Memorial Honors More Than 650 Pioneer Children Who Died Emigrating To Utah

Jul 22, 2019, 7:50 AM | Updated: 8:01 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Stones have been carefully placed and work is complete on a new project meant to honor pioneer children who lost their lives while coming west.

This Is The Place Heritage Park and The Days of ’47, Inc. dedicated a new, one-acre, interactive Pioneer Children’s Memorial at the state park on Sunnyside Avenue in Salt Lake City.

The monument represents more than 650 children known to have died while emigrating to Utah in the mid 1800s. Seventeen large stones are engraved with the names of each known child, and they are stark reminders of the personal sacrifices the parents and children made to settle Utah.

The children’s stories are told by sculptors’ art; graphic displays; and in written, audio and video narratives.

Artists Roger and Stefanie Hunt were responsible for the creation of most of the bronze sculptures in the display.

“One of the things we really tried to instill in these pieces is a sense of effort,” Roger Hunt said. “They are going up a hill, they are pushing this heavy load. We just wanted to humanize the pioneers. They’re not characters in a TV movie; they’re real people with real stories.”

Funded by private donations, the memorial is a combination of 47 sculptures, paintings, large engraved stones, and a water feature surrounded by period landscaping.

“When you start to talk about these children, it tugs at your heart,” said Days of’47 President Lan Summerhayes. “People were so eager and willing to be a part of this project.”

Millions of dollars were raised to make the project a reality.

“It is a great attempt to have people understand how important it was when those pioneers got here,” said This Is the Place Foundation Chair Ellis Ivory. “The sacrifice they made and in this case the many children who didn’t make it here.”

The memorial tour ends with a sweeping view of Salt Lake Valley and a moving bronze sculpture titled “Journey’s End.” Built as a place also for meditation and reflection, there is seating and shade for contemplation, conversation, and appreciation of Utah’s Pioneer heritage.

For more information, go to pioneerchildrensmemorial.com.

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Memorial Honors More Than 650 Pioneer Children Who Died Emigrating To Utah