Southern Utah’s Desert Outpost

Making Peace with the Past, Pursuing Peace in the Present

September 12-15, 2024

For the first time in its storied history, the John Whitmer Historical Association’s annual conference will be held west of the Missouri River, in Southern Utah.

St. George, Utah, located in the Southwest’s striking Red Rocks, became a unique and challenging outpost. In 1854, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints established an Indian mission in Santa Clara, several miles north of St. George. Seven years later, more than 300 families were assigned by Brigham Young to establish a city. Here saints with Southern farming backgrounds were called to plant cotton as the Civil War began to interfere with cotton’s availability. Settling in the ancient Puebloan areas, where 3,000-year-old petroglyphs are still visible, the pioneers encountered nomadic and established Native American groups. Brigham Young directed construction of a temple and tabernacle, sacred and educational spaces, offering necessary work projects. In this oasis, a revelation on tithing was announced. Cultures converged in mining operations as a rare silver vein in sandstone was discovered.

The Mountain Meadows Massacre, a violent episode with a passing Arkansas wagon train, transpired 30 miles northwest of St. George. Juanita Brooks referred to this area as the “Ragged Edge,” as travelers accessed the southern leg of the California Trail and Mormon Trail to San Bernardino, a major outpost for Restoration groups. Australian and Pacific Latter-day Saints used these trails, traveling northward seeking promising outposts on the periphery of Zion.

As Restoration groups have enjoyed mobility on a global scale, new outposts have greatly influenced our histories. How have these outposts succeeded or collapsed as they have sought to establish religious communities? How has your experience living, researching, and working in “outposts” contributed to your perspective of Restoration history?

Come join us in the beautiful “Color Country” of St. George, Utah, next to majestic Zion National Park, and only 90 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada, for an unforgettable JWHA 2024 conference.

We look forward to hearing your historical research either with individual papers or as part of a panel discussion. We also encourage theological papers related to our Restoration Studies track. Please submit your 100-200 word proposals by April 6, 2024, to