“As Wonderful as It Is Glorious”: Lorenzo Snow Goes for a Spin in an Automobile

Lorenzo Snow crossed the plains to Utah in 1848 with ox-drawn wagons. His company, led by Brigham Young, needed more than 100 days to plod slowly down the trail. “When we came here I drove one of the ox teams … we made on an average of 100 miles a week,” he later calculated.

That was a dull plodding that would not forever satisfy the pioneer. I have an incomplete story from a reliable witness that in 1899, the 85-year-old church president, then on a tour through the southern Utah settlements, challenged Joseph F. Smith to a horse-and-buggy race for 15 miles over the rough road south of Cove Creek. Unfortunately, the fact of the race was what mattered to the witness, and he didn’t record who won.

On May 15, 1900, at 2:30 p.m., Lorenzo Snow stepped out of his South Temple office in Salt Lake City and stepped up to another buggy – but this one was not powered by flesh and blood horses. This carriage was of the horseless variety, one of the first automobiles brought to Utah. Owned and driven by Hyrum Silver, the tiny vehicle (it weighed only 400 pounds) was a right-hand drive with room for only two riders, who sat in arm chairs in a wagon box perched precariously above steel springs.

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