Below: Me next to an Salt Lake Temple Earth Stone. Those puppies are huge!
(Taken roughly where Claude went after the dance his last night in the city, at least in my funky writer brain that has no grip on reality and thinks it really happened.)
One of my favorite pieces of trivia about the Salt Lake Temple is that Brigham Young originally wanted to build it out of . . . adobe.
Seriously. He even lobbied in general conference for it. He argued that adobe would outlast stone. (Wha-ha?)
When I first read that, I was confused. How in the world could he have assumed that the magnificent structure he saw in vision was made out of dried mud? Of course it was gray granite!
At first sandstone won out. It was relatively lightweight and close to the Temple Block. Work moved right along until, due to Johnston's Army, they buried the foundation to protect it and fled the city. As many people know, once the foundation was uncovered some years later, it was cracked and had to be replaced.
That is when the gray granite we know and love was chosen for the stone. Spires of Stone goes into some of the difficulties in transporting the stone and how long it took to bring ONE stone to the temple compared to the sandstone (4 days round trip for one stone versus a couple of stones per day with sandstone). The work basically came to a standstill.
More on the transportation problem in a minute.
So the temple was going to be built out of gray granite after all. But I still couldn't figure out why Brigham Young had ever thought it should have been adobe. He'd seen the temple in vision! Couldn't he tell?
Then I came across a quote from a captain in Johnston's Army, describing what Salt Lake City looked like as they marched through. Many of the homes and other buildings were made from adobe.
Which he described as looking like cut, gray stone.
My opinion is that Brigham Young thought what he saw in vision was the same substance he saw around him all day long. Adobe is what he was familiar with, and it makes sense to me that his mind would have gone there first instead of assuming the grand, gray building was made of granite (which probably wouldn't have even occurred to him).
Back to the stone-hauling issue: So eventually they determined to use the granite up Little Cottonwood Canyon. But as I said, it was seriously heavy and far away.
Leaders tried to come up with all kinds of solutions to the transportation problem, because at the rate they were going, it probably would have taken a century or more to build instead of 40 years. My favorite (because it's just so out there) was building a canal from Big Cottonwood Creek and floating the stones to the Temple Block.
They basically built the canal (quite a feat, considering all the ravines and obstacles it had to get through). It was twenty feet wide at the base, gradually widening at the top, and was four feet deep.
But it didn't work; it wouldn't hold water. W. C. A. Smoot said the soil across an area in Parley's Canyon was loam, which acted like a sieve for the water. It drained about as fast as it came in.
You kind of need water for a canal to work. So the canal idea was abandoned.
They tried a wooden railroad, but it didn't work, either. Wasn't strong enough. They eventually halted work at the quarry and built a commercial railroad that could take dozens of stones to the Temple Block in a day. And that is when the work finally picked up.
In the end, it was a good thing that the Salt Lake Temple took four decades to complete. By the 1893, science and technology had improved to the point where the temple had better heating, hygiene, lighting, plumbing, and more than it possibly could have had even a decade before.
This temple—by far the largest ever built even yet—would serve the people better (and safer) than it could have otherwise. It could immediately handle more people and reach its potential, whereas before it would have been too big to manage such a feat.
I think the Lord knew that.
Today's tour stops:
Dunhaven Place (In which Tower of Strength becomes Tower of Terror.)