By Kent Larsen
Mountain Meadows Controversy Hits Proposed Restroom
ST GEORGE, UTAH -- The site of one of the most controversial incidents in
Mormon history can't even have a restroom built without disagreement.
Construction of a restroom for the historical site commemorating the 1857
Mountain Meadows Massacre has halted after an Arkansas descendant of the
victims objected that the building didn't have the name of the Mountain
Meadows Association on it.
Volunteers cleared shrubs and began preparing the ground for the
construction of the restroom, a project of the Southern Utah Home Builder's
Association, on July 25th. But no further work on the site has been done
since then because of the complaint. "[The descendant] says it wasn't fair,
and he wanted it stopped," said U.S. Forest Service ranger Bevan Killpack.
The building will sit on a portion of the site that is owned by the U.S.
Kent Bylund, a St George developer and member of both the Southern Utah Home
Builder's Association and the Mountain Meadows Association, also says that
the builders need a Forest Service permit that they had neglected to obtain.
An application for the permit has been submitted, and Killpack believes the
objection and the permit will be overcome soon, "I'm sure we'll have
everything signed by the end of September and they can begin building."
Killpack says that visits to the site have increased substantially in recent
years, amid publicity over the rebuilding of a monument on the site and
controversy over the discovery during its construction of remains of some
victims. "It's amazing how many people come. It's probably doubled, and on a
weekend like Labor Day weekend, I think we'll get up to 150 people coming
there. They definitely need those restrooms," said Killpack.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints decided to rebuild the
Mountain Meadows Massacre monument in 1999, trying to bring some closure to
the painful memories of all involved. But during the preliminary excavation
for the new monument, the remains of some of the victims were inadvertently
unearthed, along with a few related artifacts, including some buttons and
some small pieces of metal. The remains of the victims were reburied on the
site, while the LDS Church donated the artifacts to a museum in Berryville,
The massacre was committed by a group of LDS settlers and Paiute Indians,
who killed most of the members of the approximately 120-member Fancher wagon
train, who were trying to travel from Arkansas to California. They had been
promised safe passage, but were attacked instead. A major in the Mormon
militia, John D. Lee, was one of a group of people excommunicated as a
result of the massacre. Almost 20 years after the event, Lee was taken back
to the site, and was tried and executed there.
Tiff puts restroom on hold at Mountain Meadows Massacre site
St George UT Spectrum 3Sep01 N6
Mormon News' Coverage of the Mountain Meadows Massacre Site