The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA) spans 250 miles (400 km) within central and southern Utah, along Highway 89, and State Route 24 and 12- which is Utah’s only All-American Road. It was established by the U.S. Congress to commemorate the sacrifices and triumphs of the Mormon pioneers who settled the region. The MPNHA is divided into five districts, according to geographic and historic criteria: Little Denmark, Sevier Valley, the Headwaters, Under the Rim and the Boulder Loop. The area which now composes the MPNHA was settled by pioneers in the years following the emigration of Latter-Day Saints, into the Salt Lake region of Utah. It was the intent of Brigham Young to establish colonies throughout the Intermountain West from Oregon to the Mexican border, and to create a “Mormon Corridor” from Salt Lake City to the Pacific Ocean. Beyond the sometimes hostile natives and natural impediments to travel, the pioneers had to contend with the harsh and unpredictable climate and short growing season of the High Plateau Region, which made ranching and farming difficult and often only marginally profitable. Some settlements were literally washed away by floods while others were killed off by a lack of irrigation water. Despite these adversities, the Latter-day Saints succeeded in establishing permanent settlements in the region which still contains thousands of examples of historic pioneer buildings.
The Heritage area begins in the town of Fairview and continues south to the Arizona border. The area is full of examples of cultural and architectural history that was shaped by the Mormon pioneers.The most notable architectural achievement of the settlers was the Manti Temple, which was completed in 1888 from oolite limestone quarried nearby. The temple contains two 95 foot unsupported wooden spiral staircases. The entire town of Spring City is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It contains many examples of oolite, brick and adobe homes, mostly constructed by the Scandinavian converts who settled the area.
The heritage area offers traces of famous outlaws, Native American cultures, mining barons, Spanish priests, rugged trappers, and the farming and ranch lifestyle of the Mormon Pioneers. You can view pre-historic Indian sites, remnants of the old west, forts, State Parks, and historical markers. Shops selling classic western saddles, boots and wear have been around for years. You can also see early Utah architecture in the homes and restored buildings. Artisans of every kind are numerous in the heritage area. Shops and galleries display fine art and photography, western memorabilia, and some of the highest quality Native American crafts and jewelry in the region. Saddle makers, an historic grist mill, antique shops, mystic hot springs, and museums; even a 100 year old salt mine that is still in use. Utah Senator Bob Bennett introduced legislation to establish the MPNHA in April 2003 for the purpose of preserving “the rich heritage and tremendous achievements of the Mormon Pioneers.” His bill was passed by the U.S. Senate in July 2006 and signed into law by President George W. Bush in October of the same year.
Saga of the Sanpitch The Saga of the Sanpitch is a 30 volume collection of stories and poems, published annually from 1969 to 1998, about early pioneers of the Sanpete Valley of Central Utah. ONLINEVOLUMES:
Settling Sanpete Valley In the spring of 1849, Brigham Young was approached by Chief Walker of the Ute Indian tribe. He requested that Brigham Young send white settlers to his Valley of the Sanpitch to teach the Indians how to plant and grow crops and how to build homes like the white men had.
After much thought and prayer Brigham Young sent Parley P. Pratt to lead a group of explorers to the area to see if it would be a good place for pioneers to settle. Parley’s report to Brigham was positive and soon a group of 50 pioneer families were on their way to this beautiful valley to begin settling in. The group of pioneers arrived in November of 1849. They had barely arrived when a winter storm began its furry. The valley became covered in several feet of snow. Their wagons were not the best protection from the wind and cold so they began to build shelters in the side of the mountain, which is now known as Temple Hill. They dug holes in the mountain and placed logs to support the roof. The front side was built with logs and mud with a door or blanket to block out the wind. A fireplace was built inside which helped keep them warm. These homes were crude but much better than living in the wagons, and the south facing hill helped protect them from the severe north winds. The winter was horrible. The Indians said it was the worst winter in decades. Only half of the cattle that the pioneers brought survived that winter. The dead cattle were given to the starving Indians which made for good relations between the Indians and the pioneers. As the Indians were camped only about a mile away it was important to have good feelings between them. Spirits rose as the winter slowly melted away bringing warmer days and nights and thoughts of the summer which was to come. However, their trials were to continue. The warmer days began to awaken the sleeping rattlesnakes that had taken refuge in the same mountain that the pioneers had built their dugouts in. Soon hundreds of hissing rattlesnakes appeared in the dugouts. They were everywhere! As the sun began to go down the snakes became more plentiful and the battle was on. The settlers armed themselves with clubs, torches and anything else that they could use as a weapon against hundreds of snakes. The settlers killed more than three hundred snakes before morning. It was a miracle that no one was bitten. These brave pioneers faced more trials in Sanpete Valley as they survived two Indian Wars, insects, lack of water and illness. But they endured and soon Sanpete Valley was in full bloom from north to south and east to west. The pioneers spread throughout the county as new immigrants arrived from Sweden and Denmark. They came with talented craftsmen whose workmanship can still be seen in Sanpete County today. Much has happened since the winter of 1849. Sanpete County now has many beautiful cities, tourist attractions, farming and industry. It is a beautiful and quiet place to live and to visit. Sanpete County is a winter paradise for snowmobilers, snowboarders, snow kiters and skiers. In the summer it offers beautiful lakes, swimming, and fishing, camping and boating. Much is owed to the brave and stalwart pioneers who settled Sanpete County in Utah’s heartland. (Some details taken from “The Other 49’ers” by Albert C. T. Antrei and Ruth D. Scow)
The Folly of Funk's Lake (Palisade State Park) Palisade State Park is one of the most popular resorts in central Utah and the story of its creation is an interesting one.
In about 1873 Daniel B. Funk who was one of the original settlers of Sterling, saw the need for a pioneer recreational area. He requested that Brigham Young negotiate the purchase of land that was used as a favorite camping place by the Indian Chief Arapeen and his tribe.
Daniel’s plan was to fill this small valley with water to make a lake. The Indians and others got a good chuckle over the plan requiring water to “run up hill.” The Indians may have agreed to the sale of the property just to see if Daniel could actually pull it off. Daniel went ahead with his plan, skirting a rock outcrop with a flume and finally filling the valley from Six Mile Creek. There they planted trees, built a dance pavilion, boat docks, bath houses and cabins in the quiet and peaceful valley. At one time there was even a small steamboat called “Eagle” that plied the lake. Tragedy struck the area communities in 1878 when rough water capsized a launch loaded with youth enjoying a Sunday school party. There were 13 youth ages 9 to 19 aboard, mostly from Ephraim. Eleven of its panic-stricken passengers drowned. Eventually the popularity of the lake increased and Daniel cut and stored ice in the winter and sold a heaping plate of ice cream for 5 cents during the summer. After Daniel’s death the lake fell into disuse and disrepair. The 1920’s brought an increased interest in outdoor recreation and the lake was restored. By 1923 the lake had electric lights, a baseball diamond, and the outdoor dance pavilion with a maple floor, three rowboats, and a six-passenger launch. During the winter months it made for great ice skating. The park was renamed Palisade Park in 1929. Outdoor dance pavilions were extremely popular in the 1920’s. Dancing was always a favorite form of recreation for Mormon pioneers but the new invention of the automobile made it possible to travel long distances in shorter time and the pavilions became remarkably popular. These pavilions brought people from many towns together to enjoy this great recreation.
The pavilions were relatively cheap and required nothing more than a vacant field, a concrete or hardwood floor, and inexpensive lattice work enclosures. Virtually every town had a dance pavilion. During the summer months there was a dance in at least one pavilion five or six nights a week. It was a favorite activity for the youth for many years. In the 1970’s, the park was renamed Palisade State Park and is now maintained by the State Parks. Its elevation is 5900 feet and offers picnicking, camping, boating, swimming, fishing and a 9-hole golf course in a lovely mountainside setting. Daniel Funk’s dream not only came about, but is still providing great recreation for the local communities as well as the hundreds of visitors who enjoy the quiet valley in the mountains of the Wasatch Plateau. (Some data taken from “The Other 49’ers” by Albert C. T. Antrei and Ruth D. Scow)
A Most Unusual Proposal Mary Artemesia Lowry was a pretty young lady living in the new settlement of Manti. This day she felt especially lucky because it was her turn to stay at home with Grandma. Of course, there were numerous tasks to attend to, but anything was better than working in the field all day long under the hot August sun.
Mary quickly planned her day: first, she would care for Grandmother Brown, then she would clean the eggs, mix the bread, churn the butter and maybe, just maybe, she could work on her quilt blocks before she had to start supper for the family. She was busily working through her jobs, when a loud knock came at the door. Before she could answer it, the door flew open and a deep voice in broken English said, “Me come in! Me come in!” To her frightened dismay, there stood Walker, chief of all the Ute Indians, in his finest Indian regalia, and with him were several of his young Indian braves. She was so startled she could hardly move, but somehow she did manage to slip back of her invalid Grandmother’s chair, as if she could protect her. (Grandmother Brown was a helpless, speechless invalid.) Mary herself could not speak and she began to shake with fear. Oh, the thoughts that went through her mind! What did he want? What could she do? The settlers had been told it is better to ‘feed than fight’ the Indians. Could she give him the food she was preparing for supper? She soon found that the savage had come on a most amazing errand. The great powerful warrior came all bedecked in his feathered headdress, beads and paint. He bound his ebony locks with copper wire and tied tinkling bells to his legs. Tossing furs, blankets, and beads on the table, he said, “You be my white sqaw! I give you more, you marry me.!” This was his proposal of marriage to this beautiful, innocent young maiden. He promised he would line her wigwam with buffalo robes, costly furs, ermine, sable, and bear skins, sheep pelts and cowhides. He would give her many horses because he was rich. He promised her he would never take her to the mountains to live as he did his other squaws. But she could live in his wigwam and he would learn the white man’s ways and live with her. Mary listened with trembling lips and a faint heart to his lengthy, powerful proposal of marriage. Oh what could she do? What could she say? She thought, “Nothing could be worse than to marry this old reprobate.” But she knew she could not make him angry. If only her father and brothers were here they could defend and help her. The refusal of his proposal could cost the lives of every man, woman and child in Manti. He was known for his murders, his pillage, his assassinations and she remembered well the horrors of Indian massacres. She knew she should not lie, but what else could she do under these circumstances? Throwing aside all her young romantic dreams, but being resourceful and as courageous as possible she falteringly declared, “Oh, I can’t marry you. I’m already married, a white man’s squaw!” “Who?” Walker demanded. She quickly thought of all the names of her friends who were eligible for marriage. Then, in desperation, the name of her twin sister’s husband, a prominent man in the settlement, came to her mind and she blurted out, “Judge George Peacock.” He hardly believed her and with fire flashing from his eyes, the old warrior glared at her and took from his belt a knife, and plunged it into the pine table, indicating what Judge Peacock could expect. Haughty and hurt, the old chief grabbed his furs and jewelry and said, “We will see!” as he stomped out slamming the door behind him. Mary was frightened, and agonized as she paced the floor. What had she done? Lied to save herself! This could cause serious trouble in the whole settlement. It was a great relief when her family came from the fields. She ran to her father’s arms and she told them what had happened. Her father consoled her but said, “Your word must be made good.” He sent the boys to summon Judge Peacock and Father Morley to come quickly. The brethren knew the seriousness of the problem. They knew Chief Walker had visited Brigham Young and requested a white squaw. President Young had told him he could have one if he could find one who would marry him. Little did Brother Brigham know that he already had one in mind, Mary Lowrey, the Mormon Bishop’s daughter. Judge Peacock smiled and said he would be pleased to marry her. The ceremony was performed in haste by Father Morley, and when he tied the knot, it was tied fast and sure! A message was sent to Brigham Young in Salt Lake City of the incident. Word came back from Brother Brigham, “Come to Salt Lake City and remain in hiding until the passion of the old chief has had time to cool!” They left immediately and did not return until Walker’s passion had subsided. Mary’s very ordinary day turned into her wedding day and the incident was told over and over again to her posterity. Courtesy: Helen Dyreng Manti, Utah