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Celebrating the pioneer parade legacy

Published: Monday, July 25 2011 12:20 a.m. MDT

July 24, 1897 pioneers gather in front of the Tabernacle on the 50th anniversary of Brigham Young's Company entering the valley.

Utah State Historical Society

SALT LAKE CITY — The temperature is high, the bands are ready to march, the antique cars are starting up and thousands have lined the streets. It's time once again for the Days of '47 KSL 5 Parade. The original pioneers are long gone, but the memories of their accomplishments are still with us today. The first Pioneer Day parade started in 1849 and the parade's most successful years were 1897, 1947, 1996 and 1997.

Events expanded as the celebration grew. Organizers added a rodeo, horse parade, youth parade, sunrise service, concert and a queen and court to reign over the activities. Salt Lake is not the only community that celebrates the 24th, many local commemorations are held throughout Utah and the West.

Today, we once again celebrate the trek of the early pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley 164 years ago. A few pioneers came into the valley and thousands of many faiths and countries followed. Today, those few at the start have grown into just under 3 million individuals. "This is the right place, drive on," Brigham Young declared when he looked over the valley from the back of his wagon.

Before the construction of the railroad in 1869, almost 80,000 pioneers had entered the valley, experiencing the hardship of the trek and facing the harsh conditions they met in the first years of settlement.

Today, we invite you to view a few images of the various Pioneer Day parades gone by on our website. Your fathers, mothers and many grandparents lined the route of these community parades and joined in the celebration of their ancestors who immigrated here.

Elizabeth Stapley was the first child of the pioneers born in the new area called Deseret, later to be known as the Territory and then State of Utah. She was born on August 9, 1847, a little more than two weeks after the pioneers arrived. In 1923, Elizabeth was honored to sit next to First Lady and President Warren G. Harding on their visit to Utah on the way to Alaska. She was later recognized the 1936 pioneer days parade and rodeo. Utah's last living pioneer (those who came before the railroad in 1869) was Hilda Ericson. She died in 1967 at 108 years old, not that long ago for many of us, but now more than a generation ago.

We invite you to submit to us at Utahhistoryphotos@gmail.com scans of photos of past parades or events of July 24. Also if you would like to find out a little more about the importance or value of your old photograph send it to us.

EMAIL: UtahHistoryPhotos@gmail.com

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