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The area of Deseret started huge, got smaller as it became Utah

By Ray Boren

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, April 18 2011 7:17 p.m. MDT

The Beehive House. Built from 1853 to 1855, Brigham Young's handsome stucco and adobe Beehive House features a cupola topped with a beehive, the pioneer symbol of industry and cooperation so often paired with the word "deseret." The residence, an adjoining office and the neighboring Lion House saw many distinguished visitors during its 19th-century heyday, and remains open for tours.

Fort Deseret. Besides being the name of the provisional and proposed state, Deseret became a place name. Fort Deseret, southwest of Delta and just south of the small farming community of Deseret, still stands off SR-257. Listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, Fort Deseret, a placard notes, was "built in 1866 of adobe mud by two teams of 98 men to protect the settlers during (the) Black Hawk Indian wars."

Deseret Peak. This 11,031-foot alpine summit has to be one of the more prominent landmarks still bearing the name Deseret. Topping off the Stansbury Mountains west of Tooele and Grantsville, the peak and its jagged limestone and quartzite ridge are surrounded by a rugged namesake wilderness. In the valley below is Tooele County's Deseret Peak Complex, home to rodeos, mining and firefighting museums, softball and baseball fields, horse stables and more.

Deseret National Bank. The Deseret Building, an early skyscraper dating to 1919, still stands tall on the northeast corner of Main Street and 100 South in downtown Salt Lake City, on a site long occupied by predecessor and successor banks. The Bank of Deseret was founded in 1871, with Brigham Young as its president, and, as a historic marker notes, it became nationally chartered Deseret National Bank in 1872. For many Utahns, this is First Security Bank, which operated on the corner for 68 years, before merging with Wells Fargo in 2000.

Deseret Chemical Cleaning and Dye Works. Interested in seeing how many enterprises once bore the name "Deseret"? Thumb through a Polk Business Directory from the 20th century — a predecessor of, and later a competitor to, the phone book. This image, for instance, is an ad for a dry-cleaning and clothing repair firm on West Temple Street from the 1900 Polk directory in the LDS Church Historic Library. There are many other firms listed: Deseret Brokerage & Commission Co., Deseret Gold Mine & Milling Co., Deseret Mandolin Club, Deseret Woolen Mills. The 1920 directory also lists Deseret Oil & Refining Co., Deseret Furniture Co. — and, of course, a few businesses still among us.

Deseret Book. With window panels that reflect the seasons of Temple Square across South Temple, Deseret Book Co.'s headquarters building has become an element of the two-block City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City. A book publisher that operates a chain of more than 30 stores, Deseret Book is a 20th-century offshoot of the predecessor Deseret News Bookstore and the Deseret Sunday School Union bookstore. It is one of several companies and organizations with LDS Church links still featuring the name Deseret, from Deseret Mutual (or Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators) to the Deseret Management Corp., which oversees several for-profit enterprises, including Deseret Media Companies, Deseret Digital Media and, of course, Deseret News and Deseret Book.

Beehives. Besides sitting atop Brigham Young's Beehive House, Deseret's symbolic beehive is everywhere to be found in modern Utah. Here it is evocatively featured in a frosted window of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building's Nauvoo Cafe. An even more impressive hive tops this beautiful building, the former Hotel Utah. Beehives continue to be a favorite image in Utah folk art, and other examples can be found, from the state flag to one side of the old Chase Mill in Liberty Park.

Deseret Industries. Like the international Goodwill Industries, Deseret Industries is a revered charitable institution in Utah and beyond. The LDS Church-sponsored effort operates 46 thrift stores in seven Western states, its Web site notes, offering employment, vocational rehabilitation training and a focus for those wishing to donate goods and time.

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