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   LINKS to other pages in this site and to other sites in the Colin Day 'Travelling Days' series:

Utah Home Page:      Arches National Park:      Canyonlands:
Monument Valley:      Salt Lake City Part 2:  
Moab and the Colorado River:       Canyonlands:      Utah Miscellany:      
Travelling Days Home Page:      America West Home Page:      Guest Book:     
Colin Day's List-O-Links:
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UTAH is one of the fastest growing states in the USA and its rapid growth is attributed to both a high birth rate and to immigration. The population reached almost 2.1 million in 1998.

    Salt Lake City is the largest city in the state with a population of 174,348. Overall, Utah is expected to continue to have the youngest population in the nation. Utah's median age in 1998 was 26.7 years, well below the national figure of 35.2 years.

    Utah's number of people per family is 3.67, compared to the national figure of 3.16. This is attributed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints belief in having large families! Membership of the Church throughout the world today numbers 11 million. (Statistics provided by the Church of Latter-day Saints - with acknowledgement)

    The large, shallow Great Salt Lake (pictured above and below) lies 10 miles to the north east of Salt Lake City. In ancient times the level of the lake was around 1000 feet above its present level. Its maximum depth is around 30 to 45 feet depending on the time of the year. Its salinity is high - over 20% compared with sea water salinity of 3.5%. The lake has been declared a World Heritage bird sanctuary. The California Gull, state bird of Utah, nests here and in the spring and summer the area provides a home for migrant waders, shorebirds, gulls, waterfowl and tern.

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Temple Square is a landscaped ten acre area in the centre of Salt Lake City and is one of Utah's most visited attractions. The centre piece of the Square is the six spired granite Salt Lake Temple.

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Four days after entering the Salt Lake Valley on 24 July 1847, Brigham Young designated where the temple would be built. On 6 April 1853, he laid the cornerstone of the temple foundation. Granite was quarried in Little Cottonwood Canyon, 20 miles southeast of Temple Square, and transported to the site by teams of oxen.

    The temple was completed forty years after building was started and was dedicated on 6 April 1893 by Wilford Woodruff, the fourth President of the Church.

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A statue of Joseph Smith Junior, the first president of the Church, stands in Temple Square.

  The following biography is compiled from information gained from a number of sources including a 1987 article by C. Clark Julius (to whom due acknowledgement is given here).

  Joseph Smith was born on 23 December 1806 in Sharon, Vermont. His father, also named Joseph, and his mother, Lucy, had a farm which failed to provide a satisfactory living so the family moved to another farm near Palmyra, New York State.

   As a young man Joseph set out with his father to look for lost Spanish treasure in the Susquehanna Valley in Pennsylvania but they were unable to find anything of value. His father returned to his home in Palmyra but Joseph stayed on in the valley - he had fallen in love with Emma Hale, the daughter of Isaac Hale, in whose house Joseph and his father had boarded during the hunt for treasure. Her father disapproved of their relationship so, in January 1827, Joseph and Emma eloped to New York State where they got married.

  Joseph had previously received a number of angelic visitations. An angel, Moroni, had led Joseph to a place on a nearby hill which Joseph called Cumorah. Later, digging where the angel had indicated, Joseph found a set of golden plates comprising a holy text, called the Book of Mormon.

  The book was written in symbols which Joseph called "reformed Egyptian" but with the gold plates were two stones, with which Joseph could decipher the ancient symbols on the gold plates. Joseph was able to read the plates and translate them into English by gazing into the 'stone spectacles'.

   To convince any sceptics that the plates did indeed exist, he showed them to several trusted acquaintances who signed statements as witnesses, declaring that they had seen the plates.

  Joseph later said that he had returned the plates to the angel Moroni who 'took them off to eternity'. The manuscript of the translation went to a printer in Palmyra. The Book of Mormon told of the arrival from the Old World some four thousand years previously of the first Americans and of Jesus Christ's teachings in America. On 25 March 1830 the book went on sale in the local bookshop and was reviewed a few days later in the newspapers of Rochester, New York. The book was deemed by the newspapers to be blasphemous.
  Shortly after the publication of the Book of Mormon, Joseph organized his first Mormon church congregation in Kirtland, Ohio. Converts, including his parents and brothers, were baptized by total immersion in Lake Seneca. The church organisation continued to grow and spread to Missouri and to Illinois where a Mormon community was established at Nauvoo.

   In his preaching Joseph Smith 'did not terrify his audiences with vivid pictures of hellfire; in fact he held out for his converts not the dangers of hell but the likely prospect of eternal bliss. Heaven was not hard to attain. Joseph began to plan for an earthly paradise for Mormons that would be far removed from people of other faiths. The Mormon's new home, with its ideal society, would be called Zion.'

  It is thought that Joseph, following what he believed to be God's revelation to him, contemplated making multiple marriage in the church a moral practice as early as 1831, although he realised that the practice could shock both members and non members of the Church. He himself proposed what he called "celestial" marriage to a number of women, some of whom were already legally married to other men. Those husbands who felt that Joseph's decision was wrong, forcefully questioned his leadership of the church, bought a printing press, and issued a rebel Mormon newspaper with articles attacking Joseph's policies.

   'Joseph ordered his followers to destroy the printing press of his opponents. After the press was wrecked, the governor of Illinois charged Joseph with violating the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, and ordered his arrest.'

  The state militia marched to Nauvoo and took Joseph and his brother Hyrum into custody at the jail in Carthage, Illinois, A day or two later a band of vigilantes marched to Carthage jail, their faces painted to conceal their identities.

   The guards on duty failed to stop them and the vigilantes fired several shots. It is said that Joseph ran to a window but was shot from behind. At the same time, he was shot by other vigilantes stationed below. Joseph fell from the window 'and the vigilantes on the ground put several more shots into him'. His brother, Hyrum, met a similar fate. The 'martydom' of Joseph Smith at the age of thirty-eight took place on 27 June 1844.

  Brigham Young shortly afterwards became the second President of the Latter-day Saints. In 1846 the first group of followers moved westwards to find a place where they could build a peaceful community without fear of persecution. In July 1847 they arrived at the Great Salt Lake where Brigham Young made his famous declaration, "It is enough. This is the right place!".

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The Assembly Hall situated on the southwest corner of Temple Square is a Gothic-style building with exquisite stained-glass windows. It was constructed by Latter-day Saint pioneers in 1877.

    Today the Temple Square Concert Series presents free concerts in the hall and these feature local and international choirs and artists every Friday and Saturday evening.

    The Seagull Monument is located in front of the Assembly Hall and 'stands as a memorial to the flocks of seagulls that saved the crops of the early Saints in the Salt Lake Valley during the summer of 1848. The Seagull Monument was designed and created by Mahonri M. Young, a grandson of Brigham Young and dedicated on 1 October 1913.

    'The settlers' first winter in the Salt Lake Valley had been a hard one. Food was scarce, and all hoped that the next year would bring a large harvest. Crop failure meant disaster for the present colony and no food for the more than 2,000 Saints planning to immigrate to the Salt Lake Valley that year.

    'When spring came, the hopeful pioneers planted grain and vegetables. Unfortunately, catastrophe after catastrophe hit. First, a late frost damaged much of the crops. Then, in May and June, a drought injured more of their potential harvest. Finally, hordes of crickets descended from the foothills and began devouring the remaining crops. For two weeks the pioneers battled the crickets and prayed for relief.SLCTemple11.jpg - 59149 Bytes

'Seagulls came from the Great Salt Lake (pictured at top of page) and flew to the fields and began devouring the crickets. For two weeks they continued their attack and many of the crops were preserved.' (Text with acknowledgement to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)