'Wagon Box Prophecy' foretold development of southeast Idaho

IONA, Idaho — A little more than 115 years ago, President Wilford Woodruff, then president of the Quorum of the Twelve, visited LDS settlers in the Snake River Valley in what would be southeastern Idaho. Sensing the discouragement of the saints who had arrived here only the year before, he climbed into the back of a wagon box and issued what became known as the "Wagon Box Prophecy."

Sagebrush-covered land, he declared, would soon become LDS communities and fertile fields.

Today, there is a temple in Idaho Falls, Idaho; LDS stakes spread from one end of the valley to the other; and fertile fields, indeed, have replaced sagebrush. And on Aug. 22, Presiding Bishop H. David Burton dedicated a monument honoring the early Church members who tamed this land and remembering the "Wagon Box Prophecy."

Nearly 400 members of the Iona Idaho Stake, along with visitors from the nearby Idaho Falls, Ucon and Lincoln Idaho stakes, attended the dedication on the grounds of the Iona stake center, just east of Idaho Falls. The original LDS settlements were near what would become the Iona townsite. Conducting the meeting was stake Pres. Lon S. Huls. The monument consists of a large piece of stone, on which is attached a bronze plaque carrying a description of the history of the community, an image of President Woodruff and a quote from the "Wagon Box Prophecy."

"The spirit of the Lord rests mightily on me and I feel to bless you in the name of Jesus Christ," the monument quotes President Woodruff as saying. "I promise you that the climate will be moderated for your good. I can see these great sagebrush prairies as far as the eye can reach turned into fertile fields. I bless the land that it shall yield forth in its strength. Flowers and trees and fine homes shall grace the valley from one end to another. Schools and colleges of higher learning shall be built to serve you, that you may learn the mysteries of God's great universe. I see churches and meetinghouses dotting the landscape, where the God of Israel may be worshiped in truth and in spirit."

Also attending the dedication was Iona Mayor Craig Rockwood, who is a member of the Iona stake high council and who directed the establishment of the monument. In correspondence with the Church News, Mayor Rockwood mentioned the "great men and women" who have served here over the years."

"Our lives have all been blessed by the great service that has been rendered," he added.

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