President Young believed a canal could be built to float blocks to the building site. But after spending 10 years building a canal from Big Cottonwood Canyon to City Creek, the pioneer builders were stymied by an alluvial fan at the base of Parley's Canyon that sucked up large amounts of water, interrupting the flow.
The next break came with the building of the Wasatch and Jordan Valley narrow gauge railroad, which eventually went seven miles up the canyon, Smith said. Built by non-church interests that were interested in bringing silver ore out of the mountains, it served the needs of temple-building nicely. It took just four hours to bring a block to the temple site, Smith said. Some 60,000 pounds of granite made the trip, and a photo from the era shows hundreds of white humps of stone and dozens of workers breaking it into usable building blocks.?
"The railroad changed everything," he said. The long delays in temple-building actually were blessings, Smith said, because of the technological advances of the late 19th century.
Besides the regular workers assigned to build the temple, hundreds of priesthood members were called on. Some were expected to "tithe" their time to help in the work.
Another bit of good luck came from the much-despised U.S. Army fort in Cedar Valley. The arrival of the U.S. troops in the mid-1850s was one of the disturbing events in Utah Territory history. Fearing there could be an all-out confrontation, church leaders had the budding temple buried to protect it from the enemy. There was no direct confrontation, and the Saints ultimately benefited when the Army unit was pulled back east to fight in the Civil War. The church acquired a large number of wagons that were used to transport granite blocks.
A day before the 1893 temple dedication, church leaders invited some 5,000 non-LDS residents of the area to tour the building. Their reports were unanimously positive, Smith said, even though many had been vocal enemies of the church.
"Brigham Young wanted a temple that would stand until the millennium," said Smith. "He got one."
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