Skip to main content
The Desert Shall Blossom As the Rose : Pioneering Irrigation / John A. Widtsoe
All Faculty Publications
  • J. Michael Hunter, Brigham Young University - Provo
  • Irrigation,
  • Water Management,
  • Water Supply,
  • Mormon Pioneers,
  • John A. Widtsoe,
  • Utah Agriculture,
  • Economic Development in the West,
  • Salt Lake City,
  • Salt Lake Valley
Beginning in 1847 Mormon pioneers used irrigation or the artificial application of water to land and soil in order to establish an agrarian system in Utah’s sub-humid Salt Lake Valley. Early leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) viewed irrigation as a means of fulfilling the biblical prophecy of Isaiah, “The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1), although early pioneers and leaders realized that the Salt Lake Valley was not exactly a desert. In fact, some Mormon leaders described it as a “rich fertile valley.” Although a few Mormon pioneers had prior experience with irrigation, the early Mormon pioneers in Utah initially had a difficult time establishing an effective irrigation system. “The Desert Shall Blossom As the Rose: Pioneering Irrigation” provides an overview of the struggles and successes of early Mormon irrigation efforts. This article was originally published in Pioneer, Summer 2003, pages 10-14. Published in this same issue on pages 24-25 was the sidebar entitled “John A. Widtsoe,” which describes Widtsoe as “an international authority on soil chemistry, irrigation, and dry-farming.”
Original Publication Citation
J. Michael Hunter, "The Desert Shall Blossom As the Rose: Pioneering Irrigation / John A. Widtsoe," Pioneer, Summer 2003, 10-14, 24-25.
Document Type
Publication Date
Permanent URL
Sons of Utah Pioneers
Harold B. Lee Library
Citation Information
J. Michael Hunter. "The Desert Shall Blossom As the Rose : Pioneering Irrigation / John A. Widtsoe" (2003)
Available at: