The This Is the Place Monument marks the approximate spot where Brigham Young ended the long journey west for the Vanguard Company. He was thought to have said “This is the right place. Drive on.” This was the original group of Mormon pioneers that selected a site for Mormon colonization. It was dedicated on July 24, 1947, on the 100th anniversary of the pioneers’ arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. The monument was sculpted over eight years by Mahonri Young, a grandson of Brigham Young.
The monument features several prominent members of the Vanguard Company along with important explorers in Utah history. On the very top facing west is Young, Heber Kimball, and Wilford Woodruff. Underneath them are Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow, the first members of the party to enter the valley on July 21, 1847, celebrating their arrival. On each side of the base are reliefs of the wagon trains and pioneers making their way west.
On the north pedestal is a group of fur trappers from the Rocky Mountain Fur Company led by William H. Ashley. They passed through Utah in the 1820s On the south pedestal is the Domínguez-Escalante Expedition of 1776, which was a group of Spanish explorers led by Franciscan monks Francisco Atanasio Domínguez and Francisco Silvestre Vélez de Escalante.
On the east side in the center is a relief of the Donner Party. The Vanguard Company followed the route set by the failed Donner Party just a year earlier. The Donner Party ended up snowbound in the Sierra Nevada and many had to resort to cannibalism to survive.
On each side of the east face of the monument are three important figures in Utah history. To the left are Étienne Provost, an early 19th century French Canadian fur trader for whom the city of Provo, the Provo River, and Provo Canyon are named; Chief Washakie, a warrior, friend of fur traders and Brigham Young, LDS convert, and greatly respected chief of the Shoshone; and Peter Skene Ogden, a Canadian fur trader with the Hudson’s Bay Company who explored the Great Salt Lake and for whom the city of Ogden is named.
To the right are Benjamin Bonneville, a French-born American fur trader and explorer for whom the Bonneville Salt Flats are named; Father Pierre-Jean de Smet, a Catholic priest from Belgium who did missionary work and explored the West; and John C. Frémont, an American military officer, explorer, and the first Republican presidential candidate in 1856, who performed the first scientific exploration of the Great Salt Lake in 1843.
The This Is the Place Monument is on the grounds of the This Is the Place Heritage Park. The park depicts life in Utah during the early settlement days. There are over 50 historic structures to visit and unlimited train rides are included in the admission. The park is open daily with reduced admission on Sundays and during the winter season. We didn’t have time to visit but we did go to the visitor center and saw a scale model of the park.
There are a few more minor monuments outside the visitor center, including Journey’s End, which depicts a family kneeling in prayer after completing the trek to the West.
On the road to the This Is the Place Monument are two more monuments that sit next to each other. The first is a monument dedicated to the Mormon Battalion of the Mexican-American War. The second is dedicated to the Pony Express riders, which used to pass through the area. A replica Pony Express cabin has been erected near the monument.