MOUNTAIN MEADOWS (AP) Preservationists and the descendants of settlers slaughtered by Mormons and Paiute Indians here 150 years ago worry that land around the massacre site could become a hot real estate commodity.
"It has always been a pastoral site, and we don't want to see a Burger King or Blockbuster go in," said Robert Briggs of the Mountain Meadows Association, one of three groups with ties to massacre descendants.
After last month's ceremony marking the 150th anniversary of the massacre in southwestern Utah, Briggs said an association member noticed a sign off state Road 18 advertising 49 lots in the new Mountain Meadows Estate subdivision.
One landowner, Tracy Ence, said his family has no plans to develop their 10 acres and said other property owners have never shown a desire to subdivide their property.
"But," he added, "who knows about the next generation."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns a monument at the siege site and already has purchased 70 surrounding acres to act as a buffer, said Marlin Jensen, an LDS general authority.
Jensen said he supports efforts by descendant groups to obtain conservation easements near the site of another proposed monument site about a mile north where the immigrants were buried. The Mormon church also owns that site.
On Sept. 11, 1857, 120 settlers from Arkansas were tricked into laying down their arms with a promise of safe passage and then killed for reasons still not fully understood. The massacre occurred amid war hysteria as Utah Mormons prepared for an anticipated invasion by federal troops sent to deal with a defiant Mormon theocracy.