Walking through history
About 150 years ago, my great-great grandfather James and his family left Denmark on a ship, bound for the promise of the United States. Like so many immigrants of his generation, he arrived in New York with little but his dreams. During the voyage, his mother became very ill - sick enough that she could not travel on from the city. James’ father sent James and his older brother ahead to Utah.
James was 16, his brother 18, the two of them children in a new world.
Little by little, the two young men worked their way west, taking laboring jobs and learning the ways of their new home. They wound up in Nebraska for a time, just long enough to make a little money. Then, they joined a wagon train and walked - walked - the 1,000 miles to Utah.
Sometimes in the evenings, when the sun makes shadows of the Wasatch Mountains, I try to imagine what it would have been like, taking one step after another through the oceanic prairies, the towering peaks. They crested that final summit and looked down on a space that would become home. In the years to come, they would homestead a 120-acre farm and help build the water infrastructure that made farming the valley possible. Their descendants would become members of a thriving community. But they couldn’t have known that then. All they would have seen then was a vast stretch of sagebrush, and the flowering desert they could imagine but were far, yet, from seeing.