After being driven from their former Illinois home Young and his devoted Mormon followers struck out West to find a place where their way of life would not be persecuted. In 1847 Young came upon to the wide desert basin that would come to be known as the Salt Lake Valley. Young reportedly looked out over the untamed land and actually uttered the words, “This is the place.” And with that the settling of Salt Lake City began.
This pivotal moment is remembered with a tall stone tower that is crowned with bronze figures of Young and his fellow pioneering church leaders. The monument also honors trappers, explorers, and other Western trailblazers with smaller bronze reliefs on the sides of the tower.
There is also a small dedication to the ill-fated Donner Party, a group of non-Mormon pioneers going to California that were forced to resort to cannibalism when trapped by winter snows in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Donner Party in fact pioneered the wagon trail through the treacherous Wasatch Mountains to the Salt Lake Valley, which Young’s group followed the next year to find “the place.”
Regardless of one’s feelings on the Mormon Church, the This Is The Place Monument does honor a group of pioneers without whom Salt Lake City would not be the same.