government, valley, california, pioneers, lake, salt, irrigation and mountains

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

The earliest of these settlements formed the nucleus of the inter-mountain empire. To the founders of this Commonwealth, more than to any other people, owing to their unity, com munal spirit and systematic methods is due the redemption of arid America. They were the Anglo-Saxon pioneers of irrigation. President Theodore Roosevelt, in a public speech deliv ered at Salt Lake City in May 1903, credited Utah with being the Gamaliel at whose feet the Federal government had learned valuable, prac tical lessons before passing the National Irri gation Law of 1902, by which the government proposed to co-operate with the people of the Rocky Mountain and Plain States in extending and building up a system of irrigated agricul ture. The first fruits of that enactment, in this State, was the completion, in May 1916, of the Strawberry Valley Reservoir and Canal, which tunnels the Wasatch Mountains and brings upon many thousands of dry acres in Utah Valley the waters impounded for this purpose eastward of that rocky range. Since 1847 over $20,000,000 have been expended upon the principal irrigation enterprises; 500 reser voirs have been built, 6,000 miles of main canals constructed and 2,000 miles of laterals.

As early as 1832 a few American emigrants had settled in Oregon, which then included Washington, Idaho and other parts, and was claimed both by Great Britain and the United States. A little later a thin stream of emigra tion began crossing the country from the Mis souri River to California, then a Mexican prov ince including the present States of California, Nevada and Utah. But none of those emigrants settled here. All shunned the desolate valley by the lake and hurried on to the green and fer tile slopes of the Pacific. The Utah pioneers might have done likewise, had not their saga cious leader foreseen the very probable result — a repetition of the troubles they had fled from in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. Hence his re fusal to be influenced by one of his prominent lieutenants — Samuel Brannan, who, after pilot ing a ship's company of Latter-day Saints from New York around Cape Horn and to the Bay of San Francisco, and leaving them to plow and sow, build adobe houses and set up a newspaper in the San Joaquin Valley, came overland to meet the pioneers and persuade them, if possi ble, to forego their half-formed design of lo cating in the desert basin, and instead to join the Brannan colony on the California Coast. allo,)) said Brigham Young, °this is the place' Here, accordingly, they settled — here upon alien soil, the acquisition of which by the United States was an immediate result of the Mexican War, in which the Mormon battalion participated.

The pioneers planted their first crops im mediately upon entering Salt Lake Valley. The ground was parched and burning and more than one plowshare was broken in the hard sun baked soil, afterward softened and made arable by turning upon it the waters of the mountain streams. They also constructed a log and mud fort, as a means of protection against hostile Indians. This done, most of the leading men returned to the Missouri River for their fami lies. Those who remained in the mountains were reinforced in the autumn of 1847 by sev eral large companies of immigrants, who had followed them from the frontier. The afore mentioned, with a small company of Latter-day Saints from Mississippi, who joined the pio neers at Fort Laramie, and the returned mem bers of the Mormon battalion, which had been honorably discharged at Los Angeles, were the colonists who struck the first blows in the founding of Utah.

February 1848 witnessed the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ceding to the United States the provinces of New Mexico and California. In March 1849, at Salt Lake City, was organized the provisional government of Deseret, pending Congressional action upon a petition for a State government. Congress de nied this petition and organized, with greatly reduced boundaries from those of the proposed commonwealth, the Territory of Utah, destined also to be diminished in size by the formation of subsequent States and Territories. The Or ganic Act was signed by President Millard Fillmore 9 Sept. 1850, but the news did not reach Utah until late in January 1851. Early in Feb ruary the Territonal government went into ef fect. One of the first counties was. named Mil lard, and its principal town Fillmore, in honor of the nation's head, by whom Brigham Young had been appointed governor.

The first 10 years of occupancy passed in comparative peace. There were wars with the red men, in which the settlers were uniformly victorious, not more by force of arms than by wise diplomacy which summed up their Indian policy in these words: uIt is cheaper to feed the Indians than to fight them" The savages were gradually placated, and became peaceable and friendly. There were also seasons of drought and years of famine, before irrigation prevailed over aridity, and the swarming crick ets and grasshoppers that devoured the early crops ceased their terrible visitations. The work of colonization was vigorously pushed, settlements being formed wherever a spring of water bubbling up from some oasis in the des ert, or the smallest stream flowing from the mountains, held out hope of agricultural suc cess.

Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7