WINSLOW, Ariz. -- Mormons of today are remembering those who paved a path to Arizona and Utah in the 1870s.
Members of the Brigham City Restoration Project are working to restore an old Mormon community outside Winslow named for Mormon leader Brigham Young.
"I look at it as a historical site," said Gene Hancock of Winslow, a member of the restoration team. "This is where Brigham Young called our ancestors to come down and settle this crazy place."
The Arizona Republic (http://bit.ly/qXYzmJ) reports the restoration project has gained momentum in recent years as backers secured government grants and private donations to remake a small part of the abandoned 19th-century community.
The plan is to restore the main community center and two sleeping quarters by the time Arizona celebrates its centennial in February. Backers then hope their work will draw more support and donations to re-create more of the community's original structures.
"People question why we would want to do it, why we'd want to put our time into it or solicit funds to build this thing up," said Hancock. "I look at it as a historical site."
Mormon leader Brigham Young sent an expedition of colonists from Utah to attempt to settle in northern Arizona in the 1870s. The Arizona frontier proved tough back then, and the rugged terrain was difficult to navigate, and irrigation plans failed.
Brigham City faded away. In 1878, the community was ravaged by floods, which destroyed crops, and the colonists moved on. Some Mormons returned later to settle in other parts of the state.
Today, there are more than 385,000 Mormons in Arizona.