Southern Utah Expedition of 1849
Realizing the limited resources for pioneer settlement in the Salt Lake
Valley and surrounding settlements in 1849, and the potential of many
more immigrants arriving in the next few years, Brigham young began to
search out possible new settlements. Based on reports of Jefferson Hunt,
who had traveled through southern Utah in 1847 and 1848, one of the
regions which seemed promising was the valleys along the Spanish Trail
in southern Utah Territory. The November legislature autorhized the
establishment of the Southern Expedition to investigate such possibilities.
The exploring party, which eventually consisted of fifty-five men, was led
by Mormon Apostle Parley P. Pratt. This expedition and its subsequent
report helped influence the creation of dozens of new communities in
southern Utah. Among the first were the settlements of Parowan and Cedar
City in 1851, in what would become Iron County. This is one of four
monuments which tell the story of this historic expedition. They are located at Iron Springs, Parowan Gap, Parowan, and Fremont Canyon.
"God's Own House" - Parowan Gap
One of the most interesting discoveries of the Souther Utah
Expedition was the petroglyphs in the Parowan Gap. On Christmas Day in
1849, the Pratt party divided into two groups. Pratt led an exploring party
south over the Black Ridge and the rim of the Great Basin towards
present-day St. George. His group returned to Parowan by way of the
Spanish Trail through Mountain Meadows and Iron Springs on January 8
and January 9, 1850. While Pratt was gone, the second group, under the
leadership of David Fullmer camped at Parowan and explored the
canyons surrounding the Valley of the Little Salt Lake, which is just east
of Parowan Gap.
The Parowan Gap petroglyphs were discovered by the Fullmer group,
Robert Campbell, clerk and historian of the expedition, copied some of the
petroglyphs onto the last two pages of his journal. The members of the
Southern Utah Expedition were the first to report on their existence, but
others had porbably seen them before. The expedition had a difficult
journey home due to freezing January snowstorms. Pratt arrived in Provo
ahead of the main company and sent help to his weary and cold
companions. He arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on January 31, 1850.
The rest of his party did not get there until mid-February. Pratt told
Brigham Young and the territorial legislature in his expedition report that
Chief Walker, a Ute Indian, said Parowan Gap was "God's Own House"
Erected - Cedar City Utah West Stake Young Men and Women - 1997
Utah Pioneer Sesquicentennial Celebration Monument
Utah Pioneer Sesquicentennial Celebration Coordinating Council