Mormon Corridor

The Mormon Corridor is the areas of Western North America that were settled between 1850 and approximately 1890 by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), who are commonly known as Mormons.[1]

In academic literature, the area is also commonly called the Mormon culture region.[2][3] It has also been referred to as the Book of Mormon belt as a cultural reference to the Bible Belt of the southeastern United States, and the Book of Mormon.

Map of USA highlighting Jello Belt
The Mormon corridor, highlighted in red


LDS Percentage of Population 2000
LDS percentage of US population by county in 2000

Beginning in Utah, the corridor extends northward through western Wyoming and eastern Idaho to Yellowstone National Park. It reaches south to San Bernardino, California on the west and through Tucson, Arizona on the east, reaches west to the Jordan Valley, Oregon area extending southward to Eldorado, Texas, and finally the U.S.-Mexico border. Settlements in Utah, south of the Wasatch Front, stretched from St. George in the southwest to Nephi in the northeast, including the Sevier River valley. The corridor is roughly congruent with the area between present-day Interstate 15 and U.S. Route 89. Outside of the Wasatch Front, and Utah's Cache Valley, most of the population of the state resides in this corridor. Outside of the Western United States, isolated Mormon settlements were also founded in Western Canada (Cardston, Alberta, parts of British Columbia and Yukon Territory); and Mexico (the states of Baja California, Chihuahua and Sonora).


The larger chain of Mormon settlements, ranging from Canada to Mexico, were initially established as agricultural centers or to gain access to metals and other materials needed by the expanding Mormon population. The communities also served as waystations for migration and trade centered on Salt Lake City during the mid- to late 19th century.

Communities in the generally fertile but relatively dry valleys of the Great Basin, Southeastern Idaho, Nevada and Arizona were dependent on water supplies. Irrigation systems, including wells, dams, canals, headgates, and ditches, were among the first projects for a new community. Road access to timber in the mountains and pasturage for stock were important, as were carefully tended crops, gardens and orchards.

Initial settlements

Brigham Young, President of the LDS Church (1847-1877), personally supervised the founding of many outlying communities. Exploring parties were sent out to find settlement sites, and to identify sources of appropriate minerals, timber, and water. Western historian Leonard Arrington asserts that within ten years of the LDS arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, “…nearly 100 colonies had been planted; by 1867, more than 200; and by the time of (Brigham Young’s) death in 1877, nearly 400 colonies.”[4] These colonies had four distinct purposes: "...first, settlements intended to be temporary places of gathering and recruitment, such as Carson Valley in Nevada; second, colonies to serve as centers for production, such as iron at Cedar City, cotton at St. George, cattle in Cache Valley, and sheep in Spanish Fork, all in Utah; third, colonies to serve as centers for proselytizing and assisting Indians, as at Harmony in southern Utah, Las Vegas in southern Nevada, Fort Lemhi (north-central Idaho near the Lemhi Pass), and present-day Moab in eastern Utah; fourth, permanent colonies in Utah and nearby states and territories to provide homes and farms for the hundreds of new immigrants arriving each summer."[4]

At times, Young or his agents met incoming wagon trains of Mormon pioneers, assigning the groups a secondary destination to establish a new community. After a relatively brief rest in the growing communities of the Salt Lake Valley, the groups would restock needed supplies and materials, gather livestock, and travel on. In addition, new colonizers could be called from the pulpit. Young read the names of men and their families who were "called" to move to outlying regions. These "missions" for church members often lasted for years, as the families were to remain in their assigned area until released from the calling or given a new assignment. Colonizers traveled at their own expense and success depended on appropriate supplies and personal resourcefulness, as well as uncontrolled variables such as water supplies and weather.

Several of these colonies could also have provided support for a second migration of the Latter-day Saints which might have become necessary due to pressure by the U.S. government, starting with the Utah War. Some settlements were associated with existing or prior towns, and many were abandoned once the threat of persecution decreased after the 1890 Manifesto, and the transportation system in the Western United States matured. The First Transcontinental Railroad was especially significant in reinforcing or altering settlement patterns.

After Young's death in 1877, successive leaders of the LDS Church continued to establish new settlements in outlying areas of the west. The Salt River Valley in western Wyoming, now known as Star Valley, was designated for settlement in August 1878, while Bunkerville and Mesquite, Nevada were settled in 1879 and 1880 respectively.[5] Communities were also established in eastern and southeastern Utah and western Colorado, primarily populated by LDS converts from the southern United States. Historians James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard estimate that at least 120 new LDS based settlements were founded between 1876 and 1879.[5]

Settlements due to opposition to polygamy

Mounting legislation and prosecution of polygamists within the United States LDS population led to additional expansion. In 1884, LDS President John Taylor encouraged groups of church members in Arizona and New Mexico to cross the border into Mexico, where LDS leaders had investigated settlement opportunities in earlier years. By the end of 1885, however, the Mormon colonists had been denied the opportunity to purchase land within Chihuahua, by order of the acting governor. While the colonists remained on rented land, negotiations between members of the LDS Quorum of Twelve Apostles and Mexican President Porfirio Díaz were successful and legal barriers were lifted.[5] For his help towards the LDS settlers, the first Mormon colony in Mexico was named Colonia Díaz. This settlement was shortly followed by two additional communities, In March 1886 Colonia Juarez and Colonia Dublán, with other smaller settlements emerging in future years.

Taylor instructed Charles Ora Card of Logan, Utah to investigate, and if possible, establish similar communities of refuge in Canada. Card led a small group of explorers into Alberta in 1886 and selected a settlement site. In 1887 enough settlers arrived from northern Utah to establish the community of Cardston.[5] By 1895, many additional LDS based communities had been established in nearby areas in the province, partially because of a labour contract with the Alberta Irrigation Company.[6]

"Jell-O Belt"

The Mormon Corridor has been nicknamed[7] the "Jell-O belt" due to the popularity of Jell-O in the region. One of the official pins for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City was a green Jell-O jiggler in the shape of the state[8].

According to the Los Angeles Times, "Salt Lake City is America's Jell-O-eating capital. Every man, woman and child in Salt Lake City buys two boxes of the stuff annually, or twice the national average, says Mary Jane Kinkade of Jell-O brand gelatin-maker Kraft Foods. Utah residents also eat twice as much lime Jell-O as anyone else on the planet."[9]

See also


  1. ^ "The Old Mormon Fort --Reading 1". Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  2. ^ The Current State of the Mormon Culture Region This reference also includes a map, by county of Leading Church Bodies from 2000
  3. ^ Yorgason, Ethan R. (2003). Transformation of the Mormon Culture Region. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02853-3. (Selected text)
  4. ^ a b "Brigham Young". Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d Allen, James B.; Leonard, Glen M. (1976). The Story of the Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book (in collaboration with the Historical Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). pp. 385–388. ISBN 0-87747-594-6.
  6. ^ Hicken, John R (1968). Events Leading to the Settlement of the Communities of Cardston, Magrath, Stirling and Raymond, Alberta. Logon, Utah: Utah State University. p. 70. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  7. ^ "The Jello Belt: Mormon Culture and Burnout". LDS Magazine. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Wyman, Carolyn (February 13, 2002), "In Utah, It's Good to Be Green (Jell-O)", Los Angeles Times

External links

Bible Belt

The Bible Belt is an informal region in the Southern United States in which socially conservative evangelical Protestantism plays a strong role in society and politics, and Christian church attendance across the denominations is generally higher than the nation's average.

The region is usually contrasted with the religiously diverse Midwest and Great Lakes, the Mormon Corridor in Utah and southern Idaho, and the relatively secular Western and New England regions of the United States. Whereas the state with the highest percentage of residents identifying as non-religious is the New England state of Vermont at 37%, in the Bible Belt state of Alabama it is just 12%. Tennessee has the highest proportion of Evangelical Protestants, at 52%. The Evangelical influence is strongest in northern Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, and eastern Texas. The earliest known usage of the term "Bible Belt" was by American journalist and social commentator H. L. Mencken, who in 1924 wrote in the Chicago Daily Tribune: "The old game, I suspect, is beginning to play out in the Bible Belt." In 1927, Mencken claimed the term as his invention.

Culture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The basic beliefs and traditions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) have a cultural impact that distinguishes church members, practices and activities. The culture is geographically concentrated in the Mormon Corridor in the United States, and is present to a lesser extent in many places of the world where Latter-day Saints live.

In some aspects, Latter-day Saint culture is distinct from church doctrine. Cultural practices which are centrally based on church doctrine include adhering the church's law of health, paying tithing, living the law of chastity, participation in lay leadership of the church, refraining from work on Sundays when possible, family home evenings, and home and visiting teaching. The church also emphasizes the moral standards that Mormons believe were taught by Jesus Christ, including personal honesty, integrity, obedience to law, chastity outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage.

The majority of Latter-day Saints live outside the United States. Therefore, even though the global differences are important, there are some common traits around Latter-day Saints worldwide.

Eastern Idaho

Eastern Idaho is the area of Idaho lying east of the Magic Valley region. It is generally understood to include: Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Bonneville, Butte, Caribou, Clark, Custer, Franklin, Fremont, Jefferson, Madison, Oneida, Power and Teton Counties. In terms of culture much of the region is in the Mormon Corridor and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plays a major role in the lives of a majority of the region's residents.

Frogeye salad

Frogeye salad (also frog-eye salad or frog's eye salad) is a type of sweet pasta salad (dessert salad) made with small, round acini di pepe pasta, whipped topping and egg yolks. Fruit, such as mandarin oranges and pineapples, are often mixed in, and it is sometimes topped with marshmallows, all of which contribute to the sweetness while adding variety. The humorous name obviously refers to the pasta looking like frog's eyes.

The salad has a strong regional presence in Utah and surrounding states (the Mormon Corridor), especially among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Institute of Religion

Institutes of Religion are local organizations that provide religious education for young adults (ages 18–30) who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Local institutes may function in church meetinghouses, but may also have a stand-alone building situated adjacent to colleges or universities (especially those found in the Mormon Corridor areas in the Western United States and Canada). The LDS Church describes the purpose of the Institute program as "weekday religious instruction for single and married postsecondary students." Institutes of Religion are professionally directed as part of the Church Educational System, with responsibility for the seminary program and the church's higher education institutions, including Brigham Young University (BYU).

In addition to offering classes, Institutes often sponsor activities, such as dances, aimed at the needs of postsecondary students between 18–30 years old. Young adult church members are encouraged, although not required, to be enrolled in an Institute class whenever possible. In areas with a large LDS population, there are often special-needs Institutes that serve adults who have mental or physical handicaps. These Institutes adapt their curricula to meet individual student needs.

Among the standard Institute course offerings are classes on the Book of Mormon, Old Testament, New Testament, the Doctrine and Covenants, and other modern revelation. Institute classes are offered on campus at LDS higher education institutions, such as BYU. However, BYU students are required to take religion classes offered by the university. Students can transfer Institute course credit to BYU for a nominal charge and can graduate from the Institute program after completing 14 course credit hours.

The first Institute of Religion was established in 1926 in Moscow, Idaho, adjacent to the University of Idaho. Its first director was J. Wyley Sessions. The Logan Institute of Religion was the first institute opened in Utah. There are currently 350,000 students in over 2,700 locations.

Intermountain West

The Intermountain West, or Intermountain Region, is a geographic and geological region of the Western United States. It is located between the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains on the east and the Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada on the west.

Latter-day Saint settlements in Canada

The following communities were founded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in Alberta:

1887 — Cardston

1888 — Aeran

1890 — Mountain View

1891 — Beazer

1893 — Leavitt

1897 — Kimball

1898 — Caldwell, Magrath, Stirling, Taylorville

1901 — Orton, Raymond

1902 — Frankburg, Taber

1908 — Glenwood

1910 — HillspringThe following communities were founded by LDS Church members or missionaries:



Del Bonita

List of belt regions of the United States

The belt regions of the United States are portions of the country that share certain characteristics. The "belt" terminology was first applied to growing regions for various crops, which often follow lines of latitude because those are more likely to have similar climates. The allusion was to a long clothing belt, as seen on a map.The usage has expanded to other climatic, economic, and cultural concentrations. These regions are not formally defined; they frequently overlap and have vague borders. The terminology is also used outside the U.S. (e.g., India's Hindi Belt).

List of historic sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds a number of sites as historically significant. This list is intended as a quick reference for these sites. The sites may or may not be owned by the church.

Mobsters and Mormons

Mobsters and Mormons is a 2005 comedy film. It was written, directed, and produced by John Moyer who also plays a role in the film. It is also produced by Kurt Hale and Dave Hunter of Halestorm Entertainment. This film features some Mormon (LDS Church) centric humor that is meant to appeal to Mormon audiences. It also contains broad audience humor.

Carmine (Mark DeCarlo) is part of the mob in Philadelphia, hoping to soon be promoted to captain. While taking care of business, he and his team are photographed by the FBI performing illegal activities. After some discussion, Carmine decides to testify against his boss, then goes into the Witness Protection Program. His family is moved to Utah, in the heart of the Mormon Corridor.

Muddy River (Nevada)

The Muddy River, formerly known as the Moapa River, is a short river located in Clark County, in southern Nevada, United States. It is in the Mojave Desert, approximately 60 miles (97 km) north of Las Vegas.

Pleasanton, New Mexico

Pleasanton is a census-designated place in the Williams Valley of Catron County, south of Glenwood and north of Cliff, in the U.S. state of New Mexico. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 106. It was renowned as a safehaven for Mormon polygamists for several years.

Tabernacle (LDS Church)

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), a tabernacle is a multipurpose religious building, used for church services and conferences, and as community centers. Tabernacles were typically built as endeavors of multiple congregations (termed wards or branches), usually at the stake level. They differ from meetinghouses in scale and differ from temples in purpose.There were 79 total tabernacles built during the mid-to-late nineteenth and early twentieth century, usually within areas of the Mormon Corridor that had predominantly Latter-day Saint populations. The largest such tabernacle is in Salt Lake City on Temple Square. The last tabernacle commissioned by the church was the Ogden Stake Tabernacle, built in the 1950s.

While some tabernacles are still used for a few ecclesiastical and community cultural activities, stake centers are now normally used in their place. Many tabernacles have been demolished, sold, or renovated and repurposed into temples (e.g. Vernal Utah Temple, Provo Tabernacle).

Prior to 2000, the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square was used twice a year for the church's general conferences. In April 2000, the conferences moved one block north to the LDS Conference Center.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New Mexico

As of year-end 2017, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) reported 69,627 members in 14 stakes, 143 Congregations (100 wards and 43 branches), 1 mission, and 1 temple in New Mexico.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Wyoming

As of December 31, 2017, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported 67,275 members in 17 stakes, 167 congregations (145 wards and 22 branches), one mission, and one temple.

Stakes are located in Afton, Casper, Cheyenne (2), Cody, Evanston (2), Gillette, Green River, Kemmerer, Laramie, Lovell, Lyman, Riverton, Rock Springs, Thayne and Worland.

The Wyoming Mormon Trail Mission was created in 2015.

The Saratov Approach

The Saratov Approach is a 2013 American dramatic thriller film written and directed by Garrett Batty. The film depicts the 1998 kidnapping of two missionaries in Russia. It began a limited release on October 9, 2013, solely in Utah. Subsequently, the film was released throughout the Mormon Corridor. On January 10, 2014, the film began an expanded limited release throughout the United States.

"Belt" regions of the United States

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