Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area

Sign marking the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area

The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area was established in 2006 for the purpose of commemorating the efforts and sacrifices made by Mormon pioneers in the early years of their settlement across central and southern Utah. Those pioneers had to contend with many difficulties: hostile Native Americans, a high desert climate and a terrain like no other on Earth. Many of their settlements failed, for many different reasons. But many also flourished, even though most were only marginally profitable from an agricultural standpoint. Brigham Young had told his faithful to go forth, settle and multiply, and they did.

The Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area is broken into five districts based on geographic and historic criteria. They are: Headwaters, the Boulder Loop, Little Denmark, Sevier Valley and Under the Rim. Little Denmark was determined based on the large number of settlers who'd immigrated from Denmark and the Scandinavian countries. The other districts were determined based on where they are located on the Utah landscape.

When I drove back and forth across southern Utah in late September, 2015, I kept seeing the signs at each side of an included town along the route. My drive took me through parts of every district in the Heritage Area except Little Denmark. Apparently the designation as a National Heritage Area also opened the door to get assistance from the National Park Service (for advertising and tourism purposes) and from others in private industry and in government to fund the restoration of various historic elements, place commemorative plaques and build heritage sites and museums in almost every included town.

The Pioneer Heritage Monument in Escalante
The Mormon Pioneer Heritage Monument in Escalante
The Heritage Museum in Tropic
The Mormon Pioneer Heritage Museum in Tropic
Photos courtesy of TheArmchairExplorer, CCA-by-SA 4.0 License