The first company of Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley at the end of July 1847, blazing — and sometimes quite literally building — the trail for thousands of pioneers to follow.
Many of the pioneers who came to Salt Lake recorded their first impressions of the area in journals and personal histories, noting (among other things) the "many great black crickets," "the Great Salt Lake glittering in the sun in the distance," the "many mosquitos," and the thick grass, beautiful streams, hot springs and serious lack of timber.
See the Salt Lake Valley through the eyes of the pioneers who entered it on July 24, 1847, as well as the pioneers who came before and followed after.
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"I am going to stop right here. I am going to build a city here. I am going to build a temple here, and I am going to build up a country here.'"
— Brigham Young to Samuel Brannan
"After issuing from the mountains among which we had been shut up for many days, and beholding in a moment such an extensive scenery open before us, we could not refrain from a shout of joy which almost involuntarily escaped from our lips the moment this grand and lovely scenery was within our view."
— Orson Pratt
"Thus ends this long and tedious journey from the lands of our enemies, and I feel free and happy that I have escaped from their midst. But there is many a desolate and sandy plain to cross, many a rugged sage bed to break through, any a hill and hollow to tug over and many a mountain and canyon to pass, and many frosty nights to endure in mid-summer."
— Hosea Stout
"We had to pass through a canyon that was full of timber, mostly maple of a small growth, and the mountains came almost together at the bottom. But when we got through, it seemed like bursting from the confines of a prison. We came (in) full view of the S.E. part of the Great Salt Lake that we had been so long looking for."
— Levi Jackman
"I must say the hardships and privations of that journey were a pleasure to me. We felt willing to brave danger and deny ourselves of the pleasures and comforts of civilization if it was possible that we might find or gain a resting place where we could worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience in peace."
— Jacob Weiler
"As we landed on the summit, the highest peak in sight, it was the grandest view a mortal ever beheld. The air was clear, and perfect for the view. The great Salt Lake glittered under the suns rays. Range after range of mountains in every direction. The great desert to the west, and Utah Lake in the southeast and the mountains beyond. A more sublime view was seldom seen from a mountain top."
— Abner Blackburn
"July 24, 1847 — This is an important day in the history of my life and the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On this important day after trav[eling] from our encampment 6 miles through the deep ravine, valley, ending with the canyon through last creek, we came in full view of the great valley or Basin [of] the Salt Lake and land of promise, held in reserve by the hand of God for a resting place for the Saints upon which a portion of the Zion of God will be built."
— Wilford Woodruff
"We arrived on a beautiful table of 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."
— William Clayton
(We) came in full view of the Salt Lake in the distance, with its bold hills on its islands towering up in bold relief behind the silvery lake—a very extensive valley burst upon our view, dotted in 3 or 4 places with timber. I should expect the valley to be about 30 miles long and 20 miles wide. I could not help shouting, "Hurra, hurra, hurra, here's my home at last.'"
— Thomas Bullock
"We have traveled fifteen hundred miles to get here, and I would willingly travel a thousand miles farther."
— Harriet Young
‘It is enough. This is the right place. Drive on!’”
— Brigham Young
"We have here mild summer weather, a serene atmosphere, a most beautiful clear sky, with an excessive dry climate and arid soil. If it could receive timely rains, it would be one of the most beautiful, fertile regions on the face of the earth."
— Norton Jacob
"When I came along with my parents, 10 weeks later, and came to this same spot, and everybody, of course, got up on the hill here to view the valley, it struck me that this was not the place—and if I had been a man, I don't know whether I would have had the courage to say: "We will stay here this winter." But that was not the case, as a rule, with the great band of pioneers."
— W.W. Riter
"For my own part I am happily disappointed in the appearance of the valley of the Salt Lake, but if the land be as rich as it has the appearance of being, I have no fears but the Saints can live here and do well while we will do right."
— William Clayton
"Our hearts were surely made glad after a hard journey from Winter Quarters of 1,200 miles through flats of Platt Rivers, steeps of the Black Hills and the Rocky Mountains and burning sands of the eternal sage regions and willow swails and Rocky Canyons and stubs and stones, to gaze upon a valley of such vast extent entirely surrounded with a perfect chain of everlasting hills and mountains covered with eternal snow with (their) innumerable peaks like pyramids towering towards Heaven, presenting at one view the grandest and most sublime scenery probably that could be obtained on the globe."
— Wilford Woodruff
"My heart felt truly glad, and I rejoiced at having the privilege of beholding this extensive and beautiful valley that may yet become a home for the Saints."
— Major Howard Egan
"This is a good place to make Saints, and it is a good place for Saints to live. It is the place the Lord has appointed, and we shall stay here until He tells us to go somewhere else."
— Brigham Young
"We looked over the valley — there was not a house to be seen nor anything to make one of, but we was glad to see a resting place and felt to thank God for the sight."
— Robert Gardner
"Then we pulled thro' to the top of the mountain; on reaching the summit and again seeing the valley my soul could not refrain crying out, 'Hosanna to God and the Lamb for ever, Amen.'"
— Thomas Bullock
"It has its hideousness, it has its beauty, nor are they separated in the depths of any mind that has known them. A hard, resistant folk had found a hard, resistant land, and they would grow to fit one another."
— Bernard DeVoto