Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
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Pioneer Date Summary

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07/26/1847 - Crockett

Date: July 26, 1847

Salt Lake Valley, Utah:
The pioneers arose early at the sound of the bugle at 6 a.m. and went back to work plowing and planting. Some of those who were still sick went to bath in one of the warm springs and said the effects were greatly beneficial. Others left in the morning to also try out the springs which were 109 degrees. A company of fifteen men left to make a road to the timber in City Creek Canyon. A tent was raised in a grove near the camp for men to work in making clothes. Robert Baird made buckskin pants and Thomas Cloward mended the pioneers' shoes. Joseph Matthews and John Brown headed toward the mountain to the west.

It was probably on this morning that an historic event took place. Wilford Woodruff later said: "He [President Young] said to me in the morning, "Brother Woodruff, I want to take a walk." "All right," said I. A number of the Twelve Apostles were there and they got together. He commenced to walk from our encampment across this barren desert, this sage plain without any guide to mark anything appertaining to the future of the children of men in this land. President Young was quite feeble. He wore his little green cloak upon his shoulders and he walked slowly along. As we advanced from below on to the rising ground we came to a certain spot where he stopped very suddenly. He took his cane, which had a spike in the end of it, and stuck it down into the ground, and said, "Here shall stand the Temple of our God." . . . I asked him to stop there till I could break a piece of sage brush or something that I could drive down into the place. I did nothing else until I put a stake in that spot that he marked with his cane, and then we went on about our business."" [He also noted on another occasion that the place they marked was nearly in the middle of the Temple as it stands to-day.] Wilford Woodruff also took Brigham Young in his carriage about two miles to the north to choose a nice spot for a garden.

At 10 a.m., an exploring company left consisting of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, George A. Smith, Ezra T. Benson, Willard Richards, Albert Carrington, and William Clayton. They traveled to the north and climbed the bench of land which would later be "Capitol Hill." William Clayton wrote: "We arrived on a beautiful table land, level and nicely sloping to the west. Here we halted to view it and the more we viewed, the better we were satisfied that it is as handsome a place for a city as can be imagined. At the east part there is a considerable creek of clear cold water descending from the mountains and just above this place it branches into two forks, one running northwest the other southwest and the two nicely surrounding this place, and so well arranged that should a city be built here the water can be turned into every street at pleasure."

Brigham Young wanted to climb the peak to the north. His brother, Lorenzo had joined in with the company. William Clayton further recorded this historic climb: "After some hard toil and time we succeeded in gaining the summit, leaving our horses about two-thirds the way up. President Young felt pretty well fatigued when he got up. Some of the brethren feel like naming this Ensign Peak. From this place, we had a good view of the Salt Lake and could see that the waters extend for a great many miles to the north of us."

Wilford Woodruff's record of this hike reads: "We all went onto the top of a high peak in the edge of the Mountain which we considered a good place to raise an ensign upon which we named Ensign Peak or Hill. (I was the first person that ascended this hill.) Brother Young was very weary in climbing the peak, he being feeble."

[In later years, histories would be record that on this occasion the brethren unfurled the American flag as the Ensign of liberty. There is no evidence for this and it is generally considered false. At the time of the Pioneer Jubilee in 1897 the "Salt Lake Herald" erected a tall liberty pole on the top of the mountain from which the "Stars and Stripes" were unfurled. On July 26, 1934, a monument was erected there commemorating the alleged raising of Old Glory.

In 1910, William Smoot, one of the last surviving pioneers spoke of this event: "Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and his associates went up on the hill and toward Ensign Peak which was the name they gave it, as Kimball said: 'We will someday hoist an ensign here.' . . . While they were up there looking around they went through some motions that we could not see from where we were, nor know what they meant. They formed a circle, seven or eight or ten of them. But I could not tell what they were doing. Finally they came down in the evening. . . . They hoisted a sort of flag on Ensign Peak. Not a flag, but a handkerchief belonging to Heber C. Kimball, one of those yellow bandana kind."

On July 26, 1996, near the foot of Ensign Peak a park was dedicated by Presdient Gordon B. Hinckley. He said: "We pray that through the years to come, many thousands of people of all faiths and all denominations, people of this nation and of other nations, may come here to reflect on the history and the efforts of those who pioneered this area. May this be a place of pondering, a place of remembrance, a place of thoughtful gratitude, a place of purposeful resolution."]

They divided into two groups to descend Ensign Peak. Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, Albert Carrington, and William Clayton descended on the northwest corner, while the rest went back down on the east side and visited the warm springs. Elder Kimball's group had a long hike down and then wound their way around the hill and came to the warm sulphur springs where water was boiling out of a rock at the foot of the mountain. [This warm spring was located near present-day Children's Museum of Utah. In 1850, a bathouse 15 X 30 feet was dedicated and a grove of Locust trees planted. Jesse C. Little built a hotel there in the 1850's. James Townsend later leased the Warm Springs until his death in 1886. In 1932 it was named Wasatch Springs Plunge.]

After a cool drink of fresh water from a stream, George A. Smith, William Clayton, and Albert Carrington decided to go on and see the river [Jordan River] which they had seen from the top of Ensign Peak. They soon found the road used by the Donner-Reed party and others during the previous year. After traveling about two more miles, they came to the river which was about 80 feet wide and three and a half feet deep at a crossing point. The soil along the river was good. While at the river, they saw Wilford Woodruff's carriage in the distance heading to the north, so they started to follow them. The carriage headed to a large hot sulphur spring near the mountain. Before George A. Smith's group caught up, the carriage had already head back toward camp. The group decided to go ahead and visit the hot spring.

William Clayton wrote about this visit to the hot spring: "We arrived at the big spring about four o'clock and making our horses fast, we went down to where it boils out of the rock. This spring is also situated at the foot of the mountains and at the base of a large rock, perpendicular on the west side and gradually losing itself on the east in the mountain. The spring, as I have said, is at the base of this rock. There is a circular hole about four feet wide and a yard high from the top to the surface of the water from whence the water boils out in a considerable stream. The water itself in the spring seems to be about two feet deep. There is a rock at the mouth of the spring where a person can stand and see inside. Standing on this rock with your face near the mouth of the spring a strong warm sulphurous air is felt to come in gusts out of the rock and it is so hot that it requires only a few minutes to start the perspiration. On putting my hand in the spring, I was startled with the heat and found I could not bear to hold my hand in five seconds. It is as hot as the hottest dish water ever used for dishes." Thomas Bullock also visited this hot springs earlier and wrote: "The water was so very hot that I was unable to bear [keeping] my fingers in four or five seconds."

They saw that the spring water formed a little, deep lake, and then flowed in a little stream to the north. They went downstream about a hundred feet, thinking they would dip their feet in the warm water. "but on taking off our boots and socks we found it impossible to hold our feet in it a moment and could barely wash by dashing the water on with our hands and suddenly dipping them in and out. It is supposed this would boil an egg in about ten minutes."

[This spring, later known as Beck's Hot Springs, was later destroyed and no longer exists. It was located near the US 89 and I-15 junction. In the early days the property was owned by Richard Jones. He built a resort there serving clubs, weddings and other gatherings. There was boating, bathing, and fishing in the summer, and skating in the winter. In 1883, the property was sold to John Beck. First class hotel accomodations were provided along with private cottages. It was a very popular resort. In 1896, the hotel, swimming pool, laundry, and boiler house were destroyed by fire. The resort was rebuilt, but fire again destroyed it in 1924. There were plans to again revive the resort, but the Utah State Highway Commission notified the owners that a highway would be built there and the land was aquired by the commission in 1953.]

At 5 p.m., they returned back to the camp, four miles away. They saw that the brethren had finished planting about three acres of potatoes, peas, and beans, and were now planting four or five acres of corn. Two miles to the southeast, some of the brethren started to make a garden.

When Heber C. Kimball had returned to camp in the afternoon, he discovered that he had lost his spy glass during his hike to and from Ensign Peak. He retraced his steps and hiked all the way back up Ensign Peak but could not find it. When he came down, he saw Willard Richards and Ezra T. Benson bathing in the warm springs. He joined them and found the effects of the warm water "pleasant and beneficial." After the bath, they started back toward camp and Elder Kimball soon found his spy glass near the road.

Brigham Young directed some men to start working on a boat which would later be called "Mud Hen" and would be used to explore the Great Salt Lake.

Joseph Matthews and John Brown returned from the mountains to the west which ended up being about sixteen miles away. They found a horse near the mountain and brought it back to camp. It was believed to be a stray horse from the previous year's emigrants. The country was quite barren toward the west.

On the North Platte River, Nebraska:
With permission to travel in smaller groups of "fifties," the companies were free to depart from camp whenever they were ready. They ascended some sandy bluffs during the day, "the hardest sand hill we have found." Large numbers of Indians were seen traveling on the other side of the river. Eliza Snow, traveling back in the Grant company wrote: "Many Ind[ians] pass us with tents & baggage fasten'd to mules, horses & on drays form'd of tent poles drawn by horses, mules & dogs. Covers for the little ones made by fastening skins over bows which are fix'd to the upper side of the drays." Her company traveled into the night under the moon. They passed by the Indian camp. "Come up to the Ind[inan] tens where they come out in scores -- some shake their blankets which frightens the cattle."


  • William Clayton's Journal, p.318-23
  • Wilford Woodruff's Journal, 3:236-37
  • Watson, ed., Manuscript History of Brigham Young, 565-66
  • Howard Egan Diary, Pioneering the West, 108-09
  • Bagley, ed., The Pioneer Camp of the Saints, 238-39
  • The Historians Corner, BYU Studies, Vol. 14, No. 1, p.110
  • Salt Lake Tribune, 18 March 1910, p. 2.
  • Deseret News, August 3, 1996
  • Andrew Jenson, Encyclopedic History of the Church , p.231
  • Isaac C. Haight Journal, typescript, 45
  • Jesse W. Crosby Journal, typescript, BYU, 38
  • Beecher, ed., The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow, 187
  • Smart, ed., Mormon Midwife, The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Bartlett Sessions, 93
  • Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 16, p.114-16
  • Collected Discourses, Vol.5, Wilford Woodruff, Afternoon, August 29, 1897

Source: 150 Years Ago Today ©These materials have been created by David R. Crockett. Copies of these materials may be reproduced for teacher and classroom use. When distributing these materials, credit must be given to David R. Crockett. These materials may not be published, in whole or part, or in any other format, without the written permission of Mr. Crockett, Tucson Az, crockett@goodnet.com.