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Posted 10 Sep 2001   For week ended September 07, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 06Sep01

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. Forest Service.

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, Arkansas.

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
Associated Press

See also:

Mormon News' Coverage of the Mountain Meadows Massacre Site


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