With oxen, gardens, costumed volunteers, and 31 historically significant buildings, Salt Lake City’s Old Deseret Village offers a rare opportunity to wander through the pioneer past.
Old Deseret Village overlooks This Is the Place Monument, which commemorates the entry of the Latter-day Saint pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. Created from a combination of either reconstructed or authentic homes and buildings moved to the site from various locations in Utah, Old Deseret Village at This Is the Place Heritage Park brings the historic past to life.
But the pioneer village is more than a collection of significant 1847–69 buildings laid out along a main street and two cross streets. It offers visitors a glimpse into history. Volunteers dressed in pioneer clothing give tours of the buildings, animals live in surrounding pens and sheds, and gardens flourish with flowers and vegetables.
“We hope to expand the park’s 440 acres to include aspects of mining, railroads, fur trappers, and Native Americans,” says Carol Nixon, executive director of the private, nonprofit foundation in charge of the village.
Old Deseret Village offers an opportunity to walk dusty streets, hear the clang of a blacksmith’s hammer, and dance the Virginia Reel. Whether visitors ride in a covered wagon, marvel at the immense size of oxen, or wonder how 10 people could live in a log cabin, they will not soon forget their visit.