Icelandic Memorial Dedicated in Spanish Fork

Save Story

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

SPANISH FORK, Utah (AP) -- A memorial was dedicated Saturday paying tribute to the original 410 immigrants who established the first permanent Icelandic settlement in North America.

The wall that bears the 410 names of people who settled in Spanish Fork up to 1914, when immigration was ended because of World War I, was dedicated by Gordon B. Hinckley, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many of the immigrants were members of the Mormon church.

Also in attendance was the President of the Republic of Iceland Olafur Ragnar Grimsson.

"What a great accomplishment (for) poor families who came here 150 years ago to have us all gathered here today," Grimsson said.

In 1855 a trio of immigrants, Samuel Bjarnason, Margret Gisladottir and Helga Jonsdottir, arrived in Utah by covered wagon, which followed a trip on an ocean liner from England to New Orleans and then a riverboat ride up the Mississippi River. The trek took 10 months to complete

The group headed to Spanish Fork under directions of church leader Brigham Young.

Hinckley spoke of the sacrifices that the Icelandic immigrants made, and emphasized that they should be remembered.

"It took them 10 long months to get here from Iceland," he said. "In this day of air-conditioned travel, we cannot imagine what they endured. For those of you here today with the blood of Vikings in your veins, for your strengthness and goodness, your faith and capacity, we honor you."

Appreciation was a major theme of the dedication.

"I'm so grateful my ancestors pulled handcarts, road in rail cars and took a horrible boat ride," said a tearful Kristy Robertson, president of the Icelandic Association of Utah.

"It's absolutely wonderful," Everett Bearnson, Bjarnason's grandson, said of the celebration Saturday.

Besides the wall, the Icelandic Memorial -- located at 785 E. Canyon Road in Spanish Fork -- includes a lighthouse monument that was erected in 1938 and an Icelandic rock that was brought from the shore of Vestmannayjar, Iceland.

That is where many of the immigrants were baptized as members of the LDS Church.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-06-26-05 1026MDT

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast