Hill Cumorah, Manchester, New York

The Hill Cumorah, where Moroni deposited the gold plates Photo courtesy of David C. Wadsworth
The Hill Cumorah, where Moroni deposited the gold plates
Photo courtesy of David C. Wadsworth

 

After the fall of the Nephite civilization, the Prophet Moroni hid up a record in the Hill Cumorah of his people written on plates to come forth “as one crying from the dust” more than 1400 years later, the Book of Mormon was translated and published.1

On the night of September 21-22, 1823, the angel Moroni appeared in vision to young Joseph Smith, Jr. and told him that

There was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;

Also, that there were two stones in silver bows-and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim-deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “seers” in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book. 2

Key Events at the Hill Cumorah

  • Moroni, last of the Nephite prophets, hid up the plates which were translated into the Book of Mormon in about 421 A.D.
  • The Angel Moroni appear to young Joseph each year on September 22 between 1823 and 1827.
  • The plates were given to Joseph to translate on September 22, 1827.
  • A monument was erected here in 1935 and the annual Hill Cumorah Pageant takes place here.
Hill Cumorah, north end as viewed west to east. Photo by Kenneth Mays
Hill Cumorah, north end as viewed west to east. Photo by Kenneth Mays

Oliver Cowdery wrote a description of the hill in a letter to W. W. Phelps which was published in the Messenger and Advocate in October of 1835:

“The hill of which I have been speaking, at the time mentioned, presented a varied appearance: the north end rose suddenly from the plain, forming a promontory without timber, but covered with grass. As you passed to the south you soon came to scattering timber, the surface having been cleared by art or by wind; and a short distance further left, you are surrounded with the common forest of the country. It is necessary to observe, that even the part cleared was only occupied for pasturage, its steep ascent and narrow summit not admitting the plow of the husbandman, with any degree of ease or profit. It was at the second mentioned place where the record was found to be deposited, on the west side of the hill, not far from the top down its side; and when myself visited the place in the year 1830, there were several trees standing: enough to cause a shade in summer, but not so much as to prevent the surface being covered with grass which was also the case when the record was first found.

Whatever may be the feeling of men on the reflection of past acts which have been performed on certain portions or spots of this earth, I know not, neither does it add or diminish to nor from the reality of my subject. When Moses heard the voice of god, at the foot of Horeb, out of the burning bush, he was commanded to take his shoes off his feet, for the ground on which he stood was holy. The same may be observed when Joshua beheld the ‘Captain of the Lord’s host’ by Jerico.-And I confess that my mind was filled with many reflections; and though I did not then loose my shoe, yet with gratitude to God did I offer up the sacrifice of my heart.” 3

West side of Hill Cumorah at the north end near the top. Photo by Kenneth Mays
West side of Hill Cumorah at the north end near the top. Photo by Kenneth Mays

Joseph visited the location of the plates on September 22 for each of the next four years after Moroni’s initial appearance, where he received instruction from Moroni and eventually received the plates in 1827. After the translation of the Book of Mormon was completed, Joseph returned the plates to Moroni. An account of the event was given by Brigham Young.

Hill Cumorah 1935 - 01A monument of the Angel Moroni was erected at the Hill Cumorah and was dedicated by President Heber J. Grant in 1935.

Hill Cumorah with the set used for the pageant (1999). Photo by Kenneth Mays
Hill Cumorah with the set used for the pageant (1999). Photo by Kenneth Mays

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has hosted the Hill Cumorah Pageant: “America’s Witness for Christ” near the Hill Cumorah since 1937. It is performed by volunteers and portrays Lehi and his family leaving Jerusalem in 600 B.C. being guided to what is now the American continent.


SOURCES

 

1 See 2 Nephi 33:13.

2 Joseph Smith History 1:34-35

3 Messenger and Advocate, Volume 2, No. 13, (October 1835).

Map & Directions


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Hours of Operation:
November – March
Monday – Saturday: 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 7:00 PM
April – May
Monday – Saturday: 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM
June – August
Monday – Saturday: 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Sunday: 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM
September – October
Monday – Saturday: 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Admission: Free

Ownership Status

Hill Cumorah is a Church Historic Site owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Visitors are welcome. Admission to the visitors’ center and grounds is free.

Hill Cumorah: LDS Church Link

Photos

Hill Cumorah. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Hill Cumorah. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

 

Hill Cumorah. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Hill Cumorah. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Hill Cumorah. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Hill Cumorah. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Hill Cumorah Visitors' Center. Photo by Kenneth Mays.
Hill Cumorah Visitors’ Center. Photo by Kenneth Mays.

Articles & Resources

Brigham Young's Account of the Hill Cumorah

Author(s): President Brigham Young
Type: Third-person account
Source(s): Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886), 19: 37.

Orin P. Rockwell is an eye-witness to some powers of removing the treasures of the earth. He was with certain parties that lived near by where the plates were found that contain the records…

Dedicatory Prayer delivered by President Heber J. Grant on top of the Hill Cumorah, July 21, 1935

Author(s): President Heber J. Grant
Type: Dedicatory Prayer
Source(s): Improvement Era, 1935, Vol. 38, No. 9, (September, 1935).

God, our heavenly and eternal Father, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Father of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, the Savior of mankind, we thank Thee that Thou hast again seen fit to restore to the earth the plan of life and salvation, whereby men and women…

Hill Cumorah, at JosephSmith.net

Richard N. Holzapfel, “Historical Sites: Golden Bible Hill,” Mormon Heritage Magazine, 1995.

R. H. Jackson, “Hill Cumorah,” Historical Atlas of Mormonism, ed. S. K. Brown et al., 1994.

H. Donl Peterson, “Moroni-Joseph Smith’s Tutor,” Ensign, January 1992, 22.

R. C. Reeve, Jr. and Richard O. Cowan, “The Hill Called Cumorah, Regional Studies in Latter-day Saint Church History: New York, ed. Larry C. Porter, Milton V. Backman, Jr., and Susan Easton Black, 1990.

Hill Cumorah PDF