July 1984

“Contents,” Ensign, July 1984, 1


July 1984

Volume 14 Number 7

On the cover: Saints Entering the Bighorn Basin, by Harold Hopkinson, 36″ by 30″, oil on canvas, 1982.

Inside front cover: Prayer Rock, by Harold Hopkinson, 36″ by 40″ oil on canvas, 1983.

In the spring of 1900, thirty-five families were called by President Lorenzo Snow to settle the Shoshone Valley in northern Wyoming (see cover painting). Upon arrival, one of their first tasks was to build a canal to carry irrigation water from the Shoshone River to their land. Three miles into the canal, the men found a huge rock directly in the canal’s path.

It was decided to scrape a large hole on the lower side of the rock, put powder under the upper side, and let the force of the blast roll the rock into the hole. But after a few days of work, when the hole was ten feet deep, it seemed dangerous to continue the project. That evening and the next morning the men asked in their prayers for special protection and help in moving the rock. Work continued, yet the following day the rock was still firmly in place. Then shortly after 3:30 P.M., President Byron Sessions, branch president and superintendent of the project, felt impressed to call the men and horses out of the hole. A few minutes later the rock began to split from top to bottom, and the largest part of the rock fell into the hole.

The smaller part of the rock—known as Prayer Rock since that day—still stands on the upper bank of the Sidon Canal.

Inside back cover: Two Rare Paintings by a Pioneer

The nature of the arduous and on-going pioneer trek to Salt Lake Valley in the nineteenth century left little time for pursuits such as painting the scenes and events of the journey. However, one early pioneer, George Martin Ottinger, did paint at least two scenes of his 1861 journey to Zion. Brother Ottinger joined the Church in 1858, apparently in Pennsylvania, at age 25. He died in 1917.

Chimney Rock, August 3, 1861, by George M. Ottinger, 6 1/4″ by 13″, oil on canvas

This celebrated landmark on the Oregon Trail is located in western Nebraska. It stands five hundred feet above the Platte River and can be seen from thirty miles away. Many emigrants climbed Chimney Rock to carve their names upon its tower.

Mormon Immigration Wagon Train at Green River, by George M. Ottinger, 12″ by 18 1/2″, oil on canvas, 1861.

Pioneers crossed the Green River in western Wyoming, near the mouth of Steed Canyon. Run-off from nearby mountains made the river deep, swift, and difficult to cross. Early pioneers camped at the base of a high bluff near the river while building rafts to float wagons and teams to the other side.