Brigham Young Summer Cabin
The first Mormon emigrants arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 and immediately began laying the groundwork for the small settlement that would become Salt Lake City. Church President Brigham Young however, had a much grander vision for his people: a Mormon Kingdom of God encompassing some 200,000 square miles.
This Kingdom, called Deseret, was to include today's southeastern Idaho and southwestern Wyoming, western Colorado, Utah, Nevada, southern California, much of Arizona, and parts of Oregon and New Mexico. To secure that vast expanse of Mormondom, Young called hundreds of thousands of followers to Utah, and then sent them out to establish self-sustaining colonies at strategic economic and defensive locations throughout Deseret. His aim was not to close these lands to non-Mormons, but to establish such a strong Mormon hold on the region that the Saints could not be forced out, as they had been forced from several homes in the past.
Although Congress ultimately pared down the proposed Territory of Deseret to the present state of Utah, Young's strategy and his purposeful, hard-working followers profoundly influenced the settlement and later development of the West.
Soda Springs and nearby Chesterfield — 11 miles north of Bancroft — both on the old Oregon Trail, were part of that wave. Soda Springs, originally established as Morristown by Col. Patrick Connor in 1863, was in decline until Mormon church officials had a summer home built there for Brigham Young. In 1871, Mormon colonizers established the present town site.
Today, Soda Springs is a thriving, modern community — a celebration of the success of Brigham Young's colonization strategy. Chesterfield, now open to visitors as a National Historic District, commemorates the sacrifices that effort demanded of the Mormon pioneers.
(Caption beneath map of Deseret):
We have petitioned the Congress of the United States for the organization of a territorial government here, embracing a territory of about seven hundred miles square, bounded north by Oregon, east by the Rio Grande del Norte, south by the late line between United States and Mexico, and west by the sea coast and California mountains." — Brigham Young. March 9, 1849. In a letter to Orson Pratt and the Saints in England.