Visiting a notable monument or legendary landmark to learn its story can bring a historic event to life.
That's one of the main points of a 2014 LDS Church history article titled "Why Historic Sites?"
"Seeing the landscapes where key experiences unfolded can cultivate a deep sense of gratitude in those of us whose lives have been changed and blessed by the restoration," the article reads. "These sites can help open our eyes to the beauties of the principles of salvation and motivate us to embrace them with our whole hearts."
For families who are interested in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and who are traveling in Utah this summer, there are several points of Mormon historical significance in the central and southern parts of the Beehive State, including prominent pioneer graves, homes and buildings. The following list features 12 sites to consider visiting.
LDS Church apostle Orson Hyde, remembered for his journey to Jerusalem to dedicate the Holy Land for the return of the Jews, lived out his final days in the central Utah town of Spring City in Sanpete County. He died there in 1878 and was buried in the local cemetery. His headstone reads: "Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, defender of truth, preacher of righteousness."
In addition to Elder Hyde's final resting place, there are several restored pioneer-era homes around Spring City, including one that belonged to the early Mormon leader. Tour information is available at sanpete.com.
Manti is less than 20 miles south of Spring City. It is home to the Manti Utah Temple, which was the third LDS temple built in Utah, as well as the annual summer event "The Mormon Miracle Pageant." This year marks the pageant's 50th anniversary.
Travelers who need to stop and stretch their legs can relax in the Pioneer Heritage Center and Gardens across the street from the Manti Temple. The park features benches, walkways, signs recounting the history of the temple and area, and statues of historical figures.
The city cemetery is a short distance north of the park. Among those buried there are early LDS Church convert Isaac Morley and William Fowler, author of the hymn "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet."
Continuing south into Millard County, travelers can find Cove Fort, which is located near Interstate 15's junction with Interstate 70. Ira Hinckley, grandfather of late LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, started building the fort in 1867 with tall, thick rock walls for protection from the elements and possible Native American hostilities. The 12-room home became a welcome haven for travelers needing rest and recuperation.
LDS senior missionaries offer tours of the fort from 9 a.m. to dusk. For more information, visit history.lds.org.
About 20 miles west of Beaver, the grave of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner can be found in the Minersville Cemetery. Church history remembers Mary Elizabeth and her sister Caroline for helping to save pages from the manuscript of the Book of Commandments when a mob was destroying the printing press in Independence, Missouri. Later in life, Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner and her husband settled in Minersville, Beaver County, where she died in 1913, according to a biographical sketch in "Women of Faith in the Latter Days: Vol. 1."
The statue of a pioneer woman stands on the southeastern end of the Southern Utah University campus. Her name is Ellen Pucell "Nellie" Unthank. While crossing the plains, Unthank lost both of her feet to frostbite. Despite her disability, poverty and pain, she married, raised six children and remained a faithful member of the LDS Church, according to a 1986 LDS Church magazine article.
The life-size statue and monument depicts Unthank as a girl before she lost her legs. The monument was dedicated by President Hinckley in 1991, according to the LDS Church News.
Various monuments mark the general location of the Mountain Meadows Massacre just off Highway 18, a short drive south from Enterprise. One monument, located a short hike up a hill from the parking lot, offers a panoramic view of the valley where more than 50 local militiamen, along with Paiute Indians, massacred about 120 emigrants from Arkansas in 1857, according to a 2007 LDS Church magazine article.
In 1999, President Hinckley dedicated a monument in honor of the victims at the gravesite about a mile west of Highway 18, according to the LDS Church News.
The LDS Pine Valley Chapel, built in 1868 by shipbuilder Ebenezer Bryce, is hidden away in a picturesque valley east of Highway 18. It is one of the oldest buildings still in use today by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to information at the site. The two-story structure has an interior like an upside-down ship, according to multiple histories.
For tour information, visit the LDS Church's Pine Valley Facebook page.
Brigham Young, second president of the LDS Church, built a winter home in St. George in the early 1870s because he liked the mild winter weather, according to information provided during a tour of the home. The early church leader spent four winters in the home prior to his death in 1877. The two-story home, made of adobe, plaster and rock, includes colors and some of President Young’s furniture, according to the tour. The home is located at 200 North and 100 West in St. George. To schedule a tour, visit LDS.org.
The St. George Utah Temple, with its gleaming white exterior, was the first temple dedicated in Utah, in 1877. One of the items on display in the Visitors' Center is an old cannon. In order to create a sure foundation in the soft ground, workers hauled tons of black volcanic rock to the site and used a pulley system to lift the lead-filled cannon and smash it down on the rock, according to information at the Visitors' Center.
The temple's tower and dome were destroyed by a lighting bolt in 1878 and were rebuilt to taller specifications, according to "Temples of the New Millennium" by Chad Hawkins.
The temple and Visitors' Center are located at 490 S. 300 East.
With its red brick exterior and towering white spire, the St. George Tabernacle is said to be a "jewel in the desert" and a symbol of the town's pioneer beginnings, according to LDS.org. The pioneer building features a balcony, spiral staircases and the opportunity to stand behind the pulpit where President Lorenzo Snow received a revelation about tithing, according to information given on a tour. Outside the building stands a statue of Erastus Fairbanks Snow, the founder of St. George. Tours are available daily.
The Jacob Hamblin residence is in Santa Clara, a short drive from historic downtown St. George. Hamblin (1819-1886) was a pioneer explorer, a missionary and a friend of the Indians. The two-story home was restored to its original appearance in 1959, and a tour of it shares what pioneer life was like in southern Utah. Tour information is available on LDS.org.
Those passing through the Four Corners area may pay a visit to Bluff Fort. Mormon pioneers arrived through the "Hole in the Rock" and settled the area, which is also home to impressive Native American rock art and cliff dwellings, in 1880. The fort is staffed by LDS Church service missionary couples and includes a co-op store/visitors center and replica cabins with pioneer-era artifacts, according to LDS Church News. The fort was dedicated in 2013 and is open during the tourist season, typically March through October.