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Mormon History and Archaeology in Northern Arizona

Archaeology Southwest Magazine Vol. 19, No. 2
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Issue editors: Alan Ferg, Arizona State Museum, and Karen Wilhelm

In early 1876, Brigham Young, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called a meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, to select men and their families to travel south and establish several Mormon colonies in the Little Colorado River Valley of northern Arizona. Two earlier attempts had been unsuccessful, but a recent scouting report had described the Little Colorado as full of clear water, with rich soil and plentiful pasture.

Plan view map of Sunset Fort, drawn by George A. McClellan in 1881 (courtesy of Gerald A. Doyle and Lyle M. Stone).

Plan view map of Sunset Fort, drawn by George A. McClellan in 1881 (courtesy of Gerald A. Doyle and Lyle M. Stone).

Young stated that the purpose of this venture was fourfold: to take possession of the land for the State of Deseret; to establish and develop the United Order; to proselytize among the Hopis, Navajos, and Apaches; and to create settlements that would serve as havens for polygamous families who were being persecuted by the United States government in Utah….

In this issue, we celebrate the perseverance, industriousness, and vision of these Mormon colonists. Various authors explore the historical and archaeological heritage of Mormonism in northern Arizona, including excavations at three of the original four Little Colorado colonies; the short-lived Mormon occupation of the Forestdale area; the Mormon Lake sawmill, dairy, and tannery; historic petroglyphs near Joseph City; the colonies’ lime kiln; Fort Moroni near Flagstaff; and the history and meaning of Mormon town plans. In addition, Benjamin Pykles and Karen Wilhelm discuss the significance of these sites to Mormons themselves.

For this issue, the Center for Desert Archaeology has become, temporarily, the Center for Deseret Archaeology.

Articles include:

Mormon History and Archaeology in Northern Arizona — Alan Ferg, Arizona State Museum

Mormon Heritage and Archaeological Sites — Benjamin C. Pykles, University of Pennsylvania

Mormon Memories — Karen Wilhelm

Joseph City — Alan Ferg, Arizona State Museum

Irrigation in Joseph City: Mormon Persistence on the Little Colorado River — Jon S. Czaplicki, Bureau of Reclamation

Brigham City, Winslow, and Prospects for Renewal — Alan Ferg, Arizona State Museum

Brother Behrman’s Pottery — Alan Ferg, Arizona State Museum

Obed: Death of a Mormon Colony — Alan Ferg, Arizona State Museum

Sunset Fort and the Sunset Pioneer Cemetery — Kenn Evans, Homolovi Ruins State Park

The Mormon Lake Dairy, Sawmill, and Tannery — Pat H. Stein, Arizona Preservation Consultants

Mormon Petroglyphs at Tanner Wash — Peter J. Pilles, Jr., Coconino National Forest

The Little Colorado Colonies’ Lime Kiln — Alan Ferg, Arizona State Museum

Mormon Settlement of the Forestdale Valley – Lauren Jelinek, University of Arizona

Finding Fort Moroni — Robert A. Coody

Mormon Town Plans — Mark P. Leone, University of Maryland

Brigham City and Sunset Cemeteries — Photo essay

Back Sight — William H. Doelle, Center for Desert Archaeology

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