This is Still the Place: Utah's 1897 Pioneer Jubilee

A Celebration Beyond the Imagination :
1897 Pioneer Jubilee


To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of Brigham Young's wagon into the Salt Lake Valley, the Semi-Centennial Commission planned to host a spectacular four-day celebration to honor the surviving pioneers. Only one year after Utah's statehood, organizers wanted the Pioneer Jubilee to be “the biggest celebration in the country since the 1893 World’s Fair” and the largest event yet to be seen west of the Mississippi. Over $60,000 was raised in private and public funds in preparations for the Jubilee. Advertised and recognized on a national level (over ten other states contributed funds), the Jubilee served the dual purpose of showing the great advancement of the area in 50 years as well as demonstrating 1847 as the significant founding date of Utah (rather than 1896 statehood). Emphasizing the arrival of Brigham Young in the Territory overshadowed the entrace of Utah into the Union, a milestone that did not occur without significant tension between the federal government and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (L.D.S. or Mormons).

Jubilee Events Program

Visit the Hall of Relics

1897 Pioneer Photo

In the tradition of pageantry of the 1890s, patriotic themes loom large in the Jubilee: flags, eagles, stars, and stripes can be seen throughout the decorations and souvenirs from the event. The Jubilee, however, has another, parallel set of images in its pageantry: those related to the settling of the area by members of the L.D.S. Church. Beehives and bees for industriousness, sea gulls, Brigham Young, and other significantly Mormon symbols permeate the event. This joint demonstration of patriotism and singularity makes Utah's celebration stand out like no other in the last decade of the nineteenth century.

“ Salt Lake City has perhaps never before been so packed with enthusiastic sightseers. The streets cease to be streets about the time when parade begins – they are rivers of humanity in which the people surge to and fro, here moving rapidly for a stretch in ripples of anticipation toward some happening a block or two away, there forming a whirlpool which moves round and round some striking object of interest … “it is not a time to call up the sagebrush waste, the slinking coyote, the ox team, the dug out and log cabin filled with weather-beaten, sun-burned immigrants dressed in nameless costumes. The eye and the car are full of the present. It is a pageant that people have come to witness, a pageant that bridges the past and the present and is a prophecy of the future.” -- Deseret Evening News (July 21, 1897)

This is Still the Place: The Online Exhibit

With the generous support of the Utah Humanities Council, the Pioneer Memorial Museum is proud to present this online exhibition, a gathering of artifacts and documents relating to the Pioneer Jubilee of 1897. The primary Artifact Exhibit features objects held by the museum that were made for or used at the Jubilee. Having an online exhibit allows us to display views of the objects from a variety of angles, and -- in the case of the poetry book -- allows visitors to browse through the pages of a publication over 100 years old. We also would like to draw your attention to the pins designed and commissioned for the Jubilee from Tiffany & Co. from New York City. The exhibit displays each of the eight pins currently held by the museum.

Additional content includes the entire events program from the celebration, a virtual tour and catalog of the Hall of Relics, a photograph of surviving pioneers, a short quiz to test how much you remember from the exhibit, and a timed matching concentration game.

We invite visitors to contact us in regards to any Jubilee artifacts or documents they may own and would like to include in our examination. Please direct your feedback to Thank you and enjoy browsing through this fascinating historical event. To see these and many other pioneer artifacts, visit us at Pioneer Memorial Museum, 300 North Main in Salt Lake City.

The Events!

Organizers of the Pioneer Jubilee utilized numerous venues in and around Salt Lake while capitalizing on the popularity of pageantry and sports to schedule a wide variety of activities for the celebration. See the actual program of events embellished with illustrations and links throughout!

The Relic Hall!

Many months before the Pioneer Jubilee, organizers were calling for artifacts owned or used by the pioneers, to display under one roof known as "The Hall of Relics." This temporary structure, which took only one month to build, housed hundreds of items and was a huge success with visitors. Learn about the building and artifacts that were displayed as well as see items that are now owned by the Pioneer Memorial Museum.

The Photograph!

During the celebrations, photographer George Anderson gathered the surviving pioneers from 1847 and posed them for a now-famous photograph in Temple Square. See the faces of over 250 pioneers as they proudly wear their Tiffany badges and gaze through one hundred years of history.

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