicography that has since passed into extreme obscurity.

Jenkins also offers suggestions for where to go, what to see, and what to eat. The Mormon Trails Association site is a good place to start.

For this weekend, the 24th-25th, This is the Place Heritage Park announces:

Pioneer Heritage Days

Celebrate with the pioneers. Pie eating contest, watermelon eating contest, candy cannon, kids’ parade, foot races, crafts, games, music, flag raising ceremony. This is the place and time to teach another generation about their family’s heritage and have fun doing it. Whether your family arrived in a covered wagon or a wide-bodied jet, we all came from somewhere else. Renew those family ties here where history lives.


John G. Turner said…
We drove around This is the Place while making a trip to the SLC zoo last month. My daughter's interest in animals overrode my interest in Brigham Young, but we could at least see a statue of him at the park across from the zoo.

We went to a Pioneer Day event in Provo's Pioneer Park that, as far as I could tell, had absolutely no reference to Mormonism, just pioneering in general. I thought that was a bit odd.

I love extra holidays. It's good to live in Mass. and get Patriot's Day or Utah and get Pioneer Day (though if you're only there for summer research it's a bummer the archives are closed).

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