This Is The Place
Videographer: James Dalrymple
Speaker: Steven C. Harper
A monument stands above the Salt Lake Valley at the mouth of Emigration Canyon. The three bronze figures at the top of the monument, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and Wilford Woodruff, represent the faith and fortitude that carried thousands to this valley in 1847. The monument marks the end of a historic 1200-mile journey from Winter Quarters, Nebraska to a new home where they hoped they would be able to live according to the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the covenants they had made with God.
Their first view of the Valley as described in Wilford Woodruff’s journal was recorded on July 24th, 1847. He wrote: “This is an important day in the History of my life and the History of the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints. On this important day . . . we came in full view of the . . . land of promise held in reserve by the hand of GOD for a resting place for the Saints upon which a portion of the Zion of GOD will be built. We gazed with wonder and admiration upon the vast rich fertile valley which lay for about 25 miles in length & 16 miles in width Clothed with the Heaviest garb of green vegetation in the midst of which lay a large lake of Salt water . . . Our hearts were surely made glad after A Hard Journey from winter Quarters of 1,200 miles . . . to gaze upon A valley of such vast extent entirely Surrounded with a perfect chain of everlasting hills & mountains Coverd with eternal snow with there inumerable peaks like Pyramids towering towards Heaven . . . President Young expressed his full satisfaction in the Appearance of the valley as A resting place for the Saints . . .”
Wilford, Heber, and Brigham led the first pioneer company who left Winter Quarters on April 7, 1847. The first members of the company entered the Valley on July 21st and on July 24th Wilford with the second wagon train driving his carriage where he had made a bed to transport a feverishly ill Brigham Young. It was from Wilford’s carriage that Brigham first saw the Salt Lake Valley and spoke the words the monument is named after: “This is the Place.”
Wilford recalled that moment on many occasions, stating “I brought President Young in my carriage into the valley of Salt Lake. He was sick, and he asked me to turn my carriage so that he could get sight of the valley. . . . He . . . looked for some little time. When he got through he said, "Brother Woodruff, drive on. Here is our home. This is the place God has pointed out for us to plant our feet.” At one Pioneer Day celebration in 1888, Wilford reminded the Saints that Brigham had seen the Valley in a vision before they arrived and shared his conviction with Wilford that, “In this valley will be built the City of the Saints and the Temple of our God."
The prophesy recorded by Isaiah would be fulfilled through the light of the Gospel as restored through the prophet Joseph Smith: in the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house has been established in the top of the mountains, and all nations flow unto it. The Ensign these pioneers established, the standard they set, is for us to follow as we participate in the ongoing Restoration.
Isaiah’s plea to the house of Israel echoes through the millennia, “let us go up to mountain of the Lord, the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: . . . let us walk in walk in the light of the Lord.”