In 1971, the state legislature appropriated money to create a living history museum at the site. Two years later, the relocation of Brigham Young’s now-restored Forest Farmhouse from the Valley to the park sparked a project that added log cabins and historic homes to the site.
The visitor center, a replica of an 1853 sugar mill, is a good place to begin a visit to the park. Start with a screening of a film that tells the story of the pioneer journey. Next, head off on an exploration of what pioneer life was like back in the 1800s.
Costumed guides demonstrate early trades like blacksmithing, weaving and tinsmithing in and around original and replicated buildings that include a string of log cabins, several early homes and inns, all filled with original and reproduction furniture.
One interesting structure called the Bowery is made of wood posts, a hardened dirt floor and a roof of thatched brush and willow boughs. The original structure, meant as an early meeting place until a more permanent structure could be built, was erected in a single day at what is now the location of the Mormon Tabernacle on Temple Square.
Another interesting place, the Huntsman Hotel was established by the ancestors of former Republican presidential hopeful, Jon Huntsman, and provided lodging for Brigham Young and hundreds of other travelers through Utah Territory.
The joining of the first transcontinental railroad at Promontory Point on May 10, 1869 is remembered by two replica locomotives, the Union Pacific’s 119 and the Central Pacific’s Jupiter, which take visitors around the park while the conductor gives a narrative on the settlement of the West.
The native Shoshone and Navajos, who lived in the area before the White settlers arrived, are remembered in the Native American Village, where visitors can learn about their culture and customs.