11 Not-so Secret Salt Lake Secrets – Salt Lake Magazine

Salt Lake is a city built on secrets. Its origin tale is wrapped up with the “Bible 2.0” Exodus of Brigham Young and his followers, the Latter-day Saints, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (officially) or the Mormons (colloquially and historically). The Mormons first arrived here in the Great Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, after a long and insanely dangerous trek from Nauvoo, Ill. Why? Well. The Mormons fled Nauvoo after a mob murdered their founder Joseph Smith outside of the jail in Carthage, Ill. But why stop here? This is just two years before the 1849 gold rush in California. Why not carry on to the coast and get in on the action? Brigham wanted no part of it. His plan was to find a home for the Saints far away from, well, anywhere. And back then, while the blank-ish spot on the map that would eventually become Utah was not nowhere, it was also, paradoxically, not anywhere. Technically it was Mexican territory, but the Mexican-American War was about to get underway and much bigger dogs than Brigham and his rag-tag band of Mormons were squaring off for a fight. Brigham wanted his followers to be left alone to practice the LDS faith and, yep it gets weird, to establish a short-lived autonomous nation called the Kingdom of Deseret (which got as far as developing its own language and currency, BTW). It is, as we say around here, a heck of a story.