Named for a Prophet in the Book of Mormon, Moroni is a small town in Sanpete County and a fun, historic place to explore.
- The Co-Op
- Fort and Bastion
- Jabez Faux Sr and Jr Homes
- The M on the hill
- Moroni High School Mechanical Arts Building
- Mortensen/Nelson House
- ZCMI Building
The city of Moroni is located in the north end of the Sanpete Valley, 30 miles east of Nephi in Juab County and 19 miles north of the Sanpete County seat of Manti. Although Anglo settlers did not inhabit the valley until 1859, it had long been a favorite valley of the local Ute Indian tribe, a fact that would later affect the development of the area.
In the spring of 1859 eight men from the town of Nephi, led by George W. Bradley, began the settlement of Moroni, building dugouts into the banks of the Sanpitch River, which runs through the settlement. Although the town was originally laid out in the flat lands south and west of the current town site, due to the unpredictability of the river, the town site was moved to its present location in the rolling hills northwest of the river. Farming and stockraising was the main livelihood of the Moroni settlers, but several sawmills constructed in the early 1860s provided for the lumber needs of the community.
In April of 1865 conflicts with local Indian tribes came to a head. The conflict, known as the Black Hawk War, began in April of that year and spread from the Sanpete Valley throughout the territory. Brigham Young, leader of the territory, and president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon) requested that a fort be constructed in Moroni and that the residents, not only of Moroni, but of the neighboring towns of
Wales and Fountain Green move their log homes within the protection of the fort. For the next six years residents of the fort spent much of their time fighting battles and protecting their homes, property and livestock.
During this time in the fort, the city of Moroni was incorporated in 1866, and while land had already been distributed among many of the settlers, after the opening of the Federal Land Office in Salt Lake City, the mayor, William Draper, applied there in 1870 for 365 acres of land for the Moroni city plot.
By 1872 the conflict between the settlers and the Indians had quieted and most residents had moved outside the protection of the fort. Several of those from the communities of Wales and Fountain Green, however, stayed on, making Moroni their permanent home. Once outside the fort, the town of Moroni was developed in the typical grid fashion according to Joseph Smith’s “Plat of the City of Zion”, despite the inconvenience of rolling hills.
In 1885 the Sanpete Valley Railroad Company, which had organized in 1874 to service the coalmines on the north bench of the Sanpete Valley, completed track into Moroni. As Moroni was the terminus of the railroad, it became “the distributing point for mail and supplies for all southern cities and towns.” The railroad also “stimulated foreign shipments and gave the place and impetus to financial prosperity.” Travel to Salt Lake City and points between became possible when regular passenger service was scheduled to connect with passenger trains at Nephi.
In 1889 the Moroni Meeting House, which had been constructed of adobe in 1870 and had served for all public gatherings for nineteen years, was replaced with the Moroni Tabernacle, the first “modern” community building. Another significant building, the Moroni Opera House (National Register 1996), was completed in 1891. The town of Moroni began to flourish and diversify with the building of stores, hotels, a grist mill, and
manufacturing facilities. This prosperity lasted through the end of World War II, when the economy of the nation changed dramatically and Moroni, once again, became more of an isolated rural community.(*)