National monuments in Utah include the higher profile Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Timpanogos Cave as well as Cedar Breaks, Dinosaur, Hovenweep, Jurassic, Natural Bridges and Rainbow Bridge. We also have state and local monuments, such as This Is the Place, the Seagull at Temple Square, Eagle Gate on State and South Temple, Joseph Smith Memorial Building and others. Most Utahns have visited —or at least heard of—our precious national monuments but few would be pressed to know where some of our state monuments can be found.
Brigham Young is buried just east of Temple Square at 140 E. First Ave. You've no doubt driven by the site hundreds of times if you live in or near the Avenues.
The Seagull Monument inside Temple Square is dedicated to "the miracle of the gulls" when supposedly, Western Gulls descended to eat an invasion of Mormon Crickets that were annihilating the crops of the early pioneers in the year 1848.
A block east are the metal arches above the intersection of State Street and South Temple. These were erected in 1859 and mark the original entrance to Brigham Young's property at the mouth of City Creek Canyon. You've driven under this if you head up to the state Capitol. Originally topped by a wooden eagle (now on display at the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum), it was replaced with a 4,000-pound bronze bird with a 20-foot wingspan.
Why do I mention monuments? One potential site has been in the news lately because a local developer hoped to build a high-end celebrity rehab center right above it, making access to the public difficult or not at all. I am speaking of our beautiful Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon. Legend has it that an indigenous girl named Norita fell in love with a boy from a rival tribe named Grey Eagle. The classic Romeo and Juliet-like story went simply that elders from both tribes found out about the forbidden love and told her that they'd killed her lover. She then leapt over the falls to join him in the spirit world. Mother Nature felt badly for the girl and turned her hair into a bridal veil of falling water that flows year-round 607 feet down from springs above the canyon on Cascade Mountain. This natural wonder should not be owned privately.
To protect the landmark, Utah County commissioners placed the county-owned falls in a conservation easement last year. The prospective developer, Richard Losee, wasn't happy and filed a lawsuit. Thankfully, now, the developer has backed off of the lawsuit since Utah County has asked state lawmakers to designate the falls a state monument this session to protect Bridal Veil Falls for future generations.