The original marker for the highway was hit and destroyed by a driver in 1946. This one was erected in 1992 on the 50th anniversary of the highway.
Church leaders designated a 10-acre plot of ground as Temple Square, instructing surveyors to lay out the city on a grid pattern that would be square with the compass and with the temple in the middle. Original pioneers named streets according to their distance and direction from Temple Square - 600 South is six blocks south of Temple Square; 300 West is three blocks to the west, and so on.
In building the temple, workers painstakingly chiseled out huge granite blocks that weighed from 2,500 to 5,600 pounds each from Little Cottonwood Canyon, approximately 20 miles from the temple site. The blocks were then carefully transported to Temple Square, first by ox-drawn wagon and later by railroad. There, expert stonecutters carved the blocks to fit perfectly into place.
Most of the work was done by donated labor as pioneer men and women took time off from the backbreaking work of establishing their "Zion" to contribute their time, skills and materials to the temple project. The temple was completed in 1893, more than 40 years after construction officially began. Brigham Young did not live to see its completion.
With Salt Lake City being in the heart of Mormon country, our visit had to start at Temple Square and the building downtown. The square is still owned and maintained by the Mormon Church. It has the Temple, two Visitor Centers each featuring displays on Mormon history, the Church Tabernacle, the Family Research Library for genealogy, museums, historical homes, and several other Church buildings. The only building that tourists may not tour is the Temple itself as only "Temple recommended" members of the Latter Day Saints are allowed inside.
The red sandstone for the Tabernacle's 46 supporting piers was quarried from Red Butte Canyon, east of Salt Lake City. Nearly 1.5 million feet of lumber was hauled from the Wasatch Mountains to complete the project.
Throughout the grounds are native trees and shrubs, including blue spruce, Oregon-grape, giant Sequoia, coastal Redwood, Japanese maple, several Dogwood species, Bradford pear, Cherry tree species, English holly, rhododendron and magnolia tree species. One Douglas fir tree was grown using a seed that rode aboard Apollo 14 to the Moon in 1971 and was transplanted to the capitol in 1976 from Oregon State University.