Celebrate Archaeology at Frontier Homestead

A mock dig is one of the activities being presented. Frontier Homestead State Park welcomes archaeologists young and old and their families to participate in its annual Utah Archaeology Day on Saturday, May 7, 2016. Visitors will have the opportunity to participate in activities involving Native American games, history, traditional crafts and skills, and visit with a variety of demonstrators. Boy Scouts who participate in the event can earn their Indian Lore merit badge and complete some of the Archaeology badge requirements. Archaeology Day will take place from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Cost per person is $2.00 per person or $5.00 per family.

Archaeology Day is the kick-off for a series of activities sponsored by Frontier Homestead State Park, the Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism Bureau, Project

Traditional crafts and skills.

Archaeology, Transcon Environmental, Southern Utah University-College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Intersearch, and the Pizza Cart; and, co-sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Home Depot, and Lin’s Fresh Market.

The celebration of Utah Archaeology and Preservation Month continues on Wednesday May 11 at 7:00 pm. Come enjoy the camaraderie of the Iron County Historical Society and meet historic archaeologist and co-owner of Transcon Environmental, Everett Bassett.  Mr. Bassett will present his recent findings pertaining to the mass graves near Mountain Meadows.  This is an exceptional and enlightening experience that is open to the public. The program will take place at Frontier Homestead State Park Museum, and is free to the public.

Frontier Homestead Nov 2015 065


On Saturday May 14, enjoy a free, guided tour of Old Iron Town, a late 19th Century iron mining town.  The tour will begin at Frontier Homestead State Park at 10 am and return by 1 pm. Sack lunches will be provided to all registered participants.  You must request a reservation and receive confirmation for this event.  Space is limited to 15 individuals.  Please email Samantha Kirkley to reserve a spot, including any dietary restrictions, samanthakirkley@suu.edu.  Please come with appropriate footwear, sunscreen, and water.  Limited carpooling to the site is available.

Next, on Monday May 16, 6:00 to 8:00 pm, the public can take advantage of a rare opportunity to see artifacts from local archaeological sites.  Archaeologist and Curator, Barbara Frank, will be offering tours every half hour of the SUU Archaeological Repository.  The Repository is located in Room 101-A, west basement door, ELC, SUU campus. Directional signs will be on the doors of the ELC to ensure that you arrive.  All ages welcome!

Finally, on Wednesday, May 25, 7:00 pm at the Cedar City Public Library, archaeologist Barbara Frank will facilitate a book discussion of A Thief of Time by Tony Hillerman. Fifteen copies of this book are available at the circulation desk. This is also a great opportunity to see the Archaeology Month display inside and take time to enjoy the Rock Art out front!

According to Samantha Kirkley, State Coordinator for Project Archaeology, “Archaeology and Historic Preservation Month, a Division of State History program, is an annual celebration of Utah’s archaeological and historic resources. With so many wonderful archaeological sites in Southern Utah, we really have something to celebrate and enjoy.  Archaeology Month offers opportunities for all ages to participate in activities that promote cultural understanding and respect, and stewardship of these special places.”


The Kolob Society visits Frontier Homestead

Frontier Homestead State Park Museum is pleased to announce a special exhibit by the Kolob Society, celebrating the National Park Service Centennial.  The public is invited to an artist’s reception on Saturday May 7, from 1:00–3:00 p.m.  Members of the Kolob Society will be painting on-site throughout the day, providing an opportunity for the public to observe the creative process and interact with the artists. Plein Air painting

The Kolob Society is an informal group of plein air painters who meet on Thursday afternoons and Sunday mornings to go out on paint on location.  Plein Air is a French term which means "in the open air" and is used to describe painting outdoors. Members of this society enjoy being outdoors and immersed in their subject matter as they paint.

Painting winter landscapes

The Kolob Society was formed in June 2011 through Artisans Art Gallery, and started out with just a few members, but now numbers over 160 artists.  All artists are welcome to join the Society, using any medium.  Member artists represent all skill levels, from beginner to professional, who use a variety of mediums, including oils, watercolor, pastels, pencil, and photography.  After the paintings are completed, the group will meet to talk about them and offer critiques, suggestions, and encouragement.

Individuals interested in the Kolob Society can contact Debbie Robb via email at debbie-robb@leavitt.com.

The exhibit will continue at Frontier Homestead through June 30.

Kolob Society painting in the fall.

Sheep to Shawl 2016

Join us Saturday, March 19 for a trip back in time as we explore wool, from Sheep to Shawl. Frontier Homestead State park in partnership with the Sagebrush Fiber Artisans will allow participants to journey through the step-by-step process of taking wool from the sheep’s back to yours. From 10:00-2:00 have fun with the whole family as you explore how pioneers made clothes. Sheep will be attending as well to give visitors the opportunity to touch and feel before and after their annual haircut. DSC_0569



Demonstrations include washing, carding, spinning and dyeing wool. Knitting, crocheting and weaving will be available to participate in. Come enjoy the activities and visit with our talented craftspeople. Cost is $1.50 per person or $5.00 per family. Friend’s Group members are free with membership card.

The Buildings of the Utah Parks Company

Union Pacific spared little expense in the creation of their lodges for the Utah Parks Company. Noted architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood was hired to design all the UPC buildings, including the guest cabins. The Lodge at Zion

The lodges were not designed to house visitors, but served as the central location for visitor services. Guests would dine, arrange for horse trips, shop, and attend the employee shows in these grand buildings. Oftentimes, the upper floor of the lodge served as the girl’s dormitory.

Both the original lodges at Zion and the North Rim were destroyed by fire and rebuilt during the course of their UPC lives. The National Park Service tore down the Cedar Breaks lodge and the ground it rested on has been returned to nature.

The Cedar Breaks Lodge

The Bryce Canyon Lodge

The Bryce lodge, with a few structural changes, has remained true to its original design.

The Inn at the North Rim

The UPC also operated smaller inns at each park. These buildings served the needs of those individuals who were camping or did not care to pay the higher lodge price. These buildings usually contained a cafeteria and a small curio/convenience shop.

The Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim.

In Cedar City, the UPC maintained the exquisitely designed El Escalante Hotel. Begun by Cedar City residents, the El Escalante served as the center of the community for many years. Motion picture and radio stars, politicians, and civic leaders roamed the halls and enjoyed the exceptional dining and service the hotel staff provided. The Cedar City Depot opened in 1923 and became the hub of the UPC transportation service. Other UPC buildings such as the bus garage, mechanic shop and commissary have found other uses as private businesses. The Chauffeurs' lodge, a practical building for the bus drivers to stay while they were waiting for their next tour, and the Union Pacific freight building have both been destroyed. The El Escalante was demolished in 1971.

The Chauffeurs Lodge

The El Escalante Hotel

The Utah Parks Company

The UPC logo For nearly fifty years the Utah Parks Company brought tourists to the national parks of southwestern Utah and northern Arizona. Cedar City marketed itself as the “Gateway to the National Parks” and became the jumping off point for the tour groups. The Utah Parks Company, a subsidiary of Union Pacific Railroad operated as concessionaires in the parks, building, maintaining, and staffing lodges, inns, cabins and a large hotel in Cedar City. Visitors would travel by rail into Cedar City or Lund and board buses driven by men known as “gearjammers,” who would chauffeur them through the diverse and sometime stark landscape.

The UPC provided meals and entertainment for the guests, commonly referred to as “dudes.” Many of these individuals had never been to the western United States before and were pleasantly surprised with first class service in the middle of the wilderness.

UPC bus at Cedar Breaks

The “Grand Circle” Tour took the “dudes” to Zion National Park, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Cedar Breaks, with a few stops along the way. Union Pacific extensively marketed the area throughout the UP system and created a tourist infrastructure that exists to this day.

Union Pacific invested in the success of the Cedar City community and marketed it as if it were one of their own holdings. The following is from a 1940 UPC promotional booklet: “Visitors always find pleasure when they can spare a few minutes to stroll about the streets of ‘Cedar’ as its inhabitants call it. It is worth seeing for its mixture of the old and the new. In the same block with a fine new bungalow, one may find a

Loading the buses at the Cedar City train station

weather-beaten house which dates back to the times of the early Mormon settlers. Set in the midst of the red hills of Southern Utah, its streets look out upon lands that have fed Mormon flocks for more than three-quarters of a century.”

UPC billboard at Lund, Utah

Union Pacific emphasized the fact that this area of the country was filled with “unparalleled scenic splendor” and that although they had a talented publicity department, they could not do justice to the environment. They insisted that individuals must experience the Parks for themselves, just as today. A 1950 Union Pacific ad finalizes the point. “No process yet devised by man can faithfully bring to you the beauty of these supreme achievements of Nature. You must see them for yourself! In that way, and in that way only, you will carry away the unforgettable images . . . .”

For the last ten years, Frontier Homestead State Park along with Special Collections at the Sherratt Library at Southern Utah University have been collecting and recording the history of the Utah Parks Company and its employees. During this Centennial year of the National Park Service, we will share some of the many stories we have collected. We also encourage you to go out and create stories of your own.

The Snow Tank

Going for a ride. Brought to the area by Gronway Parry in the late 1940’s, the snow tank proved a popular and valuable resource for local farmers and outdoor enthusiasts. One of only two known to exist, and towing its companion sled, the snow tank hauled skiers, horses, and during the brutal blizzard of 1948-49 carried hay to starving cattle in the Cedar Valley. Additionally, Gronway and his snow tank carried Utah Parks Company workers up to the Cedar Breaks lodge to provide winter maintenance.

The snow tank at the Cedar Breaks Lodge.

Powered by a large diesel engine, the snow tank proved well suited for the Iron County winters and became a familiar sight on Cedar Mountain. The snow tank steered by a series of levers that tightened and loosened metal cables attached to the wood sledge. When the driver tightened the left cable it swung the sledge to the left and the tank to the right. The driver completed the opposite motion to turn the other way. This action serves exactly the same action as a rudder on a ship. Without the sledge, the tank could only move in a straight line.

Gronway Parry looks over his snow tank.

In 1969, the snow tank, along with many other artifacts became the core of our museum collection. Today, visitors to Frontier Homestead State Park can still see the snow tank and through scenes from the Parry Family home movies, watch it in action.

The snow tank at Frontier Homestead.

Snapshots: Highlights from Springville Museum of Art's "Family Vacation"

Family vacations boomed in post-war America. Amidst talk of nuclear conflict, packing the kids in the car and seeing the sites that defined the USA promoted family togetherness and national pride. In Utah, families came together to explore the lakes, canyons, ghost towns, and national parks that dot the Beehive State. This exhibit seeks to capture the feeling of a mid-century road trip through Utah. "Family Vacation" 2015 Mixed Media on Panel Stephanie Deer

In our new special exhibit, Snapshots: Highlights from the Springville Museum of Art’s Family Vacation, we will seek to capture those moments of discovery, when after hours of travel, you open the car door and see the wonders of Utah for the first time. Through vintage-inspired artwork from Stephanie Deer, travel posters by John Clark, paintings by southern Utah artist Jim Jones, and traditional Utah landscapes from the SMA permanent collection, this exhibit will recreate a mid-century vacation the whole family will enjoy. By exploring this amazing collection families will call back memories for those who hit the open road in post-war America and inspire younger visitors to visit these places on their own.

"Cedar Breaks Night Sky"2013 Screenprint John Henry Clark

“In the old days, the vacation started the moment you got in the car and the road trip itself was the experience. It was about the journey, not the destination, more so than today,” said John Clark a Toole based graphic artist whose work we feature in the exhibit. 2016 marks the centennial of the National Parks and in many of the works, the National Parks of Utah are prominently featured.

Cedar City has a long history with the National Parks. For nearly fifty years the Utah Parks Company brought tourists to the national parks of southwestern Utah and northern Arizona. Cedar City marketed itself as the “Gateway to the National Parks” and became the jumping off point for the tour groups. We will explore the history of the Utah Parks Company in future posts.


"Zion" 1937 Watercolor Ethel Strauser

Snapshots: Highlights from the Springville Museum of Art’s Family Vacation runs from January 25- April 30th.

A Look Into Our Collection: The Eliason Snowmobile

In 1924, Carl Eliason of Sayner, Wisconsin injured his foot. The active Eliason developed his first “snow buggy” to aid him in negotiating the tough Wisconsin winter weather.  Starting in a garage behind his home, Eliason eventually built something like the machine on display at Frontier Homestead, using various parts of a boat motor, bicycles, and some skis. Patented in 1927 as the “Motor Toboggan,” there was enough demand for the machine by 1939 that Mr. Eliason partnered with the Four Wheel Drive Company of Clintonville, Wisconsin to produce the first “snowmobile.”  There was a flurry of interest at the start of World War II from Finland, Russia and the U.S. Army.


Our snow machine is most likely a Model B which features lever steering, half-round gas tank with attached tool box, and foot throttle.  It weighed close to 500 lbs and was powered by a 25 HP twin cylinder Indian motorcycle engine (missing from our machine.) Cleats attached to chain belt moved the machine through the snow.

This unit was purchased by Gronway Parry from the Idaho Power and Light Company who used it to patrol the power lines during the winter. Parry later used this snow machine to transport movie crews on the snow covered Cedar Mountains. It became part of the museum’s collection in 1973.

A  public service message featuring the Eliason Snow Machine. Life Magazine, 1944.

Christmas at the Homestead Thus Far

We have been celebrating the Christmas season all week at Frontier Homestead. Our partnership with the Utah Shakespeare Festival has resulted in a wonderful Christmas celebration. Remember the event continues through Saturday, 5:30-8pm each night. We wanted to share with you some of the images we have taken. We have lots more on our Facebook and Instagram pages. You can see them at the following links: Please check all our social media outlets for videos and photos.

Who does not love trains?

Different crafts each night.

Great photo ops.

Lego ornaments.

Our fiber art tree.

Our "wood" tree.

Trees, Snow, and Cabins Aglow

On December 4-5, The Homestead Christmas Market will fill Frontier Homestead with the sights, sounds, and smells of a frontier Christmas marketplace.  Over 20 artists and crafters have been invited to create an old-fashioned shopping experience.  In addition to the artisans in the Museum, the historic buildings will be transformed into authentic pioneer shops, full of exceptional, hand-crafted items. Santa is on the way.

Whether it's exclusive handmade soap, a piece of whimsical or fine jewelry, a new painting or piece of art, a quilt or a toy, you will find it at the Homestead Christmas Market.  Drop by any time Friday December 4th between 11:00 am and 6:00 pm, or Saturday December 5th between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm.  Entrance to the Christmas Market is $1.00/person.


Wrapping up the festivities is the week-long Christmas at the Homestead, December 7-12. Once again the Utah Shakespeare Festival is partnering with us to celebrate the season with entertainment, crafts, treats and nightly appearances from St. Nicholas. Activities start at 5:30 p.m. each evening and continue until 8:00. Entry is only $5 per family or $1.50 for individuals or a week long family pass is available  for $20.  We will also have pioneer themed stocking stuffers available at the gift shop.

Santa will be visiting each night.

Every evening the buildings will be lit up and open for exploration and Santa will be on hand each night for Christmas wishes. Bring your letters and give them to the man himself. Treats, crafts, and entertainment will be different each night. Come and enjoy this new Cedar City tradition. The schedule is below or check out the event page on this blog.

2015 Christmas at the Homestead Schedule

The Iron Tree. One of many to be seen at Christmas at the Homestead.

An example of one of our Homestead Christmas crafts.

Examples of some of the many Christmas crafts we will be working on.

The Pioneer Blast Furnace

Cedar City was settled by pioneers hoping to successfully mine and produce iron. This group of core settlers became known as the Iron Mission. After many early attempts with a small furnace, they got the process down and began construction on a much larger structure. Built in 1854 the second pioneer blast furnace produced the best quality iron seen in during the entire length of the Iron Mission. Even before beginning construction, the residents of Cedar City named this structure the Noble Furnace because of their expectations that this would be a “noble building.”  The Noble Furnace proved much larger than its predecessor and also used a mechanical loading assembly. Blueprints of the Noble Furnace taken from the Deseret Iron CompanyProducing iron in the 19th century began with the combination of raw ore with a mixture of fuel and limestone. This was called a “charge” which filled or “burdened” the furnace. Many trials of each mixture were needed to get the right combination of ingredients. These were done in a smaller furnace or “cupola.” If a large charge was mixed incorrectly the lining of the furnace would fall off and need to be replaced – a process which could take months.

The replica furnace built to the exact dimensions of the pioneer furnace.The fuel used by the pioneers was either wood-based charcoal or coal-based coke. Charcoal proved the fuel of choice at Iron City. It was created by burning or smoldering wood in an oxygen free environment.   Coke is produced in a similar manner using coal and a coke oven. Using charcoal benefited the workers at Iron City because wood was readily available and it produced a softer more pliable piece of iron. Unfortunately, charcoal production uses a large number of trees.

Limestone served as a flux or catalyst that assisted in melting iron ore and binding to impurities. The furnace was lit and a constant temperature maintained through use of a water-powered bellows system. The ore mixture would heat up and separate – the heavier iron sank to the bottom while the impurities bound to the limestone rose to the top as “slag.” The pure iron was released when the furnace was “tapped,” then taken to the molding shop for further processing. Once cooled, the slag would be ground into cinder and discarded. 

Iron Mission Days Are Here Again!

The spinners are always a hit.Frontier Homestead State Park Museum once again celebrates the founding of Cedar City with a day of activities designed to honor the spirit of our community and those that created opportunities for our growth. Enjoy the cool crisp fall air on Saturday November 7th from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm as we host our annual Iron Mission Days. The cost is $5.00 per family. Troop 350 presses the apples ever year.Pioneer activities, crafts for kids, and living history demonstrations will be available. Staff will be showcasing tomahawk throwing, candle dipping and bread baked in the wood-fired bread oven.  Freshly pressed apple cider will be there for all. Additionally, visitors will be able to practice wood working skills in the Nelson Carpentry Shop and, of course, making the park’s well-known rag dolls. The Sagebrush Fiber Artisans will be practicing their craft, the replica Fremont Indian pithouse is now open for exploration, and patrons will be able to take advantage of the newly completed horseshoe pits.


Log Cutting is a family affair. Throwing a "hawk" can be an adventure.Saturday November 7th promises to be a fun-filled day of adventure for the whole family. Step back in time with Frontier Homestead State Park and celebrate Cedar City’s birthday Frontier Homestead style.

Our historic corn sheller in action. 

Mrs. Webster - Another Iron County Tale

A number of years ago we asked the community to share with us some of the legends and lore that have passed through their families. This tale is one of the many that came our way. With the exception of the photos, we are posting this story exactly how we received it.

Mrs. Webster

By a Cedar City Resident who prefers to remain anonymous

We have had several experiences in our home with a ghost that we call "Mrs. Webster". Although when the kids have an "incident" they get a little unsettled, for the most part "Mrs. Webster" has been a calm and to some degree a caring ghost in our lives.

Our home was built by Parson U. Webster and is known by his name.  It is reputed to have been built sometime around 1865 and served as a home for his two wives, to whom he was married at the same time, had rooms rented, and, since the living room on one side of the house was large by standards of the time, served as a place for "wakes". Families of the deceased would ‘sit with the dead’ in what is now our family room. My wife grew up in this home and says that she and her brothers and their friends always thought the house was a little spooky.

A great storyteller is necessary for a spooky story.

We do not really know if the presence in our house is the ghost of Mrs. Webster or not, because another older Grandmother who was renting a room once long ago passed away quietly in a bedroom that we used as the Master Bedroom at the time of my first introduction to her. It could be her, or any one of the women who were "sat with" so long ago.

When our oldest son was a toddler, I went into his room and laid down with him to help him get to sleep one night and fell asleep myself. After waking I walked back into the bedroom where my wife was sleeping and saw the figure of a woman sitting on the corner of the bed. Thinking it was my wife, I asked "why are you sitting up?" The figure stood, took two steps away from the bed and disappeared. It was dark so the fact that I couldn't see her was not so strange, but when my wife sleepily said "what?” and she was snuggly in bed, I had an eerie feeling, but I blamed it on being sleepy.

Sometime later, my wife was taking a turn with the restless baby. She said she was awakened, and felt a presence in the room; someone seemed to be leaning over the bed. She said it was a comforting feeling until she realized there was no one there! But she says it was not a scary presence.

The kids do not share our comfort with our houseguest and when she does make an appearance where they are involved, my wife and I generally end up with additional bed partners. Sometimes we will hear footsteps or doors squeaking in another room and we call out to whomever we think is there, only to find no one!

Happy Halloween from Frontier Homestead

It's a little strange, but the only incidents with "Mrs. Webster" have always been in the upstairs of the home where the bedrooms are, and the sightings have decreased in number as the kids grow older. Coincidence? You decide! I'm looking forward to having grandchildren to see if she comes around a little more.

Haunted Homestead

friends banner October is here and that means you need to be ready for all the ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the night. Get into the holiday spirit with a collection of fun and thrilling events at Frontier Homestead State Park providing a perfect lead in to All Hallows Eve.


Starting off,  Frontier Homestead presents Haunted Homestead. This family friendly event will get you and yours into the Halloween spirit.  Not only will we be providing some unique trick or treat locations, we also will have spooky crafts, ghost stories told by Utah Shakespeare Festival Education Director Michael Bahr, and fortune telling games from the 1920’s. Come explore the Homestead and see our spooky decorations. Be sure to enter the “Haunter” House, if you dare. Admission is $5.00 per family or $1.50 per person. Friends members get in free.

On Tuesday the 21st join our very popular cemetery tour.  This year our tour will be begin at 6:30 pm in the museum parking lot. Come learn about some of the more interesting headstones and stories about the graveyard. You may even hear about the rabid coyote. Please dress for the weather and bring a flashlight. Admission is free to this event.

At our Homestead Halloween events there is sure to be something to make you think, shake, or laugh so come join us. For more information call us at 435-586-9290, visit our facebook page www.facebook.com/friendsofthefronteirhomestead, or our website www.fronterhomestead.org Frontier Homestead is located at 635 North Main in Cedar City.

Can you spot the changes in our Halloween themed logo?

Historic Photo: Hearse, Then and Now

The Hearse, old and new. We thought this photo appropriate for the season. This Hearse, which now resides in our collection, was donated by Gronway Parry who sits in the driver’s seat. The Hearse came from Gunnison, Utah, was restored by Parry and donated to Frontier Homestead in 1973. The color of the hearse is important, black signified an adult while a white hearse carried the body of a child.  The broadcloth drapes are original and the casket inside is of the period.

Fall Events for the Entire Family

With temperatures dropping, leaves changing, and the stars coming out earlier, it must be fall and that means Frontier Homestead gets ready for some of our most exciting events of the year. Frontier Homestead in pumpkin form.We start in October with our Haunted Homestead events. On the 19th   Haunted Homestead begins with an evening of Halloween stories, games, crafts and treats. Then on the 21st  we host our popular cemetery tour looking at unique and important headstones in the Cedar cemetery. October finishes off with some non-scary activities at the Livestock Festival on the 20th.

In November we celebrate Cedar City’s birthday with hands-on activities at Iron Mission Days on November 7. Pioneer activities, crafts for kids, and living history demonstrations will all be available. We will be showcasing Candle Dipping and bread baked in our earthen bread oven.  Freshly pressed apple cider will be there for all. Additionally, we will be running our water wheel, providing demonstrations of our sawmill, practicing wood working skills in the Nelson Carpentry Shop, and of course making our famous rag dolls and rope bracelets. Local fiber artists will also be practicing their craft.

Tasty treats from the earth oven at Iron Mission Days.In December, the holiday season is upon us, and Frontier Homestead State Park Museum will be bustling with festivities.  From a two-day Christmas Market to a week-long celebration of Christmas on the frontier, families will have abundant opportunity to celebrate Trees, Snow, and Cabins Aglow.

On December 4-5, The Homestead Christmas Market will fill Frontier Homestead State Park Museum with the sights, sounds, smells and atmosphere of a frontier Christmas marketplace.  Over 20 artists and crafters have been invited to create an old-fashioned shopping experience for visitors.  In addition to the artisans setting up in the Museum, the historic buildings on the grounds of Frontier Homestead State Park will be transformed into authentic pioneer shops, full of exceptional, hand-crafted items.   Whether it's exclusive handmade soap, a piece of whimsical or fine jewelry, a new painting or piece of art for the living room, a quilt or a toy, you will find it at the Homestead Christmas Market.

Some of the many lights shining during Christmas at the Homestead.Wrapping up the festivities is the week-long Christmas at the Homestead, December 7-12. Once again the Utah Shakespeare Festival is partnering with Frontier Homestead State Park to celebrate the season with local entertainment, pioneer-themed crafts, tasty treats and nightly appearances from St. Nicholas. Christmas at the Homestead is for the whole family. Every evening all the buildings will be lit up and open for exploration. There will be crafts, hot chocolate, music and Christmas cheer.

We will be providing more details for these events as they come closer, we just wanted to give you a snapshot into our coming attractions and provide an opportunity to mark your calendar. To stay up to date and connected to the park, please join our pages, subscribe to our blog and bookmark our website. We hope to see you this fall. Frontier Homestead has plenty of family friendly fun waiting.

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The Deseret Alphabet

A headstone inscribed with the Deseret Alphabet in the Cedar City cemetery. While we have been focusing on school the past weeks we thought it would be interesting to post about one of the subjects all early Utah Territory schoolchildren learned, the Deseret Alphabet.

Brigham Young had the idea to create an alphabet that would help simplify the spelling of the English language for the thousands of new converts that were coming to Utah.  For many of these new converts, English was a new language. The purpose of this new alphabet was intended to ease the burden for students learning to read and write English, which with its many inconsistencies proved difficult to learn.

The Deseret Alphabet began on January 19, 1854.  The new alphabet consisted of 38 to 40 characters.  Each character was designed to present a sound of the English language.  George D. Watt along with Brigham Young created the symbols for the alphabet.  Its characters were to be so much simpler than those in the Roman alphabet that one would not have to learn to print one way and write cursive another. In fact, an ordinary person using the alphabet would easily be able to write one hundred words a minute. Every letter would have a specific sound, and every word would be spelled just like it sounded. The letters C, D, L, O, P, S, and W of the Roman alphabet were retained, but most of them were given new sounds, and thirty-one characters were added.

For some time, beginning February 16, 1859,  the front page of the weekly Deseret News was nearly covered with articles written in the Deseret alphabet. In 1860 “Holiness to the Lord” was inscribed in the Deseret alphabet on Deseret gold pieces. For at least a year Brigham Young’s account books were kept in the Deseret alphabet. Four books were published using the Deseret Alphabet; Deseret First and Second Book Readers, the Book of Nephi Part 1, and then the entire Book of Mormon.

The translation key.

Lessons from the primer. Can you translate?








Despite being heavily promoted by President Brigham Young, the Deseret Alphabet never gained wide acceptance and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 brought many people to Utah who were uninterested in learning the system. Soon after Brigham Young’s death in 1877, resources and funding for the project came to an end.