- SALT LAKE CITY and ENVIRONS Part 2 -


   LINKS to other pages in this site and to other sites in the Travelling Days series:

Utah Home Page:      Arches National Park:      Canyonlands:
Monument Valley:      Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake Part 1:  
Moab and the Colorado River:      Canyonlands:      Utah Miscellany:      
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Although most early pioneers travelled west using covered wagons and teams of oxen, there were many who couldn't afford such travelling accommodations. The less expensive handcart, much like a large shallow wheelbarrow, allowed the poorer pioneers to make the journey west.

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The history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comes alive in the Museum of Church History and Art through exhibits about migration, settlements, and the people who have served the church from 1830 to the present day.

The picture (below) shows a replica of the large 'handcart' sculpture situated close to the Assembly Hall. Because travel was more difficult with a handcart, it became a familiar symbol of dedication and duty to God. Leaving late in the summer, the migrants risked bad weather, exposure, and even death, in order to unite with the main body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.




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A glimpse of Salt Lake City's past may be caught in the Deuel Pioneer Log Cabin, located between the Museum of Church History and Art and the Family History Library. The cabin is typical of many of the homes built in the Great Salt Lake Valley during the 1840s and 50s.

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A view from the library of the Church of Latter-day Saints of Temple Square. The domed roof of the Mormon Tabernacle is on the right. Construction on the Tabernacle began in 1863 and ended in 1875. The exterior of the completed building is 150 feet wide, 250 feet long, and 80 feet high.

    Henry Grow's bridge-building technique enabled the Tabernacle roof structure to span the 150-foot width without center supports. Meetings and concerts are still held in this historic building.

    The impressive Tabernacle organ was built by Joseph Harris Ridges. Suitable timber for the case was brought by volunteers from the Parowan and Pine Valley Mountains, three hundred miles south of Salt Lake City. In later years the organ has been rebuilt, electrified, and enlarged to house its current 11,623 pipes.

    On the westward trek across the American continent singing hymns around the campfire became a nightly custom of the pioneers. One of these hymns, "Come, Come, Ye Saints" by William Clayton' retains an exalted place in the repertoire of the Tabernacle Choir. A choir was officially formed in August 1847, one month after the pioneers entered the valley, and has since grown to be one of the world's most respected musical organizations.

    The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has gained numerous awards, including a Grammy for its rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", five gold records and one platinum record. The choir has appeared at five presidential inaugurations, in several films, and has performed with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of London, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and the Utah Symphony.

    Since making its first gramophone (phonograph) record in 1910 the choir has produced more than 150 recordings. The choir's first network radio program was transmitted on July 15, 1929. The choir's "Music and the Spoken Word" is now the oldest continuous nationwide network broadcast (on both radio and television) in America.

    The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is comprised of 325 men and women. For many, choir membership is a family tradition. There are husband-wife combinations and many families boast two or more generations of choir membership. Choir members do not receive any monetary compensation for their performances.

    Visitors can hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at free performances inside the Tabernacle on Temple Square. A performance each Thursday from 8 to 9:30 p.m. is a rehearsal open to the public. On Sundays, the broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word" begins at 9:30 a.m. - the audience must be seated by 9:15 a.m. to avoid interrupting the broadcast.

    (The photos below and top, and parts of the text above, with acknowledgement to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)

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Brigham Young, community leader and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, viewed a planned transcontinental rail line with interest. He was aware of the role that a railroad could play in uniting the community as well as connecting the region with the outside world. After representatives of both the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific had met with him and explained the difficulty and extra expense of aligning a route through Salt Lake City, Young accepted the decision but helped as much as he could to hasten the completion of the project, including arranging for the use of local contractors in the construction of the tracks across the territory.

    Work on the transcontinental route started in 1863 with the Union Pacific section coming from Omaha, Nebraska in the east and the Central Pacific Railroad from Sacramento (California). The two systems met at Promontory Summit to the north-east of Salt Lake City on 10 May 1869 the event being celebrated by the driving of golden spikes to fix the last section of rail.

   In 1903 this part of the route was diverted but two miles of the original railroad bed at this historic site have been preserved. New rails have been laid and replicas of the two steam locomotives from east and west that met here in 1869 continue to entertain visitors to the site. The station at Salt Lake City has a plaque in the forecourt which also commemorates the events of 1869.

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