Another surprising thing I discovered while reading quotes by early LDS leaders was that they equated their Zion-building efforts in Utah to those of the ancient prophet Enoch.
“Then again, did Enoch build up a Zion? So we are doing…. Now, this is what we are building up, and they built up a similar thing before the flood….” – President John Taylor, 10/20/1881
“The Lord has declared it to be his will that his people enter into covenant, even as Enoch and his people did, which of necessity must be before we shall have the privilege of building the Center Stake of Zion….” – Brigham Young, October 1876 General Conference
“We read of the Zion that was built up by Enoch…. We have been expecting all along to build up a similar Zion upon these mountains….” – Elder John Taylor, 8/31/1875
“We are trying to unite the people together in the order that the Lord revealed to Enoch, which will be observed and sustained in the latter days in redeeming and building up Zion; this is the very order that will do it, and nothing short of it. We are trying to organize the Latter-day Saints into this order….” – Brigham Young, 6/21/1874
“As they in [Enoch’s] day were placed under the guidance of the Almighty, so are we…. As they had the Gospel to preach, so have we. As they had a Zion to build up, so have we.” – President John Taylor, October 1884 General Conference.
Not only did they believe they were actually building a real Enoch-style Zion society, they were apparently doing it to prepare for the return of Enoch’s Zion to the Earth.
“Let us prepare ourselves for the coming of Enoch’s Zion, that we may have the same order of things among us that they had in the beginning.” – Orson Pratt, 9/10/1854
“We have no business here other than to build up and establish the Zion of God. It must be done according to the will and law of God after that pattern and order by which Enoch built up and perfected the former-day Zion, which was taken away to heaven…. By and by it will come back again, and as Enoch prepared his people to be worthy of translation, so we through our faithfulness must prepare ourselves to meet Zion from above when it shall return to earth….” – Brigham Young, April 1877 General Conference (his last).
“And we will build up a Zion: that is what we are aiming at. And that Zion also, when the time comes, will ascend to meet the Zion from above, which will descend, and both, we are told, will fall on each other’s necks and kiss each other. These are some of the things we are after.” – John Taylor, 10/20/1881
Now you know why we locals call Utah “Zion”, because until the late 1880s, that’s what we were actually building, City-of-Enoch style Zion communities.