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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended May 07, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 10May00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Little-known Parley P. Pratt Expedition Subject Of Book
Salt Lake Tribune 7May00 A4
By Martin Napersteck: Special to the Tribune

Over the Rim Edited by William B. Smart and Donna T. Smart; Utah State University Press; $37.95 hardcover, $19.95 softcover

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Parley P. Pratt was sent by Brigham Young in 1849 to survey Southern Utah and identify possible locations for settlements. In a letter to Pratt, Young wrote that the idea was "to explore the valleys three hundred miles south and also the country as far as the Gulf of California with a view to settlement and to acquiring a seaport." Pratt's party left in late November 1849, returning in late March 1850.

The book Over the Rim includes Pratt's official report of the expedition, and the journals of four members of the expedition, along with notes and explanations written by the Smarts, which take up well over half the book. It cover's the expedition, which only reached as far as St. George, Utah, but in retrospect had a significant impact on Utah and LDS history, as the expediction identified sites for settlement that later became the towns of Spanish Fork, Payson, Nephi, Salina, Richfield, Marysvale, Paragonah, Parowan, Cedar City, Toquerville and St. George.

Tribune reviewer Naperstack says that while the nature of the journals and reports threatens a dry book, the Smarts have managed to avoid the problem. They frequently digress from the narrative, providing interesting tidbits that help the book. By way of digression, the book tells about the brewery started by frontiersman Orrin Porter Rockwell and the story of Indian interpreter Elijah Barnet Ward, who got himself killed during the Black Hawk War. The Smarts also include an account of the 11-year-long project to build an 8-mile long canal at the town of Hurricane.

The Smarts have included 50 mini-biographies at the end of the book, one for each of the expedition members. Members included Isaac Haight, later one of the Mormon leaders at the Mountain Meadows Massacre and Thomas E. Ricks, who founded what later became Ricks College in 1888.

Naparsteck concludes saying that the journals included in Over the Rim make it an important primary source, but that its digressions make it a good read also. William B. Smart was an editor of the Deseret News, and his wife Donna, has edited several Mormon documents, including the 1864-1888 Diaries of Patty Barlett Sessions.


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See Also: More about the Hardcover of "Over the Rim : The Parley P. Pratt Exploring Expedition to Southern Utah, 1849-50" By William B. Smart and Donna Toland Smart at


More about the Softcover of "Over the Rim : The Parley P. Pratt Exploring Expedition to Southern Utah, 1849-50" By William B. Smart and Donna Toland Smart at

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information