The pioneers of Provo are making a comeback for Utah's birthday this year in a new book of historic Provo photographs.
"Images of America: Provo" puts together more than 200 of the best early photos of Provo and then moves through images as recent as the farmers market and the fire-gutted tabernacle. Marilyn Brown co-authored the book with Valerie Holladay, who died last week of cancer. Holladay's passing was unexpected, and Brown's emotions are still raw.
"Her passing devastated all of us," she said.
Holladay had lost her hair because of her cancer treatments, and the co-authors had been waiting for the arrival of Holladay's first wig before taking author photos together. Holladay, a longtime editor at Covenant Communications, died before photos could be taken.
"She was in chemo and I thought she was going to be OK," Brown said. "She got to see the finished product, and I really am glad that she got to see it. She was very much in approval."
Brown said the book "is an easy read and one that will appeal to residents and visitors alike."
Her philosophy for the book was that a picture is worth a thousand words, and thus the entire book consists of photos with short, informative captions.
This is not Brown's first foray into capturing Provo's history. In 1974, she published "Provo: A Story of People in Motion" with the BYU Press. She is also the author of a novel based on the settlement of Provo, called "The Earthkeepers."
"I am fascinated with history," Brown said. "This is a history that is really indigenous to Mormons because it was the second city that was formed. It tells all about how the people from Salt Lake came down here and why. Salt Lake was a desert, but down here there was more grass and fresh water so the cattle came down here. Brigham Young didn't want to come here because the Indians were here."
The highlights of the new pictorial history are photographs of the Provo Tabernacle the day after it burned, along with images of Provo's polygamist community, the old woolen mills, historic shops on Center Street that still exist today, Brigham Young Academy, early parades and recreation, a 1914 presidential visit from William Howard Taft, construction of the Provo Temple and more.
The book is dedicated to one of the most published and dedicated historians in Utah County, Robert Carter. Carter stepped in to help finish the book.
"Kudos to her," Carter said of Brown. "The book will be really enjoyable for people who enjoy looking at pictures of early Provo, and there should be some in there that they likely haven't seen."
Marilyn Brown and Robert Carter will both be signing their books from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on July 23 at the Provo Pioneer Museum, 500 N. 500 West, Provo.