First Experiences in Utah

Ground was flooded and the first plowing in the valley was begun on July 23 by the advance party. The next day saw the planting of potatoes and corn, for the colonists clearly foresaw the necessity for haste if anything was to be grown in the short season left.

The colony was increased materially in the first week by the arrival of a company of Mississippi Saints and a detachment of the Mormon Battalion, which had wintered at Pueblo. With characteristic Mormon vigor all set to work, crops were planted, a stockade and several shelters erected, and small exploring excursions undertaken. One of the first trips was to the north along the foothills of the Wasatch, where the warm springs in the vicinity of North Salt Lake were discovered. Ensign Peak to the north, overlooking the city, was climbed and named; a party investigated Great Salt Lake and the valleys to the south; and the site for Salt Lake City was determined and a city survey begun by .

By the end of the year the colonists had erected a fort to house them for the winter, had explored Tooele, Cache, Cedar, Rush, and Utah Valleys, reaped a meager harvest, established a stake of Zion, and cleared immense tracts of land for spring planting. Concerning the activity of these months, wrote,

“We have accomplished more . . . than can be found on record concerning an equal number of men in the same time since the day of Adam.”

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Excerpts from Utah’s Story, American Guide Series, Utah State Road Commission (1942), 51. This series was compiled by workers of the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration for the State of Utah.  This article originally appeared in Vol.60 No. 2 of Pioneer Magazine.

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