Utah History to Go
UTAH STATE HISTORY
HOME
FACTS
LESSONS
PEOPLE
PLACES
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
TIMELINE
BIBLIOGRAPHY
CONTACT US
SITE MAP
HISTORY FOR KIDS
Mark Twain's Utah
Lesson
Overland Migrations
Bartleson-Bidwell party
Nancy Kelsey
Bryant-Rusell Party
Harlan Young Party
Hastings Cutoff
Donner Party
This is the Place
Mormon History
Pioneers
Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company
Handcart Companies
A Girl Triumphed Over Handcart Tradegy
Many Mormon Immigrants Delayed Their Journey
Settlement and Exploration
Colonization of Utah
Salt Lake City
Bountiful
Fillmore
The Founding and Naming of Moab
Hole-in-the-Rock Trek Remains an Epic Experience
What Made the Mormon Landscape Unique?
Snowslides Devastated Northern Utah in 1875
A Fatal Snowslide in Provo Canyon
Those Pioneering African Americans
The Lives of Six Pioneer Girls
He Was an Outsider in Utah But Not For Long
Forty-Niners in Salt Lake Valley
Utah Farmer and the Pike's Peak Gold Rush
Emma Lee Endured Many Hardships in Pioneer Utah
Alice Parker Isom Faced Challenges WIth True Grit
19th Century Utah Women Spun Yarn and Dug Ditches
Hilda Anderson Erickson, Working Woman
Oliver B. Huntington and His Bees
A Policeman's Lot in Early Salt Lake CIty
A Blind Man and His Harp
Fanny Brooks Helped Establish the Jewish Community
Reverend McLeod and Building of Independence Hall
Jenny Baker Stanford Bridged Mormon-Gentile Gap
Welshman Dan Jones Was One of Zion's Busiest Bees
The Case of Grave Robber Jean Baptiste
Slavery in Utah
History of Polygamy
DeserEt
The History of a Pioneer Utah Cottage
The Pioneer's Cost of Living Versus Today's
Coins and Currency
The Sego Lily, Utah's State Flower
Pestiferous Ironclads: Grasshopper Problem in Utah
From Pioneer Fort to Pioneer Park
Ensign Peak
Temple Square
Virgin River Doused Cotton Mission Settler's Hopes
Gardner Mill and the Birth of the Valley's West Side
The United Order Movement
ZCMI
The Beginnings of the University of Utah
Arrival of the Episcopal Church
Ben Holladay, the Stagecoach King, in Utah
The Pony Express Added a Colorful Chapter in Utah
Mark Twain's Utah
Pony Express in Utah
The Telegraph Was Information Highway of the 1860's
The Steamboat Era Was Glamorous But Brief in Utah
Cowboys and the Cattle Industry
Old La Sal Was Once a Thriving Cow Town
Preston Nutter Made Utah Home of His Cattle Kingdom
Robbers' Roost Was a Haven For Outlaws
Utah Had Hollywood Style Western Gunfights
Just Who Was the Outlaw Queen Etta Place?
Josie Bassett-Jensen's Remarkable Woman Rancher
Military in Utah
Utah War
The Civil War in Utah
Mountain Meadows Massacre
Fort Douglas
Fort Duchesne
Camp Floyd
The Colonel Orders a Grand Review

Allan Kent Powell
History Blazer, November 1995

Mark Twain has been called the "Lincoln of American Literature" and with good reason.  Nearly every school child has read his most famous classics set along the Mississippi River--The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, published in 1876, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which first appeared in 1884. However, an earlier book, Roughing It, published in 1872, contains a wonderful mixture of truth and tall tales of Twain's journey to the West, which he began by stagecoach from St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1861. Traveling with his brother, who had been appointed secretary of the newly created Nevada Territory, Mark Twain stopped in Salt Lake City and wrote an engaging description of his entry into the Salt Lake Valley and humorous accounts of its people.

As the stagecoach reached the summit of Big Mountain fifteen miles east of Salt Lake City, Twain was much impressed writing, "...all the world was glorified with the setting sun and the most stupendous panorama of mountain peaks yet encountered burst on our sight. We looked out upon this sublime spectacle from under the arch of a brilliant rainbow." Arriving in the city that evening, the two brothers found lodging in the Salt Lake House.

The next morning gave Twain an opportunity to take in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake and his awe was not diminished. He described the city as lying "...in the edge of a level plain as broad as the state of Connecticut, and crouches close down to the ground under a curving wall of mighty mountains whose heads are hidden in the clouds, and whose shoulders bear relics of the snows of winter all the summer long. Seen from one of these dizzy heights, twelve or fifteen miles off, Great Salt Lake City is toned down and diminished till it is suggestive of a child's toy village reposing under the majestic protection of the Chinese wall." The city itself he found to be very healthy and in one of his witticisms noted that there was only one physician in the city, and he was arrested every week on a charge of vagrancy since he had no visible means of support.

Their second day in the city, Twain and his brother visited Brigham Young. Twain found himself ignored by the Mormon leader, especially in his attempts to direct the conversation toward Young's attitudes about Congress and politics. As the two brothers left, the elderly church president smiled at Mark Twain and patted him on the head, saying to the older of the two brothers, "Ah--your child, I presume-- Boy or girl?"

Mark Twain took his revenge on Brigham Young with the best weapon at his disposal--his pen. He jabbed unmercifully at Brigham Young and the difficulties he had managing his extensive polygamous family. He wrote of the demands for equal treatment made when Young gave one wife a breast pin; the avalanche of demands that were unleashed when a stranger gave one of his children a tin whistle; and the 7-foot-long, 96-foot-wide bed that Young allegedly had built to accommodate all his wives.

The famous writer enjoyed his two-day visit to Salt Lake City, noting upon his departure that he and his brother were "hearty and well fed and happy--physically superb...."

See: Mark Twain, Roughing It (1872)

 

UTAH CHAPTERS
The Land
American Indians
Trappers, Traders, & Explorers
Pioneers & Cowboys
Mining & Railroads
Statehood & the Progressive Era
From War to War
Utah Today