Title

“Surely This City is Bound to Shine,”: Descriptions of Salt Lake City by Western-Bound Emigrants, 1849-1868

Keywords

Mormon Studies, Salt Lake City, emigrants

Abstract

"Surely this city is bound to shine," so wrote forty-niner H. C. St. Clair of Springfield, Illinois as he passes through Slat Lake City on his way to the California gold fields. Between 1849 and 1868, thousands of emigrants passed through this desert oasis, recording their descriptions of this unique Mormon utopia and its isolated inhabitants. These two decades, when the Great Basin began to “blossom as the rose,” saw a unique period of overland emigrant travel, providing more time for observation than a hurried visit by train would allow. Some migrants stayed only a day or two, just long enough to obtain provisions or make needed repairs. This was especially true of the argonauts, from whom we have the largest number of accounts. In contrast to these short visits, some fortyniners spent the winter before pushing on to the gold fields. John D. Unruh Jr. estimates that in the mid-nineteenth century, the average length of an emigrant’s stay while passing through the famed city was about six and a half days.

Original Publication Citation

Fred E. Woods, “Surely This City is Bound to Shine,”: Descriptions of Salt Lake City by Western-Bound Emigrants, 1849-1868,” Utah Historical Quarterly 74, no. 1 (Fall 2006) 334–348.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2006

Publisher

Utah Historical Quarterly

Language

English

College

Religious Education

Department

Church History and Doctrine

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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