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Pioneers Made Their Initial Boat Trip on Utah Lake in 1847.

The presence of warlike Utes in Utah Valley helped convince the Mormon pioneers to settle in Salt Lake Valley in 1847.  However, the newcomers did not lose interest in Utah Valley and its large freshwater lake.

On July 26, just two days after Brigham Young’s entrance into the Great Basin, he ordered workmen to construct a boat,  Young planned to use this craft to explore the Great Salt Lake, the Jordan River, and Utah Lake (where men intended to try their luck at fishing).

The pioneer shipbuilders began work on a lightweight, flat bottomed skiff.  This type of boat could easily be transported and could sail in shallow water.  Workmen finished the boat on August 11.  The very next day a small group of five anxious men loaded the skiff onto a wagon and started south to Utah Lake to explore and fish.

When these explorers reached the Point of the Mountain, they looked down its steep southern slope and decided not to go any further.  The men were reasonably sure they could get the wagon and boat down the hill, but they worried that they could not get it back to the summit.  The disappointed men launched the boat in the Jordan River and floated back to Salt Lake City.

It was the end of November after they had finished sowing their wheat that the pioneers made a second effort to launch the boat on Utah Lake.  Parley P. Pratt and John S. Higbee led this expedition, and they took sufficient oxen to pull the boat up steep hills. It was December 1, 1847, when this group launched the first Mormon boat on Utah Lake.

The men explored the west side of the lake where there were fewer Indians and tried their fishing nets with limited success.  They caught only a few trout.  After spending several days on the lake, the men returned to Salt Lake Valley.  Luckily, they avoided a confrontation with the Indians.

This marker is #35 in a series, see the others on this page.