Remember this Pioneer Day weekend that our best days are ahead of us.  We will invent and do great things, there is plenty of room for new pioneers.

Over 160 years ago a group of pioneers came into Salt Lake Valley with the intent of taming the land and settling the area.

It was an arid area full of sagebrush and some trees mostly along the natural waterways that wandered through the valley.

This group of pioneers was inadvertently blessed by the efforts of Lanford Hastings and the doomed Donner Party of 1846.

Lanford Hastings thought he found a new and faster route to California going south of the Great Salt Lake and across the desert.  It was not so bad if you were on horseback but with loaded wagons it was very difficult.

The Donner party used the Hastings cutoff and had to build roads to get their wagons through and helped to blaze the trail for the later Mormon Pioneers.  Because of the difficulty of the Hastings Cutoff and the subsequent delays in travel the Donner Party was stranded in the Sierra Nevada Mountains by heavy snows and suffered through the winter eventually resorting to cannibalism.

The Hastings cutoff lost a lot of luster because of the Donner tragedy.

The next year the Mormon Pioneers followed the Hastings Cutoff and some of the road laid by the Donner Party before arriving in Salt Lake Valley and starting to build a very amazing place and future state.

In less than 20 years the Mormon settlers founded and began settlements all over Utah, Idaho, East Nevada, Colorado and even in California.

This is a great time of year to think about pioneers and pioneering.

The greatest achievements we know about are because of the people who have gone before.  Every major invention, innovation, scientific breakthrough or discovery has happened because of foundational work done by people before.

The Mormon pioneers did not make it here by themselves.  They had help from other explorers who visited the area and wrote about it.  They had help from Mr. Hastings and the Donner party as mentioned above.

The ongoing accomplishments of the Pioneers were made possible by all of the individuals who were part of the company.  There were craftsman, mechanics, blacksmiths, farmers, ranchers, and other masters of machinery.  They were able to harvest the natural power of running water, fire, and the materials available in the land.

A regular home life was every bit as necessary as skilled labor.  The women often worked alongside the men on the farm, in the home, in raising children, and keeping the home safe and welcoming.  Many women were the head of the household because they were widows or their husbands were off on other assignments keeping them away from home.

Each individual who moved here and made a life in the middle of the wilderness was a pioneer.

What about you?  What skills and talents do you have that make you unique?  What passions and abilities do you have that can work together to provide you with a mission worthy of your time and efforts?

Think about that for a bit.  You do have something that only you can do because no one else has the same drive, desire, talents, interests, and aspirations as you.

You could coach a little league team and mentor the youth you work with.  You may have a passion for business or have operated a successful business of your own and want to help younger entrepreneurs make their ideas work.  Maybe you are passionate about exercise and helping people to feel better about themselves.  Maybe dancing or music or science, or some other interest you have is burning inside you.  Philo T. Farnsworth, the man who invented television was a farmer in Idaho.  Great things can come from unexpected places.

There is something you can do to make your community a better place and to help the people around you.  You can be a pioneer in improving people’s lives.  You can make a difference.

Happy Pioneer Day!

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