“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
La Verkin in Washington County, Utah — The American Mountains (Southwest)

Southern Exploring Company – 1849

Parley P. Pratt


—Southern Utah Expedition —

Southern Exploring Company – 1849 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, August 28, 2012
1. Southern Exploring Company – 1849 Marker
Inscription. The confluence of Ash and LaVerkin Creeks with the Virgin River is important in the history of this region. Footsteps long forgotten have passed through this region. Some have been remembered but most have faded with time. Roaming bands of Indians, Spanish explorers, trappers and finally settlers came. Regrettably, we know little of the history before the mid 1800’s when a Mormon exploring party came through in 1849. They had been sent south by Brigham Young to find locations with the right combinations of water, soil, timber, grazing and climate for possible settlements.
In November 1849 Brigham commissioned Parley P. Pratt to assemble an exploring party of 50 men with necessary wagons and provisions to explore the southern region. Called the Southern Exploring Company, its instructions were to explore south to the rim of the Great Basin, over the rim to the Virgin River country, go no farther than Las Vegas Springs and return by spring.
The party left Salt Lake November 23, 1849. They would travel 716 miles before returning. The trip was more arduous than they imagined, the snow deeper, the temperatures colder (as low as 30 below Zero), and the terrain more rugged. To get through the Tushar Mountains, oxen had to be pulled up with ropes so they could then pull the wagons. The party camped at Heaps Spring (Parowan) on Christmas
Southern Exploring Company – 1849 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, August 28, 2012
2. Southern Exploring Company – 1849 Marker
Eve. Here the party was divided. Thirty men and the wagons remained, while the other 20 men accompanied Parley on horseback to explore farther south. The men struggled down Ash Creek and camped below this monument on the broad floodplain of the confluence on the night of December 30, 1849. Learning from Chief Toquer's Indians that shortly below the confluence, the river enters a narrow, precipitous gorge, they crossed the river near the confluence and climbed the bluff onto the site of present day Hurricane. They then turned west and proceeded to the mouth of the Santa Clara River, passing through the future St. George region on New Years Day 1850. From there they followed the Santa Clara upstream past present day Gunlock and then on to Mountain Meadows, rejoining the rest of the Party in Parowan on January 7.
The return trip was even more perilous. They bogged down in the marshes west of Beaver, battled heavy snows and a continuous frigid wind. Near present day Fillmore some of the men, too exhausted to continue, were left behind. Their food supply dwindling and nearly snow blind, Pratt and Chauncey West went on alone the last 50 miles to Provo arriving Jan 28th. Within an hour or two a rescue party loaded with provisions headed south but it wasn't until March 28th that the last of the expedition rolled back into Salt Lake.
Parley reported to the legislature at
Southern Exploring Company – 1849 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, August 28, 2012
3. Southern Exploring Company – 1849 Marker
Virgin River is in background.
least twenty six desirable locations for settlement from Payson to Santa Clara. He was less than enthusiastic about the "dreary" Virgin River country, calling it "a wide expanse of chaotic matter…a country in ruins."
Many of the Exploring Company were later called to settle the Iron and Cotton Missions. We owe a great debt to these and others who settled these harsh lands, wrestled from the earth a meager existence, and forged out a place for us amidst the stark beauty of these mountains.
Parley P Pratt, President
David Fullmer, Counselor
William W. Phelps, Counselor/Engineer
John Brown, Company Captain
Robert Campbell, Clerk
First Ten: Isaac Haight, Captain • Parley P Pratt • William Wadsworth • Rufus Allen • Chauncey West • Dan Jones • Hial K Gay • George B. Matson • Samuel Could • William B. Vance
Second Ten: Joseph Matthews, Captain • John Brown • Nathan Tanner • Sterling G. Driggs • Homer Duncan • William Matthews • John D. Holladay • Schuyler Jennings • John J. Bankhead • Robert M. Smith
Third Ten: Joseph Horne, Captain • Alexander Wright • David Fullmer • William Brown • George Nebeker • Benjamin F. Stewart • James Farrer • Henry Heath • Seth B. Tanner • Alexander Lemon
Forth Ten: Ephraim Green, Captain • William W.
Southern Exploring Company – 1849 Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Kirchner, August 28, 2012
4. Southern Exploring Company – 1849 Marker
A duplicate 'Southern Exploring Company – 1849 Marker' is across the river in the center of the photograph.
Phelps • Charles Hopkins • William Henrie • Peter Dustin • Thomas E. Ricks • Robert Campbell • Isaac Brown
Fifth Ten: Josiah Arnold, Captain • Christopher Williams • Stephen Taylor • Dimick B. Huntington • John C. Armstrong • Isaac B. Hatch • Jonathan Packer
Joined Company in Sanpete: Gardner G Potter • Madison D. Hambleton • Sylvester Hewlitt • John Lowry, Jr. • Edward Everett
Erected 2007 by Hurricane Valley Chapter, Sons of Utah Pioneers. (Marker Number 135.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Sons of Utah Pioneers marker series.
Location. 37° 12.095′ N, 113° 17.03′ W. Marker is in La Verkin, Utah, in Washington County. Marker is on Center Street 0.6 miles west of Utah Route 9, in the median. Click for map. Marker is at far west end of Center Street by the Virgin River. . Marker is in this post office area: La Verkin UT 84745, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Southern Exploring Company - 1849 (approx. half a mile away); La Verkin (approx. 0.8 miles away); Look-out Point (approx. 0.9 miles away); La Verkin Canal (approx. one mile away); Hurricane Canal (approx. one mile away); Hurricane/LaVerkin Bridge (approx. one mile away); The Historic Hurricane Canal (approx. 1.3 miles away); The Historic Dixie-Long Valley, Utah Pioneer Trail (approx. 1.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in La Verkin.
Categories. ExplorationSettlements & Settlers
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona. This page has been viewed 257 times since then and 51 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Bill Kirchner of Tucson, Arizona. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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