Miracle of the Seagulls
Gospel Art Picture Kit
The first pioneers entered the valley of the Great Salt Lake in the summer of 1847. Before winter came, more than 2,000 Saints were in the valley. That was many more than originally planned and probably more than the 1847–48 harvest could feed. The first winter was mild, and the pioneers hoped the harvest would be good, even though it would probably be small. More pioneers were coming, and they would need food.
In 1848, as the grain began to ripen, thousands of crickets came down from the foothills into the fields. For three weeks they ate the precious crops. The people tried to fight them off with brooms, shovels, ropes, water, and even fire, but there were just too many crickets.
President John Smith of the Salt Lake Stake called a special fast day, and the people all fasted and prayed and then continued to fight the crickets. They knew God would have to help them if they were to save the harvest. Their prayers were answered on a clear afternoon when seagulls began to appear in the sky. John R. Young described the event:
“There must have been thousands of them. Their coming was like a great cloud; and when they passed between us and the sun, a shadow covered the field. …
“At first we thought that they, also, were after the wheat and this thought added to our terror; but we soon discovered that they devoured only the crickets” (Memoirs of John R. Young, as quoted in William E. Berrett, The Restored Church , 285; see also 283–84).
The seagulls came from their nesting areas at the Great Salt Lake. They would eat the crickets until they were full, fly to the nearest stream, take a few sips of water, spit out what they had eaten, and then come back to eat more. After about three weeks the crickets were all gone and the crops were safe.
In 1897, after Utah became a state, the people showed their thankfulness to the Lord for the “miracle of the seagulls” by making the seagull the state bird and building a monument to them. The Seagull Monument stands on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
In 1848, the year after the first Latter-day Saint pioneers entered the valley of the Great Salt Lake, it was hoped that the harvest would be good. The people who had arrived and the many more who would be coming would all need food. Unfortunately, crickets began eating the crops, and the pioneers could not stop them. The pioneers fasted and prayed that the harvest would be saved. Seagulls came from the Great Salt Lake, ate the crickets, spit them out in nearby streams, and returned for more. After about three weeks, the crickets were gone and the crops were saved.
Artist, Jack Vigos
Painting used by permission of International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
Print © 1992 and text © 2002 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the USA^ Back to top