Today is Pioneer Day for all Latter-Day Saints. It is also a state holiday in Utah. There is usually a big parade in Salt Lake City. (You can watch the parade on BYU TV if you get that channel.)
Pioneer Day is the day the first Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. The first company (all wagon trains were organized into groups called 'companies') consisted of 143 men chosen on the basis of ability and need. There were blacksmiths, wagon makers, carpenters, millwrights, stonemasons, hunters and surveyors. All of them had farming skills. The purpose of the first company was to determine the best trail west and plant crops so there would be food enough for everyone who followed.
One of the characteristics of the land was the fact that it was isolated. This was what the Church was looking for so they could be left alone to build a community and establish the city of Zion.
For anyone who has been to Salt Lake City, you also know how dry it is there. The Saints had to dig irrigation ditches to get the water to the crops. By 1850 the Saints had irrigated over 16,000 acres of land yielding over 120,000 bushels of grain and 45,000 bushels of potatoes. The President of the Church at the time was Brigham Young and it was his skills as a logistician that made it possible for Salt Lake City to grow and prosper!
Happy Pioneer Day to you!
Most of this information was taken from the pamphlet, The Mormon Legacy: In the History of the American West. If you would like to read this pamphlet or learn more information about the Mormon migration west, you can do that here.