The President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the late 1860’s was Brigham Young. Who at the time issued a call to selected names read in a conference in Nephi, Utah. The names read were of people to help settle the Muddy Mission, now known as Moapa Valley.
A few years before this, the area was scouted by an expedition lead by Parley P. Pratt of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The farther south they explored the more difficult the terrain became. A journal entry says: “Passed…over a rugged, stony, sandy almost indescribable country, thrown together in dreadful confusion…” “A wide expanse of chaotic matter presented itself, consisting of huge hills, red deserts, cheerless, grassless plains, perpendicular rocks, loose barren clay,… sandstone … lying in inconceivable confusion … in short, a country in ruins, … turned inside out, upside down, by terrible convulsions in some former age.”
To those who know the story say that it stands as “an ordeal beyond compare.” The forbidding landscape of near barren mountains and mesas provided scant supplies of grass for livestock and wood for fuel or building. Summer temperatures often reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was little rainfall. “Oh what a place it was!” wrote one settler, “Nothing but deep sand and burning sun.”
Another account of the irrigation ditches which were dug by day and covered with blowing sand by night, made it very difficult to water the crops the settlers had planted. Some of those called in the late 1860’s certainly must have asked, “Of all places on the earth, why the Muddy?” First of all, the American Civil War had given rise to the possibility of shipping commodities via the Colorado River. Second, when the war interrupted traditional sources for textiles, the cotton mission had been established in the cities of St. George and Washington not too many miles away. It was assumed that cotton for that mission could be grown in the Muddy region. Third, the Latter-day Saints felt strongly their obligation to work with the Native American tribes in the region, helping to feed them and hoping to educate them.
But the region was nevertheless a lonely, barren wasteland. It seemed to have almost nothing to offer but heat and hard work. It was isolated and for the most part desolate, and the river that gave the mission its identity was aptly named, Muddy. By 1870 on the decision of President Young, recognizing the extreme difficulties of the mission, advised the settlers to abandon the mission.
The Fact that the harshness of the environment forced the closure of this mission serves to remind us of the faith and courage required to live there.
But they came back and now Moapa Valley, which consist of Moapa, Glendale, Logandale, and Overton, has a population of 6668 as of 2014. It is still a large LDS community, there are, 1 Young Single Adult Branch, 1 Moapa Ward, 6 Logandale Wards, and 4 Overton Wards which makes up the Logandale Nevada Stake. There is still an honoring of the history and heritage born here where 4 and 5 generations of family have called Moapa Valley their home for over the past 100 years.
To have the Moapa Valley experience you need to come over the hill from the South or North and see that perfect green valley, dotted with homes, and fields of growing green alfalfa, the Bowman Reservoir, and if your heart doesn’t tell you that you are home, it never will.
Story is written by Marjorie Holland with articles by Jeffrey R. Holland “Faith to Answer the Call” and Susan Easton Black “Courage – the Unfailing Beacon”.
Read other articles about Moapa Valley History.
Visit the Old Logandale School and Historical Society for more Moapa Valley History.