Salt Lake City

We always try to take a bus or trolley tour when we are in a new area. So, on Saturday we embarked on the Ultimate Salt Lake City + Tabernacle Tour.

We met the tour bus at a local hotel that provided free parking for us while we were on the tour. Our tour guide, Wynn, was right on time, our group was the first to board, so we got the best seats, and after four more hotel stops, we were on our way.

Salt Lake City is bordered on the west by the Great Salt Lake, and on the east by the Wasatch Range. The Wasatch Range runs about 160 miles from the Utah-Idaho border south to central Utah. It is the western edge of the greater Rocky Mountains, and the eastern edge of the Great Basin Region.

The City was founded in 1847 by followers of the LDS church led by Brigham Young who were seeking to escape persecution that they had experienced when they lived in the east. Salt Lake City’s streets are based on a north-south east-west grid system with the Temple constructed at the grid’s starting point. 

Our first stop on the tour was uphill to the campus of the University of Utah for a view of the city.

We then traveled through Fort Douglas which was established in 1862 during the Civil War to protect the pony express mail route telegraph lines along the central overland route. The fort was closed in 1991 and turned over to the University for student housing. A small section is still used by the Army Reserve, and it was designated as a National Landmark in 1975.

We then traveled over to Heritage Park passing the Pony Express Station and monument,

the Mormon Battalion Monument,

on our way to the “This is the Place” Monument. It is here at the mouth of Emigration Canyon that Brigham Young said the famous statement that the LDS pioneers should settle in the Salt Lake Valley.

Heading back down the hill we passed by the 7-11 that Wynn said was made famous when the pioneers stopped to water their horses and grab a Slurpee. I wish I was able to get a photo. Maybe next time. 

We then drove past the University’s Rice-Eccles Stadium. The site of the opening, and closing, ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

We then went to Temple Square, the place that most people come to Salt Lake City to see. However, before going into the square, we stopped in for a quick trip up to the tenth-floor observation deck of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. A place to get a great photo of the temple.

The memorial building was once the Hotel Utah and was known as the Grande Dame of hotels in the intermountain west, and for most of the 20th century hosted Utah’s most distinguished guests. In 1987 the LDS church closed the hotel and renovated it to house church offices, meeting spaces and restaurants.

After the quick ride up and down the elevator, we walked into Temple Square to the Tabernacle to listen to the organ recital. The organ is massive with 11,623 pipes.

Outside of the tabernacle is the Seagull Monument which was built in remembrance of and gratitude to God for sending the seagulls that saved the early Saints from a plague of crickets.

The Handcart Monument which was built as a tribute to the handcart pioneers, who trekked 1,350 miles from Iowa City to Salt Lake City. 

And the Assembly Hall which was constructed of left-over granite from the building of the Temple in 1880.

After a quick lunch of chicken pot pie at the Lion House Pantry, I was able to walk over to the Eagle Gate; the entrance to Brigham Young’s farm. 

Next to the gate is the Bee-Hive House, which was erected in 1852 by Young as the official residence and was occupied by him until his death in 1877. From 1852 to 1855 it also served as the Executive Mansion of Governor Brigham Young of the Territory of Utah. The bee hive is the state emblem signifying industry.

Next to the Bee-Hive House, is Young’s office and reception area for official visitors.

And next door to the office is the Lion House. It takes its name from the carved lion on top of the front portico and was built for Young’s wives  (16 of 55) and children (56). One of Young’s most notable decedents is the great-great-great grandson, quarterback of the San Francisco 49’ers, Steve Young.

Our last stop on the tour was the Utah State Capitol, a massive granite and marble building that houses the state’s legislative chambers and ceremonial supreme court.

Under the central dome are four large paintings that illustrate the first non-native people known to have explored the territory that would become Utah.

Capitol Dome
Father Escalante Discovers Utah Lake
Fremont First Sees Great Salt Lake
Peter Skene Ogden at Ogden River
Brigham Young and Pioneers Entering the Valley

Outside is another Mormon Battalion Monument with the Wasatch Range as a backdrop.

It was a fantastic tour and we learned a lot about the history of Salt Lake City.

Tomorrow we plan of driving over to see the Great Salt Lake and check out the home of the free-range bison, antelope, and other animals of Antelope Island State Park.

Should be a lot of fun.

Until then.