The lighthouse monument in Spanish Fork, Utah, was erected in 1938 to honor the original Icelandic pioneers, the first permanent settlers from that country, who immigrated into the United States in 1855. The monument is a celebration of Icelandic culture and customs. It also celebrates the bravery of those first Icelandic pioneers who crossed the Atlantic in 1854 after their conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The structure was unveiled as part of the “Iceland Day” celebrations in 1938. The monument is a miniature lighthouse replica with a Viking ship on the top that references the seafaring for which the Vikings, the Icelanders’ ancestors, were best known. A plaque, which carries the names of the first sixteen Icelandic settlers, accompanies the monument. The first Iceland Day took place in Utah in 1897 to commemorate the settlement of Iceland in 870 CE. Every year from this point on, Iceland Day has been celebrated on the same day as the annual holiday in the Westmann Islands (Vestmannaeyjar), Iceland, from which the first Icelandic pioneers came.
This monument is a hallmark that has helped foster ever-improving relationships between the Church of Jesus Christ and the Icelandic government. The improving relations made it possible for the Church to renew their missionary efforts in Iceland after not having a permanent presence in the country for over 50 years. In 1975, Bryon T. Geslison and his family would be the first missionaries since 1914 called to serve in Iceland. Because of the missionary efforts initiated by Geslison and his family, the Icelandic government officially recognized the missionary work of the Church in 1983. Ever since then, the relations between the Icelandic government and the Church of Jesus Christ have been very positive and friendly. The importance of the monument has been recognized by local representatives of Utah who, in 2005, started a makeover project to make this monument more similar to one that was erected in the Westmann Islands, Iceland in 2000. The monument in Iceland was erected by the local government to honor the brave men who faced the harsh weather, sea, and other difficulties and emigrated to Utah after “hearing the call to build Zion.”
Some of the new features of the lighthouse monument in Spanish Fork include a rock brought from the shores of Vestmannaeyjar, where the first pioneers were baptized; bronze plaques that retell the history of Icelanders in Utah; and, a granite monument that lists the names of over 400 Icelanders who settled in Utah between 1855 and World War I. The renewed project was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then the president of the Church of Jesus Christ, who commemorated the culture and faith of the Icelandic settlers in his speech