July 24th, 1847 is celebrated as the day Mormon pioneers settled the state of Utah after being forced from Nauvoo, Illinois. However, do you know that there were a series of events from July 12th- July 31st that decided where the Latter-day Saints were to reside? The prophet Brigham Young and his apostles declared that the prophecies of Isaiah were fulfilled as they surveyed the mountains and landscape surrounding the Salt Lake Valley.
The excerpt below is from a July 1997 Ensign article entitled “On The Trail in July” which was provided as part of the sesquicentennial celebration of the arrival of Latter-day Saint pioneers.
Saturday, 24 July 1847
In 1888 President Wilford Woodruff recounted the historic moment when President Young arrived at the mouth of Emigration Canyon: “When we came upon the bench, I turned the side of the vehicle to the west so that he could obtain a fair view of the valley. President Young arose from his bed and took a survey of the country before him for several minutes. He then said to me, ‘Drive on down into the valley, this is our abiding place. I have seen it before in vision. In this valley will be built the City of the Saints and the Temple of our God.’”
After descending the bench, President Young said later that, “[George A.] Smith came about 3 miles from [the City Creek] came to meet me [when I entered the valley]. … I then pointed to a peak on the north and said, ‘I want to go up on that peak, for I feel fully satisfied that that was the point shown me in the vision, where the colors fell, and near which I was told to locate and build a city.’”
President Young arrived in the encampment at about noon and sometime during the day told men of the camp that “this was the place he had seen long since in vision; it was here he had seen the tent settling down from heaven and resting, and a voice said unto him: ‘Here is the place where my people Israel shall pitch their tents.”
Sunday, 25 July 1847
“It was a pleasant day, and at ten o’clock the pioneers met in worship in the circle of their encampment. Elders George A. Smith, Heber C. Kimball and Ezra T. Benson were the speakers. They expressed gratitude for the blessings of the Lord during their travels to this promised land. Not a soul had died on the toilsome journey. In the afternoon another service was held and the sacrament was administered. Elders Wilford Woodruff, Orson Pratt and Willard Richards were the speakers at this service.
The principal address was given by Elder Pratt who took for his text, Isaiah 52:7–8: ‘How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace.’ He stated that the predictions of the prophets were now being fulfilled,” inasmuch as they had arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake in the midst of the mountains.
President Young was too weak to make extended remarks, but near the close of the services he gave some advice regarding keeping the Sabbath day holy and being industrious in developing homes and farmland. When [he] finished his discourse, he led his people in the sacred shout of ‘Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lamb. Amen, Amen, and Amen!’” Of that event, one man wrote: “Then the valleys rang with the exultant themes of the Hebrew prophets, and the ‘Everlasting Hills’ reverberated the hosannas of the Saints.”
Howard Egan wrote of a 1:00 P.M. meeting when Elder Heber C. Kimball addressed a small group: We “shall go tomorrow, if Brigham is well enough, in search of a better location [to build the city] if, indeed, such can be found. If not, we shall remain here … inasmuch as we have reached ‘the promised land.
Monday, 26 July 1847
About 10:00 A.M. President Young and Elders Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, Ezra T. Benson, and Willard Richards, together with Albert Carrington and William Clayton, went northward about a mile and climbed the low mountain peak that President Young had said on Saturday he wanted to ascend. While there, President Young said it would be “a good place to lift up an ensign, referring to Isaiah’s prophecy; so they named it ‘Ensign Peak.’” Isaiah’s prophecy reads: “And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel” (Isaiah 11:12).
Five years later, President Young bore witness to thousands of Saints at the laying of cornerstones for the Salt Lake Temple of another event that Monday morning: “We were on this ground, looking for locations, sending our scouting parties through the country, to the right and to the left, to the north and to the south, to the east and the west; before we had any returns from them, I knew, just as well as I know now, that this was the ground on which to erect a temple—it was before me.”
President Wilford Woodruff recounted in the Pioneer Day celebration of 1888: “On a day or two following our arrival, a remarkable incident occurred. While President Young was walking with several of the Apostles on the higher ground northwest of our encampment, he suddenly stepped out, stuck his cane into the barren ground and sagebrush, and exclaimed, ‘Right here will stand the Temple of our God.’ We had a peg driven down and it was nearly in the middle of the Temple as it stands today.”
Subsequent to these events, a number of exploring companies were sent out, two of which crossed the river they called the Western Jordan, and ascended the mountains on the west of the valley. It was later, on Sunday, 22 August, when the Brethren formally sustained the proposals that their city be called “The Great Salt Lake City” and “the river running west of this place” be called “The Western Jordan.”
For some of the Brethren, the parallel geography of the Salt Lake Valley and the Holy Land, each with salt and freshwater lakes joined by a river, was additional silent witness that this was the reserved place for the Lord’s latter-day Saints, just as the Holy Land was the promised land for the Lord’s people anciently.
To read more of the events from this article go HERE