July 24: Celebrating Pioneer Day (Utah)

Utah will celebrate Pioneer Day this Saturday.  It is a state holiday in Utah and celebrated each year on July 24 to commemorate the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into Utah’s Salt Lake Valley in the year 1847.  Pioneer Day remembers and celebrates the bravery of these pioneers and their strength of character and physical endurance.

Mormon pioneer families migrating west.

Interestingly, the Mormon pioneers viewed their arrival as the founding of a “Mormon homeland,” hence Pioneer Day.  The Mormons, as they were commonly known, left various settlements and journeyed west seeking refuge from religious persecution.

Determined to settle in an isolated region, the pioneers made their way across the plains and then over the Rocky Mountains to Utah.  During their trek, they lost many to illnesses during the harsh winter months.  By the time that they reached Utah, the desolate valley was a welcoming sight.

"Entering the Great Salt Lake Valley" by C.C.A. Christensen.

Soon after their arrival and with solemn ceremonies, the settlers consecrated the two-square-mile city, and sent back word that the “promised land” was found.  By the end of the year 1847, nearly 2,000 Mormons settled in the Salt Lake Valley.

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