Salt Lake City, UT, Part I: Temple Square
It was only about an hour's drive from Utah Lake State Park to our next stop at Pony Express RV Resort in North Salt Lake. Pony Express RV is only a few years old, and, although it's fairly expensive ($38 a night with a Good Sam discount and including tax at the weekly rate), it is a very nice RV park
Pony Express RV has full hookups with 30/50 amp electric, plus cable and free Wi-Fi. The roads and pads are paved, and there is nice grass between the sites. Sites are a little close together, but not that bad for a private campground. There are long pull-throughs in the center with back-ins around the perimeter. All sites have a paved parking area for your tow or towed vehicle. The photo below shows our pull-through site at Pony express RV.
The next photo is a view down one of the rows.
The drawback to Pony Express RV is it is located very close to the I-215 bypass, and there is a lot of traffic noise. Most days were quite warm, so we ran the air during the day which drowned out most of the noise.
In our last post about Utah Lake State Park in Provo, we mentioned the Jordan River as being the only outlet for Utah Lake. Well, the Jordan River runs right past Pony Express RV. As we said in our last post, the outflow from the lake is limited to low amounts, so the river isn't very big considering it is draining a 150-square mile lake.
As you may know, Salt Lake City was settled in 1847 by Mormon pioneers led by Brigham Young. We'll have more about some of the early settlers sprinkled throughout this and our next several posts. The leaders of the Mormon Church (officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or LDS for short), served as government leaders in Salt Lake City and in the new territory that was to become Utah.
We arrived in Salt Lake City on July 4th. Since most downtown businesses would be closed on July 5th, we decided that would be a perfect day to visit the city. We found a free, on-street parking spot with a 2-hour limit at the far eastern end of Temple Square.
Temple Square, which is an area one block wide by about three blocks long, is located in the center of the city and contains numerous LDS buildings, many of which are historic. Temple Square is therefore one of the city's most popular tourist attractions. Located here are the LDS office building, a conference center, two separate visitor centers, Salt Lake Temple, the Tabernacle, and more.
Right near our parking spot was Brigham Young Historic Park, which is dedicated to Brigham Young and the pioneers he brought to the area in 1847. One of our favorite flowers is the hollyhock which is used extensively in this and many of the downtown gardens.
The hard work of those early pioneers is symbolized in the garden by things like this water wheel...
...and by several sculptures including these stonemasons...
...and these ladies tending their vegetable garden.
In addition to all the buildings we mentioned above, the center of the square is a large plaza with gardens, fountains and reflecting pools. There was a walkway to the plaza right across the street from the Brigham Young Historic Park. The heart of Temple Square is the six-spired Salt Lake Temple shown in the distance in the photo below.
The Temple was built over a 40-year period starting in 1853. Only LDS members are permitted in the Temple, but visitors are welcome on the grounds outside and in other buildings in the Square. The next photo is a closer view of the Temple with a reflecting pool in front.
Behind the Temple is the elongated dome of the Tabernacle.
Unlike the Temple which is closed to the public, the Tabernacle welcomes visitors. The Tabernacle was built from 1864 to 1867 as a meeting hall, and it seats 8,000.
The Tabernacle is home to the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir. There are tours, occasional concerts and daily (except Sunday) organ recitals. The Tabernacle organ is said by many to be the finest pipe organ in the world. We were there at just about the right time for the noon recital, so we decided to listen in to part of it.
Although we're not big fans of organ music, we must say the sound of the Tabernacle organ with its 11,623 pipes was impressive. The acoustics of the tabernacle are even more amazing. Before the recital, the organist demonstrated the acoustics by speaking in a normal voice while standing at the podium. His voice was actually clearer than when he used the microphone because there were fewer echos. He also dropped a pin onto the podium from a height of about 12 inches. The "clink" could easily be heard from anywhere in the auditorium without any electronic sound amplification whatsoever.
One of the two LDS visitor centers is to the north of the Tabernacle, and the Assembly Hall is to the south. The Assembly Hall is a place of public worship where visitors are welcome, although the hall is mainly used for conferences and meetings today. The Gothic Revival structure, which was completed in 1880, was built from granite left over from the construction of the Temple. The auditorium seats almost 2,000 plus 100 seats for choir members.
In front of Assembly Hall is a monument to the many Mormon pioneers who couldn't afford ox-drawn wagons to cross the plains to Salt Lake City. These people made the 1,350-mile trek from Iowa City, IA, to Salt Lake Valley on foot pushing and pulling all their worldly possessions in hand-built wooden push carts.
We made our way back toward the car along South Temple Street where we continued to enjoy the gardens of the plaza as we walked along.
At the eastern end of Temple Square along South Temple is Lion House and Beehive House. Beehive House (the building with the columns to the right in the photo below) was built in 1852 and served as a residence, office and reception hall for Brigham Young. At the time the house was built, Brigham Young was both president of the LDS Church and governor of the Utah Territory. Lion House (the building with the gabled roofs to the left) was completed in 1856 and was a residence for Brigham Young and his family.
The next photo shows Paul in front of Beehive House.
The beehive is a prominent Mormon symbol because the bee is very industrious. The beehive is also the official symbol of Utah today, and it appears on road signs marking state highways. The state motto is "industry."
From Beehive House, it was a short walk back to the car, and with no traffic downtown on the holiday, it was a quick drive back to the motor home. There is a lot more to see in and around Salt Lake City, so stay tuned.