THE famous Hill Cumorah, located just south of Palmyra, N.Y., is one of the shrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was here that Mormons believe Joseph Smith was divinely directed to find the buried Golden Plates that were later translated into the Book of Mormon, the cornerstone of the faith.
Bountiful, Utah, too, has a Hill Cumorah.
Bountiful, named after a city mentioned in the Book of Mormon, has its Hill Cumorah on the city's southeast side, east of Bountiful Boulevard at about 3800-4300 South in the Foothill/Summerwood Drive area. It's on the opposite side of town from the Bountiful LDS Temple.
The unofficially named Bountiful Hill Cumorah, some 2,300 miles away from the original, was first called that by Bountiful resident Wilford C. Wood, who owned property there.
"He thought the hill resembled the Hill Cumorah," Wilford W. Cannon, a grandson of Wilford C. Wood, said. Bountiful City officials in recent years have been referring to it as Hill Cumorah too. That may be a step toward the hill officially being named Cumorah.
"The city's slant on it is that it is a historical name and it is easily recognized by most of the city staff," Tom Hardy, Bountiful city manager, said. "We do have a water tank on the south side of the hill and we have informally called it the 'Cumorah tank,' although it is not an official designation."
The water tank is a 1.5 million-gallon, 110-foot diameter, concrete structure.
This Hill Cumorah is well known by residents who live in that area of town and by old-timers, but most others are likely unaware of it.
LDS Church President David O. McKay spoke at a special fireside on the meadow behind the Bountiful hill in the 1950s.
Best viewing options of the hill are at North Canyon Park on Bountiful Boulevard or from as far away as portions of 400 East in Centerville. A large residence now graces the south end of the hill, but Cannon said the north end is committed to remain an undeveloped park area.
Wood, who died in 1968, had a passion for historical sites. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he was also instrumental in the church's acquisition of several key historical sites.
Among other purchases, he bought a portion of the Nauvoo temple lot on Feb. 20, 1937, on behalf of the church and also the Liberty Jail in Independence, Mo. He made the jail site purchase on June 19, 1939. Joseph Smith, the church's first prophet, and four other church leaders were imprisoned for more than four months in the jail, starting in December of 1838. The church now has a visitor center on the site.
(-Originally published by Lynn Arave in the Deseret News, July 25, 2003.)