The Other September 11 Massacre

We will never forget what happened on September 11, 2001.  We will never forget that awful day and we pay tribute to all those who suffered and perished on that day.

However, that was not the first terror attack on American soil to occur on that date.  On September 11, 1857, another group of homeland terrorists massacred 120 unarmed men, women, and children in a meadows area 153 miles northeast of Las Vegas. In what has become known as The Meadows Mountain Massacre.


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( Video: The truth about Mountain Meadows, Utah: (Jerry Skinner Documentary)- Probably the best non-political video I found that explains in great detail the entire story of the Meadows Mountain Massacre.  The actual massacre starts at about the 4:00 mark )

It Starts in Arkansas

It was a wagon train headed for California. They started out several months earlier out of Arkansas, known as the Baker-Fetcher party. one of the wealthiest wagon trains to travel west at that time.  It would consist of 40 wagons and over 1,000 head of livestock plus valuable goods and money.

After more than three months on the trail in the early part of August, the train reached Salt Lake, Utah where they had the plan to rest and restock and recuperate as other trains had done in the past. The Mormon Church and their prophet, as well as the governor of the Utah Territory, Bringham Young, had other plans.

September 11 massacre

The site of the Meadows Mountain Massacre

The Perfect Storm

Unfortunately for them, they had entered Mormon Territory at a time we would now call “the perfect storm”.  They were unaware of the growing battle between the Mormon Church and its leader, Bringham Young, and the United States Government.  Not to mention Bringham Young’s anger towards anyone from Arkansas for killing one of their apostles earlier in the year.

The Mormon leadership gave orders that no supplies or aid were to be given to the wagon train in Salt Lake City. The wagon train was forced to continue along a southern route through Utah.  Coming to rest 275 miles south of Salt Lake City and 35 miles southwest of Cedar City, the closest town to them.

On September 7, 1857, the wagon train pulled into a peaceful-looking valley known as Meadows Mountain. They were all tired, running low on supplies, and needed to rest before they started over the mountain and into the Mojave desert on their way to the promised land, California.  Meadows Mountain offered them plenty of watering holes and plenty of grass for the cattle to graze.

For the travelers, they were looking forward to a little rest themselves. It’s been a long journey and the Mojave desert was not going to be an easy trek.

No Rest For the Weary

They didn’t even have any time to do their normal circle the wagons for safety before the first attack came out of nowhere. Mormon settlers belonging to the Utah Territorial Militia (officially called the Nauvoo Legion), together with the Southern Paiute Native Americans were starting to attack them from all sides.  Killing several members of the wagon train.

The fighting continued almost non-stop for the next few days.  Each day, the fighting was more Mormon Militia, less Piute Indians. The marksmanship of the Arkansas wagon train members apparently was much better than the Indians had expected and their losses were too heavy!

Then on the morning of September 11th, a troop of Mormon militia approached the wagon train under a white flag of truce.  The Mormon spokesman was none other than John D Lee.  John Lee was a major in the militia and, more important he was the spiritual adopted son of Brigham Young! Leader of the Mormon Church.

Edit: The Mormons at the time, practiced polygamy.  Since multiple marriages were against United States law, each wife after the first was considered the “spiritual” wife and her children were “spiritual adopted”.  Brigham Young had 56 children by 16 of his wives)

Surrender Comes Murder

It was John Lee’s job to convince the wagon train defenders that a deal had been struck with a Paiute for their safe passage and protection under the Mormon militia back to Cedar City, if they would leave their wagons and possessions behind.

With dwindling supplies and heavy casualties, the wagon party had little choice but to agree to the surrender. They were divided into three groups.  The wounded and sick were placed in the first wagons and they headed out. When out of sight, the second wagon filled with women and children over six were loaded in another wagon and they headed out.  When they were out of sight, the men were forced to walk in single file behind the wagons with an armed Mormon guard walking beside each man supposedly to serve as protection from the Paiute.

After traveling close to a mile from where they had left their wagons a command was given by a Mormon leader for Mormon guards to do their duty. This was a pre-arranged signal from each militia member to shoot and kill the person walking beside him.  At the same time, others were assigned to kill the wounded and others to kill the women and children.

In less than one half-hour, one hundred and twenty men, women and kids were massacred.  The 17 small children (under 6 years of age) were spared because they were deemed to be too young to remember or to understand what was taking place.  All these children were later placed in Mormon homes.

The victims were stripped of their clothing and belongings and buried in shallow graves.  Their livestock, wagons, and possessions of value were divided between Mormon families (mostly church leaders).  As a sign of welcomed participation,  some of the cattle were given to the Paiute Indians. Some of what was left were sent to Salt Lake City.

The Trials

In later interviews, Major John Lee would state that a vow of silence was taken by everyone who participated in the massacre.

For years,  the Mormon Church put blame and responsibility for the massacre on the Indians.  Then on July 23, 1875, in Beaver, Ut, before a jury of eight Mormons and four non-Mormons.  The trial ended with a hung jury (no clear guilt or innocence verdict)

The truth about Mountain Meadows

Visiting the site is not for the faint of heart. The feelings are still there

After an agreement between the Mormon Church, Bringham Young, and the United States government, there was a second trial held on September 13, 1876, before an all-Mormon jury. This trial placed all the blame and all the evidence supplied by the church pointed to John D Lee as the man who planned, directed and orchestrated the entire massacre, without the permission or help of the Church.  (yea, right!)

History of the Meadows Mountain Massacre Memorial

To say that the Mormon church did not want to admit any responsibility in the massacre.  For years they fought against any type of memorial to the event Bringham Young and others had been know to have destroyed any markings put up on the site.

In 1998, Following a visit of Church President Gordon B. Hinckley to the Meadows, the Church announced plans to improve their property in the area, which included replacing a 1932 memorial wall. Work began on the monument in May 1999, with much of it being contributed by a local Enterprise LDS Ward.

History of the Meadows Mountain Massacre Memorial

The official monument was dedicated on September 11, 1999, the 142nd anniversary of the massacre. 1,000 people attended, including President Hinckley, locals, and many descendants.

A majority of the Mountain Meadows massacre site is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been since 1975; the site was also designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011.

In 2015, the boundaries of the national historic landmark designation were expanded to include a third parcel of land, which includes the area believed to be where the women, children, and wounded were killed.

Resources

Zion and Other National Parks to Be Busy this Holiday Weekend

I will admit that I am partial to Zion National Park when it comes to social media. They just seem to have it dialed in when compared to other national parks I keep track of. They are often fun, informative, and fact-filled nuggets of useful information about the park, the history, the people, and its activities.

For one thing, Ziona has to be the most land-locked National Park in the Southwest.  What I mean by that is its natural design as a narrow canyon that makes it so difficult to handle the crowds.  Unlike other National Parks that are canyon-formed, Zion has no room to expand in order to more easily handle the crowds or to move all the people around.

For that problem, I like to blame Ken Burns!  Zion was truly a nice little hidden Vegas Gem few people even knew about.  That was until the filmmaker went and told all the entire world about it and the other wonderful National Parks in his 2016 PBS documentary Ken Burns: The National Parks – Americas Best Idea.   Now everyone wants to come out and see this little canyon!

Being Labor Day Weekend is usually one of the busiest, Zion National Park put out a press release explaining to those people brave enough to visit this magnificent little gem of a Park this weekend;  What to look forward to and how best to maneuver the crowds.

This actually makes for a great primer for those of you thinking of visiting other National Parks.

(Bolded text in press release added by me for emphasis…)

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SPRINGDALE, UT – Zion National Park is expecting a busy Labor Day weekend from Friday, September 3 through Monday, September 6, 2021. As our nation honors American workers, many will visit Zion and other National Parks across the country. Visitors to Zion should expect some queues and congestion within the park. Those with flexible plans are encouraged to visit before Friday or after Monday to avoid crowds.

Park visitors are reminded to recreate responsibly and plan ahead. Visitors, employees and contractors are required to wear a mask in NPS buildings, shuttle buses, and crowded outdoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status or community transmission levels.

Parking in Zion typically fills by 8:00 a.m. MDT, so visitors arriving later should plan on parking in Springdale and walking or taking the free town shuttle to the Pedestrian Entrance walk-in gate. The shuttle is free and masks are required. The first Springdale shuttle leaves the Majestic View Lodge (Stop 9) at 7:00 a.m. and the last shuttle leaves the Zion Canyon Village (Stop 1) at 9:00 p.m. The first Zion Canyon shuttle leaves the Visitor Center at 6:00 a.m., the last shuttle leaves the Visitor Center at 5:00 p.m., and the last shuttle out of the canyon from the Temple of Sinawava leaves at 8:15 p.m. Once parking in Zion is full, vehicle admittance into the park will be metered based upon availability. The Zion Mount Carmel Highway may be closed to through traffic periodically when parking has filled in order to safely relieve congestion both east and west of the large tunnel and to restore traffic flow. Alternative routes include: Utah Highway 59 /Arizona Highway 389, Utah Highway 14, and Utah Highway 20.

Both campgrounds in Zion Canyon are on a reservation system and are already fully reserved for the weekend. Campground and lodging options are available in the gateway communities surrounding the park. Please plan your trip accordingly.

This Labor Day weekend, Friday through Monday, park staff will be managing the queue that usually forms at Scout Lookout for visitors wanting to hike Angels Landing. Visitors will instead queue in the Grotto area and be metered on to the trail by park staff. This will reduce crowding on the chains section and allow visitors to wait at the Grotto where there are restrooms, running water and shade. Lines of several hours are possible, so hikers should be prepared. Hikers who want to stop at Scout Lookout or continue up the West Rim Trail without hiking the chain section to Angels Landing will not be required to wait at the Grotto. Park visitors are reminded to “Know before you go”; research the park and the activity you plan to do and potential hazards you may encounter, be realistic about your limits and the limits of those traveling with you, identify the right equipment for your trip and test it and/or try it out before you go. Visitors should be prepared to hike in the heat, with plenty of water, electrolytes, and proper footwear.

Zion National Park visitors are reminded that there is a severe drought, and everyone needs to be smart in their actions when it comes to having a campfire. Be sure any campfire area is clear of debris and your fire is out cold before you leave. Campfires are only allowed in South Campground, Watchman Campground and Lava Point Campground in fire rings at the campsites. For more information on preventing unwanted human caused wildfires, visit www.utahfiresense.org, and on Twitter @UtahWildfire.

Monsoon season runs from mid-July to mid-September. Flash floods are unpredictable and can occur from storms some distance away though skies appear sunny overhead. Check the weather forecast or stop by park Visitor Centers for up-to-date information. Your safety is your responsibility.

Zion National Park will enhance the enforcement of impaired driving over Labor Day Weekend through expanded DUI checkpoints and increased road patrols for visitor safety. Zion National Park’s DUI enforcement is aimed to keep all visitors, local residents, and wildlife safe on the park’s roads. Impaired driving in Zion is especially dangerous due to the narrow roads, steep drop-offs, and sharp turns.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, impaired driving crashes killed 10,767 people in 2016, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. That’s an average of one alcohol-impaired driving fatality every 50 minutes.

Zion National Park Rangers wish for all visitors to have an enjoyable and safe visit to the park. This includes obeying all traffic laws, driving sober, and appointing a designated driver if you plan on consuming alcohol.

The NPS requests visitor cooperation utilizing Leave No Trace (LNT) practices throughout Zion National Park. Following these LNT principles and tips helps to protect the natural and cultural resources of Zion National Park during your visit. The park also encourages visitors to take the Zion National Park Pledge. The Zion Pledge is a personal promise you can make to protect yourself and the park. Please share your #ZionPledge story on social media and encourage family and friends to do the same.

MGM Donates Land for October 1 Memorial

It’s one of those things. When I am on a tour, and we drive down the Strip. As we get close to where it happened. Close to Luxor or to Mandalay Bay Resort.

Most times, nobody will say anything, but you can still almost hear them ask the question as they look out the van window, over the now fenced and shielded off empty parking lot. Occasionally I will hear a soft voice from a guest ask “Is that where…..??” and they end it there


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We all remember that horrible night on October 1, 2017, when a lone gunman opened fire into the crowd attending the open-air Route 91 Harvest Festival as Jason Aldean took the stage.

58 people passed away at the Route 91 Harvest Festival and 867 were injured.
(58 Officially Died. 60 Unofficial)

October 1 Memorial

Now, MGM Resorts International is honoring those who lost their lives by donating part of the property as a proper memorial to those individuals.
MGM Resorts said that two acres of the 15-acre concert site will be used for the memorial, next to the Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer.

No construction start date has been mentioned.

I thank MGM for finally doing the right thing and look forward to learning more about what is planned for the memorial.

4 Fun Things to do at Lake Mead

 

Yes, I know it’s hard to believe. There are people who actually come to Las Vegas and never leave the Strip.  Shocking.  Some people just can’t fathom anything else beyond those bright lights and the crowds of people.  Or maybe it’s they just don’t know what else is really “out there”!

While Las Vegas possesses a dreamy nightlife and maybe an awesome day life around the pools.  But just imagine what you would discover if you rented a car and take a 40-minute drive south of Vegas.  That little drive will bring you past historic Boulder City and out to the gorgeous Lake Mead National Recreation Area. This lake was created in the 1930s by the building of the nearby Hoover Dam and is surrounded by spectacular desert views.

Here are 4 things to do in Las Vegas‘s Lake Mead that will make your vacation a once-in-a-lifetime experience:

Boating

Imagine boating across blue waters surrounded by soul-filling scenery. Lake Mead offers just that! There are also several options you can opt from. Rent one of the marinas or take it up a notch by bringing your own boat! However, that would require you to purchase a vessel pass from the entrance. This is guaranteed to make boating at Lake Mead a private moment for you!

Sidenote:  Like to fish?  Lake Mead is regularly stocked with largemouth bass, rainbow trout, black crappie, bluegill, green sunfish, and other freshwater fish.

The Northshore Drive

If the water-based activities get too much for you, drive along the north-western edge of Lake Mead. Driving miles overlooking the Muddy Mountains is sure to leave you awestruck. As a pro tip, remember to prepare a road-trip-worthy playlist before you hit the scenic road!

 

Camping

Not my idea of spending a night, but for others, the dreamy idea of camping under a starry sky will certainly come to life at Lake Mead. There are several campgrounds with different facilities. Look up options like the Boulder Beach campground that might prove to be your ideal camping site! From picnic tables to clean restrooms, these camping sites will make you feel like you are at home away from home.

Historic railroad Tunnels

Railroad Tunnels

Gear up to teleport back to the steam locomotion era! The 3.7-mile trail starts right before the park’s main entrance and takes you to the Hoover Dam. Originally built in 1931 to get the trains down to the dam site, this trail is great for a family walk since the path is flat and the walk does not take hours!

Final Thoughts

Out of the many things to do in Las Vegas, Lake Mead is an ideal natural respite! The combination of water and desert scenery makes Lake Mead an ideal stop to relax and catch a breath. If you are planning on visiting Las Vegas, make sure you pack your trekking shoes and camps. Lake Mead awaits you!

Related Post: Walking the Historic Railroad Tunnels

Other Links: Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Room Review Boulder Dam Hotel

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you how much I love Boulder City. You know, the town that built a famous dam!! So when my wife and I decided it was time for a little Staycation, I chose The Boulder Dam Hotel.


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This is historic hotel was built in 1933 and was the home base for the celebrities and government officials who came out to see the construction on the Hoover Dam. It has a total of 22 rooms and suites. That’s It! So when deciding to stay here, you need to take its historic charm and simplicity into the equation.

It has the modern amenities you need, maybe not all the amenities you want.  It does have free wi-fi that is better than I have seen at other major hotels and very friendly staff. That may be its biggest charm! The simplicity of the hotel as well as the charm of the historic district that it sits in!

boulder dam hotel

The kitchenette was a cute little setup, you do need to bring your own utensils and plates or ask at the front desk. But it does have a nice empty mini refrigerator! The living room in ours had a comfortable loveseat. The suite across from our I peeked in and saw it had a more formal set of upholstered chairs. As with most hotels, satellite television (yuk).

The bed was firm enough without being stiff. It gave support for us two old people. It’s the pillows that I hated. Not sure why. Maybe their size was too small and not really firm or fluffy. It was probably some bad foam. Not to worry, we survived! The bathroom is what told you it was a classic hotel. The knobs on the sink and on the bathtub were right out of an old movie! However, the bottom of the bathtub was lined with an anti-slip material that was good for bathing as well as to stand on and kept you from slipping and falling. I liked that it was like that.

boulder dam historic district
wonderful shopping in small family-owned shops

Being in the historic district was nice. To go out for a walk to the several restaurants, pubs or coffee shops right there was nice. It was almost like a Mayberry kind of feel to it. You knew it was a small, old town. The charm of the small town oozed everywhere! Then to return to the hotel and find a fire in the fireplace and two high back chairs calling your name to sit, relax in front of the fire and talk with your mate…

In the morning, we enjoyed a wonderful cooked-to-order breakfast in the hotel restaurant. The tables were large and had news articles under the glass to let you know what the headlines were like in 1933! As if you wanted to know if Mrs. Schroder’s cat was found or not!!

It was nice to step back in time, leave the big city and get immersed into the old world of Boulder City. We gave the Boulder Dam Hotel 5 stars!!