Building Zion:

Mormon Pioneers and the Founding of Utah

It was a 19th Century version of the Exodus story: following persecution, violence, and the murder of their founder Joseph Smith, the believers of the newly organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints saw no choice but to flee civilization. After a trek of thousands of miles, crossing the harsh mountains and deserts of the American West, the Mormon pioneers entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24th, 1847. Looking over the barren, dry desert, Brigham Young declared, “This is the right place” – the place that would provide the Mormons with sanctuary at last. As leaders of the church, this remote Utah territory offers delegates the opportunity to build the ideal Mormon society from the ground up. But the task will not be easy: radical factions of the church, warring Native Americans, and a meddling federal government lurk at every turn. Will Utah prove to be the Promised Land – or will the forces of the desert and religious fervor prove to deadly?

Grayson Dimick
Stanislaw Banach
Crisis Director