Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Murray City Cemetery - Half Way Camp

I was born and raised in Murray, Utah, as was my dad and the whole Larson family.  My mother was born and raised in an area called Brinton or Cottonwood, which was just east of Murray.  Today that area is right where the border between Holladay and Cottonwood Heights comes together.

It was just natural that my mother and father were buried in the Murray City Cemetery along with most of the other Larsons and a number of my mother's family.  As a result I visit there quite often to take flowers and such.

One thing I had never realized though was that the area where the Murray City Cemetery sits was the Half Way Camp for the teams and teamsters hauling the granite from the quarries in Little Cottonwood Canyon to the Temple site in Salt Lake where the Temple was being built.

One of the tasks in the construction of the Temple was getting the granite blocks from the quarries to the construction site where they could be cut to size and smoothed.

For the first 15+ years of construction hauling the granite was a monumental project and even though alternatives were tried, like a canal to float the granite to the site, nothing proved workable until the railroad was finally here and able to transport the granite to the construction site.

During the initial years wagons hauled the granite and the wagons were usually pulled by Oxen.  There would be 3-4 yoke of oxen on each wagon and there were 60 wagons.  Many of the wagons were reinforced to hold the weight.

The haul from Granite, as the area came to be known as, was a four day round trip.  The wagons were broken into 4 groups of 15 wagons each.  While one group loaded at the quarry another group would be at the Temple site unloading.  The other 2 groups would be traveling to and from.

The first days trip would put the wagons and teams at the half way point where they could rest eat and take care of the animals, the next day they would arrive at the Temple site where they could unload so they could make the return trip and start the process again.

This process went on for 15-20 years until the railroad reached Promontory Summit in 1869.  For a couple of years during this time the work of hauling was suspended so the workmen could assist in the construction of the railroad.

It was understood that the railroad would be a huge benefit in the building of the Temple because the hauling of the granite was the major problem and slowdown.

With the completion of the transcontinental rail line there was no time wasted in establishing a line running south to Sandy and then on into Utah County.

A spur line was then run from Sandy to the quarries in the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon which greatly sped up the process of getting granite to the Temple site.  As things progressed  the line was run further up the canyon and the quarry was moved to a location higher in the canyon into a field of a better grade of granite.

Construction on the Temple began in 1853 and when Brigham Young died in 1877 the granite was only up to the first story.  In the years that followed things moved much more quickly and the capstone was set on April 6, 1892.      

At that capstone ceremony Wilford Woodruff pushed a button and the capstone was set on the Temple with the use of electricity.  What a change from when they first entered this valley.  President Woodruff also challenged the saints to make a concerted effort to finish the interior of the Temple so that it could be dedicated one year later on April 6, 1893.

April 6, 1893, the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated completing 40 years of labor and sacrifice.

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