National monuments in Utah include the obvious: Timpanogas Cave, Bear’s Ears, the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Hovenweep, Dinosaur, Zion, Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce, Capitol Reef, etc. State monuments also include This Is the Place, the Seagull Monument at Temple Square, The Eagle Gate Monument on State Street and South Temple, Joseph Smiths birth place and many others. I would think most people in our state have visited or have heard of our precious national monuments but very few would be pressed to know where some of these State monuments are located.
Brigham Young is buried just east of Temple Square at 140 East First Avenue. Surely, you’ve driven by it a million times if you live in or near the Avenues. At the site is a small garden with four plaques dedicated to the Mormon Pioneers (two of which are dedicated to well-known Mormon hymns). The Seagull Monument is inside Temple Square and is dedicated to ‘the miracle of the gulls’ when supposedly Western Gulls descended out of nowhere to eat the invasion of Mormon Crickets that were annihilating the crops of the early pioneers in the year 1848. A block east are the metal arches above the intersection of State Street and South Temple. These were erected in 1859 and commemorates the original entrance to Brigham Young’s property at the mouth of City Creek Canyon. You’ve driven under this if you head up to the state capitol building. It was originally topped by a wooden eagle (on display at the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum) but was replaced with a 4,000-pound bronze bird with a 20’ wingspan.
Why do I mention monuments? One potential site has been in the news lately because a local developer wanted to build a high-end celebrity rehab center right above it, making access to the public difficult or not at all. I tell of our legendary beautiful Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon. Legend has it that an indigenous girl named Norita fell in love with a rival tribe boy named Grey Eagle. The classic Romeo and Juliet-like story went simply that elders from both tribes found out about the forbidden love and told her that they had killed her lover, and so she leapt over the falls to join him in the spirit world. Mother Nature felt badly for the girl and turned her hair into a bridal veil of falling water. It’s a drop dead gorgeous site because it’s a year-round stream of water that flows 607 feet down from springs above Cascade Mountain there in the canyon. It’s a natural wonder and I don’t believe this kind of thing should ever be owned privately.
Luckily Utah County Commissioners placed the county-owned falls in a protected conservation easement last year. This pissed off the potential developer who then filed a lawsuit. Luckily Richard Losee, the developer, has now backed off of the lawsuit since Utah County has asked state legislators to designate this a state monument this year which will protect this natural landmark for future generations.