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A Look Back at Pioneer Day

Lots of people love the Days of ’47 celebration, which was started to celebrate the entry of Mormon pioneers into Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

And just like people around the world celebrate their unique place and community, Utahns have celebrated this holiday almost since the pioneers arrived.  Here are some glimpses at July 24th

1849:  During this first celebration of Mormon pioneers, members of 20 Mormon congregations marched behind their church leaders to a bowery built on what is now Temple Square.  Brigham Young then led a group to the bowery.  After a meeting there with speeches and music, the pioneers held a thanksgiving feast.

1857:  Several thousand people gathered at Brighton for the tenth anniversary of the coming of pioneers.   It was here that they learned that U.S. army soldiers were headed toward Utah.

1877:  30 years after the pioneers arrived, Utah held a “Grand Jubilee” in what they called the “new tabernacle” on Temple Square.  (The tabernacle was finished in 1867.)  Tickets cost 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children.  The program included:

  • An adult choir and children’s choir
  • A grand march led by a brass band
  • A recitation by Eliza R. Snow
  • A speech by George Q. Cannon
  • An organ solo by Joseph J. Daynes
  • A speech by Brigham Young (he died a month later, on August 29)  

1888:  Another celebration in the tabernacle had lots of music and speaking also.  This one also had a xylophone solo.  And it included a song set to the tune of the Star Spangled Banner called “Oh Saints Can You See”–about the standard of Zion flying over the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

1882: The Territorial Legislature for the first time named official holidays, including July 24 as Pioneer Day. 

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