A Mormon Image: The Vault

April 16, 2004 | 7 comments
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The Granite Mountain Vault lies hidden away on the north face of Little Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake City. Built by the Church in the early 1960s, the Vault lies under 700 feet of stone, and was meant to withstand a nuclear blast. Contrary to the ramblings of your crazy uncle, it safeguards mainly genealogical microfilm. There is an manmade lake inside that keeps humidity at the optimal level. Alas, it is no longer open for public tours.

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7 Responses to A Mormon Image: The Vault

  1. lyle on April 16, 2004 at 4:03 am

    Well, now at least we know where all of those WMSs (weapons of mass salvation) are stored. :)

  2. Adam Greenwood on April 16, 2004 at 2:32 pm

    Ah, no, Lyle. Those microfilms are dual-use items that can be used for innocent civilian genealogical research. There’s simply no evidence of WMS. :)

  3. Clark Goble on April 16, 2004 at 9:28 pm

    I’ve always thought that if you have a such a facility protected from all sorts of Armageddon that one ought to have more in it than a list of names. Say like information to rebuild society from the ashes if it ever crumbles? Say microfilm of locations of minerals, copies of documents on engineering and medicine. Physics texts. That sort of thing.

  4. Jim F. on April 16, 2004 at 9:35 pm

    Clark, your observation suggests that the vaults are intended as protection against disasters of various sorts, but perhaps not Armegeddon.

  5. Russell Arben Fox on April 17, 2004 at 3:37 pm

    Wait–you mean “the vault” isn’t where the church has stored all its historical documents and knicknacks? I always thought it was. Well, then where is that stuff? Where’s the original copy of the Book of the Law of the Lord? Where’s Joseph Smith’s seer stone? Is it just in some locked closet in the Church Office Building? A filing cabinet in President Hinckley’s inner office? A secret sub-sub-basement in the Harold B. Lee Library? C’mon Nate, ‘fess up; we know you must have gotten access to this material at one point of another. (Unless, of course, you were sworn to secrecy.)

  6. Clark Goble on April 17, 2004 at 4:30 pm

    Isn’t there a library/vault in the temple where that stuff (or some of it) is kept? Or has that been moved? I believe it used to be there, along with various minutes of their private meetings and so forth.

  7. Nate Oman on April 20, 2004 at 11:25 am

    Russell: My understanding is that the Church Archives are housed in the Church Office Building. That is where most of the documents are. I think that the First Presidency has a special safe in the Church Administration Building. My understanding is that when Joseph Fielding Smith was Church Historian he had a personal safe in which he placed unusually sensitive documents that he came across in the old Church Historian’s Office. When he bacame prophet, the contents of this safe were moved to the First Presidency vault. I think that this contains stuff like (one of) Joseph’s seer stones, The Book of the Law of the Lord, etc.

    In addition, the Church Museum has some storage facilities in the Church Museum itself. They also have a large off site building at about 4th West and 5th North that houses a lot of stuff — one of Brigham Young’s carriages, lots of art, the priesthood pulpits from the Logan temple which were salvaged by the historical department from the wreckage of the Logan temple “renovation,” Orrin Porter Rockwell’s pistol etc. (Rockwell’s gun, BTW, is a small cannon — a .50 calibre revolver — the handle of which is severly banged up. Apparently Rockwell mainly used it as a hammer to push in fence posts!)

    When I was a kid, much of this stuff was still in storage rooms that were actually off of the underground parking garage in the Church Office Building. I remember my dad taking me back there and letting me hold the pepper-box pistol that Joseph Smith had when he was assinated, as well as the wooden odometer that William Clatyon constructed for the first party of pioneers to SLC. I have — alas! — never seen the seer stones…

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