I am guessing that Utah is not an economically optimal location, especially for farming since reputedly it’s very arid. Well, so why did Mormons, especially the younger men, want to stay there in late 19th century? Did the Church encourage them to stay rather than expand, settling other areas in the West? Or was the land available to homesteader settlers at the time of comparably low quality to that found in Utah?
Well, there are Mormon communities everywhere I have lived, (and many places I haven’t) including some rather surprising locations. I found rather a few of them in Sicily of all places.
Not to mention the fact that there are quite a number of non-Mormons living in Utah.
So I do not understand the underlying premise of your question.
Actually, Utah had and has lots of arable land. They;'ve got a major cheese producing area in the northeast, and the climate is remarkably like where I grew up in the East. There’s actually plenty of fresh water coming down from the mountains, between the rain that precipitates there and the copius snowmelt stored up over the winter. The real problem wasn’t aridity, but salt – the Salt Lake Valley used to be the bottom of Lake Bonneville, and it didn’t really grow well until they brought down “sweet soil” from The Benches (that used to be the beach of Lake Bonneville). They grew lots of crops in non-salty areas. Sugarhouse district was called that because of the sugar beets they grew and refined. Brigham Young saw to it that the Mormon communities were self-sufficient.
He also spread out Mormon satellite communities in all directions, hoping to enlarge the effective size of the State of Deseret. If you look at one of the Mormon population maps (like the ones they sell at Desert Book), you can see a broad swath of Mormon settlement going from Alberta and Saskachewan through Montana and Idaho. Utah, Nevada, and to Southern California. The state of Utah is only a fraction of what they wanted Deseret to be. They found plenty of good farming throughout much of that region, including what you would think of as the arid south. They called st. George, utah “Utah’s Dixie” because of all the Cotton they grew there.
I think you overlook the lingering misgivings Mormons might have had about their safety in the late 19th century and beyond. They had just spent decades being driven out of every state in the Union. Why should they believe that that persecution was REALLY over and done with for good? You’re also overlooking the fact that this was a country (I mean that in the geographical sense) that they had been given the opportunity to make over as they saw fit. Even today, I’d say they’re running things pretty much how they would like, despite the vast numbers of non-Mormons in Utah. They shaped the region’s culture and institutions to their liking. Why not stay?
It’s sort of like asking why the children or grandchildren of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts didn’t move back to England after the years of major persecution were over…
ok, so based on CalMeacham’s explanation, in essence they did just that - they expanded to various neighboring fertile areas to the extent that they had the numbers to accomplish. Plus, Utah aridity has been greatly exaggerated. Cool, that’s interesting.