Episode 163: Top 10 Mormon Sites to Visit in Salt Lake City

John and Zilpha are joined by Heather and Amy to talk about the must see Mormon sites in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Episode 163

33 comments on “Episode 163: Top 10 Mormon Sites to Visit in Salt Lake City”

  1. Troy Reply

    One very minor correction on Gilgal Garden:  The Garden was created by Thomas Child, Jr.  It is one of the great collections of “visionary art” in the United States.  You can find more information about Gilgal Gardens — and take an interactive tour — here: http://www.gilgalgarden.org.

  2. Troy Reply

    It was nice to be introduced to “Space Jesus,” who will join “Cowboy Jesus” and “Ass-Kicking Jesus” to form my personal trinity of cool Jesuses.

  3. Drew Reply

    I was disappointed to not hear the Wilford C Wood Museum in Bountiful.  Wood has all sorts of cool church history artifacts.  Including the Jupiter talisman,  He owned the original death masks and the printers copy of the original B of M before he donated them to the church.  They also have the Angle Moroni off one of the temples, the most complete collection of Native American arrowheads in the world.  It is very eclectic and a fascinating story.  He owned  most of the church sites in Nauvoo, the Whitmer’s store and I think the Hill Camorah.  He had his painting the Church History Museum along with all of the GA’s until about a year ago when the Church took it out and gave it back to the family. It is is an amazing place and has been my favorite place to visit in the SLC Valley.

    • Anonymous Reply

      2 reasons I didn’t include it. Most importantly, it is not in Salt Lake City. Secondly, it is kind of hard to get into. It is by appointment only.

      • Troy Reply

        You also need a group of at least 15 people to get an appointment.  I tried to go when I was in town last summer, but could not find 14 other people with any interest in going.

          • Troy

            I think it’s free. 

            I probably can’t go until next summer either.  I really wish I could take a couple of days to come out for a ME event.

  4. Jeremy Reply

    We always called that place “Hobbitville”.  Back in college, me and a friend snuck in there at night. There’s LOTS of stories and legends. VERY creepy.

  5. Anonymous Reply

    I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this podcast! I served my mission on Temple Square 5 years ago and enjoyed visiting quite a few of the places mentioned on your list. I’d love to go back and take it all in as my perspective has changed drastically from being a TBM to totally unbelieving.

    I would like to clarify one little detail regarding the Beehive House tours. I can’t speak for anyone else, but during my time at Temple Square the sisters were always encouraged to be up front with the guests at the Beehive House regarding polygamy. I think it depends on the missionaries and the mission president. Of course we were also encouraged to put our own spin on it. We would practice our opening statements with our companions until we could rattle off a memorized little tale about how Joseph Smith introduced ‘plural marriage’ after noticing that it was practiced in biblical times… I don’t think I was alone in my dislike of Beehive House duty since we were given such limited information. I read whatever I could get my hands on that was mission approved in order to make these tours less painful.  I do agree that it is a must-see if in Salt Lake City.

    Thanks for all you do Zilpha and John!

    • Amy (sinclaire on PostMo) Reply

      thats SO interesting that you were encouraged to speak openly about it because that has not been my experience for any of the tours i’ve taken there-the most recent being about 2 months ago. They avoided giving me any answers and basically brushed me off and ignored my question. Not rudely by any means but hey acted like it was not important to the tour of BY’s home. 

      • Anonymous Reply

        My husband thinks I’m smokin’ crack. But I distinctly remember the sister missionaries addressing polygamy head on at the very first stop in the tour.  (The part where you go through the first set of doors.  I think there was a baby’s blessing dress in a case, perhaps?)  The sister missionaries specifically said Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were instructed to practice it as the prophets of old but that the practice had been discontinued by yet another revelation.  They claimed “the work was done” or something like that.

        • Anonymous Reply

          Troy – When I was there we would offer a lemon drop in lieu of the horehound candy. They used to give out horehound since it was Brigham’s favorite, but legend has it the guests would spit it out as soon as they left the Beehive House, littering the grounds with candy.

          Amy – I think the discrepancy in the tours is a result of a couple of things. During my mission, our mission president would actually do zone conferences on polygamy in order to prepare the sisters for the questions that would inevitably be asked both at the Beehive House and on Temple Square. But since mission presidents called to Temple Square are only there for 2 years, policy and pet projects instituted by one president don’t take very long to phase out with the sisters. I think the other reason the sisters steer clear of the subject is because they simply don’t know how to communicate the justification for it. Ironically for LOTS of sisters that serve on Temple Square the first time they ever hear that Joseph and Brigham practiced polygamy is on Temple Square.

          Heather – Your memory of the tour is exactly how we were instructed to conduct the tours when I was there! We would greet the visitors in the little office and then move into the room with all the clothing and explain the ‘history’ of plural marriage before going through the rest of the house.

  6. mono Reply

    Concerning prostitution in Salt Lake City, in Quinns book, Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans, Quinn identifies Commercial Street as the prostitution district. In 1897 apostles criticized the LDS Church’s real estate company for leasing the upper floors as “whorehouses” where male prostitutes also worked. Such leasing continued for another forty-four years.

    There is also a great picture of Brigham Morris Young (BY’s thirty-fifth child) dressed as a female impersonator, a role he performed for decades after his return from a Hawaiian mission in 1885.

    I’m not sure where Commercial Street is or was but it should be on the Top 10 Mormon sites to visit in SLC.

  7. Elder Vader Reply

    I remember seeing Gilgal Garden on the great movie “Plan 10 from Outer Space”  — A classic movie for those of you who haven’t seen it. 

    Quick story about the ‘This is the Place’ Monument.  A few years back the church facilities guy who had stewardship over that monument, set up a shell corporation to do the landscaping so he could make a little extra money on the side, in addition to his own salary.  He had been doing it for years.  Finally he got caught because his company stopped cutting the grass and it was looking shabby.  — Thought I’d throw that little story in, even though it was off topic.

  8. Patrick Darby Reply

    You can see Ensign Peak from Immigration Canyon. It’s probably the only place in the whole valley in which Ensign Peak looks impressive. But it is nothing like Brigham Young’s original vision in which he see’s a solitary cone standing above a wide plain.

    Ensign Peak is a little knoll about halfway up the taller ridge behind it. Looking up from Temple Square you’d never notice it unless someone pointed it out.

    Most of the histories have Brigham Young pausing as if in vision and then saying “This is the right place. Drive on.” I kinda like to think that that “vision” was his “oh sh*t!” moment when he realized that there weren’t any solitary cone mountains in the Salt Lake Valley. Then he saw a little knob sticking out and he breathed a sigh of relief that he wouldn’t be caught “visioning” with his pants down.

  9. RJ Reply

    The first time I went to Gilgal gardens was in high school
    in the early 90’s. Back then it was on private property, not open to the public.
    Having to trespass in the middle of the night certainly heightened the experience
    of it all. We didn’t to acid though, just vast quantities of Mt Dew. My friends
    and I all referred to the man in brick pants as “brick balls”.  


    As far as the weirdness factor goes, it don’t exactly
    see it that way. I am a designer and artist myself and I just see it as a very compelling
    work of art. The Bishop was clearly a true artist and wasn’t afraid to express
    his vision in his own way. I really respect that. Especially considering the
    conservative society he was a part of.   

  10. Portseven Reply

    Not even listened to this yet, but am exited just based on the title. I have been inactive for 8 years now, but have TBM wife, kids and most of my family. Being based in the UK, but LDS for most of my life, Utah has always been a big element in my life, but I have never gotten round to visit. My intention is to go in the next few years, my TBM will love it, and I am curious, being a ‘cultural mormon’ anyway. Maybe you can do one eventually taking in more than SLC, when we come over we will probably stay nearer Provo.

  11. Anonymous Reply

    A couple of tidbits of information to support the podcast:

    I don’t believe that Brigham Young made his “this is the right place” statement from anywhere near the current monument. In fact, I believe it was made from the top of what was once known as “big mountain summit” which is near the top of today’s East Canyon Road. The view into the Salt Lake Valley from that point is very limited, and certainly does not include Ensign Peak. From the top of big mountain, the Mormon Trail meanders for several more miles before entering Emigration Canyon and thence on into the Valley.

    Ensign Peak is named as such because it was the place where the “Banner of Liberty” was displayed after the Mormons entered the Salt Lake Valley. Hence the name “Ensign”, the song “high on a mountaintop” and the magazine of the same name… That event is well known and celebrated in Mormon history. Dialogue Vol 26 # 4 has an article about it.

  12. Randy Snyder Reply

    “I’m not an action scripture girl”.  Hilarious line Heather.  I’m not an action movie kind of guy either, at ALL, but as a missionary serving stateside with nothing but the scriptures to read during study time, those action scriptures broke up the monotony sometimes for me. Although, by the end of Alma, the wars did start to get old because it was like 30+ straight chapters of war.

  13. Muzzylu Reply

    The Beehive house is very interesting, and of course Temple Square is a must-see. 
    There is a great new historical romance ebook available on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. The storyline of “Captive Heart” tells the fascinating story of the clandestine practices of the early Mormon Church. It is a fast paced and a uniquely different read; with spine-tingling suspense, and sizzling romance. http://amzn.com/B004SY9IDY

      • DemonofKolob Reply

        There several secret church projects going on in the vault:
           1 there is a gold foundry that has been unsuccessfully trying to forge the gold plates
            2 There is a war room for planning the take over of the US government. The treasure vault to finance this is also located in the vault.
            3. Various mind control experiments are being conducted there

        If this sounds unbelievable it is because I made it all up since the truth that the big secret secure vault just contains genealogical records and historical documents is so mundane and boring

  14. Anonymous Reply

    Finally had a chance to listen to this episode.  Studio X?  I thought it was Studio Fist in Your Face.

  15. Eric Reply

    When I was fulfilling my 2nd Mormon mission of door-to-door selling of satellite dishes, one afternoon I was assigned to the area of Salt Lake City that included “Hobbitville”.  I was familiar with the local legends, so I went in and knocked on a few doors but no one answered.  I remember the doorknobs were much lower than normal doorknobs.  That’s the only thing I remember that seemed to confirm that little people indeed lived in “Hobbitville”.

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