I came to Salt Lake City because my great-great-grandfather Otto decided to visit the city on his way back from Bozeman to New York City in February 1882 [Read here]. He also describes seeing the Devil’s Slide and the 1000 Mile Tree in the Weber Canyon (located between Salt Lake City and Ogden), which we drove to from Salt Lake City.
Visiting the Temple Square
After the beautiful trainride from Denver, I was eager to visit the places my great-great-grandfather had visited – the Tabernacle and the Mormon Temple – both located at the historic Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. On a beautiful Sunday, my friends Katie and Phil and I went downtown – me wearing my historic dress of course.
It was absolutely great to see the buildings for the first time and we immediately started taking some pictures. So did the (other) tourists. They would just stand next to Katie (who was taking my picture) and take the same one of me – how practical! Phil made sure these people taking pictures (without asking of course) would get my little business card so they knew at least what was going on. Soon, we had Katie titled as the director of photography and Phil was the marketing manager. It was alot of fun!
When we came close to the Tabernacle we heard surprisingly some singing from inside. We went inside – and suddenly I stood in a building my great-great-grandfather had stood in 134 years ago it was mind-blowing and my body was filled with music. The acoustics in the tabernacle are so amazing (Otto describes this phenomenon already), that the voices of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir just immediately got me. We sat down and listened devotional to the beautiful singing.
Visiting the Devil’s Slide and the 1000 Mile Tree
Later during the day we drove north to the Weber Canyon. Otto passed through here when he left Ogden eastbound and mentions the Devil’s Slide and the 1000 Mile tree. Even more interesting: these two natural sights have fascinated him so much that he even sketched them! We drove up to the canyon and soon we saw the 1000 Mile Tree on the other side of the river to our right, but unfortunately we could not stop there, only a few minutes later, we saw the Devil’s slide on the left side, and we were able to stop at the small scenic viewpoint at the side of the road. It was absolutely fascinating for me to see the places my great-great-grandfahter had sketched. I would have never come here without his diary, and now a weird rock formation meant the world to me. I sketched the Devil’s Slide aswell and went back with the feeling of a fulfilled mission and a drawing that had come to life for me.
Research at the Daugthers of the Utah Pioneers Museum
Phil had the idea to go researching in the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum – which turned out to be a true gold mine. In the history department we talked to the wonderful ladies who helped Phil find a hand written diary of his great-grand mother (can you believ it?). I had asked them about the Walker House and the Valley House – the two hotels that Otto mentions – but they had not heard about them. However, they did give me the file about hotels in Salt Lake City, and after about 5 minutes I had the pictures of both hotels in my hands – anoher moment when the stories of my great-great-grandfather came to life. In the photo department, a picture of Salt Lake City from 1882 was available – this showed how Otto had seen the city – absolutely fascinating to me.
Ensign Peak & Antelope Island
A great start of a day in Salt Lake City is the short hike up to Ensign Peak, where one has a wonderful view of the city and the Wasatch Mountains. Getting out of the city and into beautiul nature ist just a short ride away to the Antelope Island – I saw my very first bison in America here!
After visiting the public rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Thursday night – absolutely wonderful – I headed north to Dillon by bus on the next morning, where I was picked up and reached Virginia City in Montana finally at night.
Special thanks to my host Phil!