The Domingues-Escalante journal is Utah's first primary written document detailing the journey of Padre Fray Francisco Antanasio Dominguez and Padre Fray Francisco Silvestre Velez de Escalante. Their intended Journey was to start at Santa Fe, New Mexico and end at Monterey, California in an effort to map a route from and to said locations. Although they did not make it to Monterey due to poor weather conditions, the expedition was not completely in vain. This documented journey that began on July 29th, 1776 and ended January 3rd, 1777, shows how the route of Dominguez and and Escalante affected future routes, how their discoveries were influential to science and nature, how it affected the future of Utah, and allows people of the modern day to read what hardships and sacrifices peoples of the past had to endure without modern day technology.
Father Dominguez and Father Escalantes group were the first Europeans to visit Utah. Their mission was to promote Christianity among the natives of the land and find a route to California. Although they failed their intended mission, it was not a failure for future generations. You could say that the expedition had unintended results. These routes forged by the Dominguez Escalante expedtion and a map of the expedition drawn by Don Bernardo De Miera Y Pacheco were later used by the mountain men and fur trappers. This had a positive affect. The trappers would use these routes, find beaver, send it back east to have hats and other precious commodities of the time manufactured. Although the Dominguez-Escalante team were not around to see this, they played a large part in it. These routes on the other hand, had no use for migrants heading east.
Depending of the type of person one deals with, commodities change with interest. For scientists and naturalists concerns, geography played a large role in the Dominguez-Escalante expedtion. The first written account of fossils near present day Delta is credited to the expedition. On October 2nd, 1776, Father Escalante wrote "At this site, which we named Llano Slado-where, because of some white and thin shells that we found, there seems to have been a lake very much larger than the present one"(The Dominguez Escalante Journals, pg. 80) In all honesty, the expedition hit two birds with one stone on this find. They fond remnants of ancient organisms and unknowingly uncovered a mystery of ancient Utah, Lake Bonneville. (Lake Bonneville covered about 20,000 square miles of western Utah and smaller portions of eastern Nevada and Southern Idaho).
Fossils and ancient lakes give so much to the scientific community. Much like The Dominguez-Escalante Journal is a window to the past, ancient remnants are a window to a more distant past. Fossils and land formations serve as journals, being as there was no one around to write one 32,000 years ago. The fact that Father Escalante documented this show importance of pre-history.
Jumping forward from pre-history to the future, the Dominguez Escalante expedition had an impact on the future of Utah. There are two important points to be made about the future affects on Utah and they deal with the Mexican-American war adn the future of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
First, the Mexican American War. On September 16th, 1776 Father Escalante wrote of water sources referring to them as the "smaller one" and "rivulet" which today are known as Brush Creek and Ashley Creek in North Eastern Utah. (The Dominguez Escalante Journals pg. 54) He stated that "from both of them irrigation ditches could be dug for watering the land on this side, which is likewise good for farming even when they could not be conducted from the large river" (The Dominguez Escalante Journals pg. 54). This serves as evidence that they indeed had intentions on returning to these lands after their expedition had been completed. If the Spaniards would have returned to Utah and surrounding states, the population would have increased in these areas and the Spaniards most likley would have made allies with the natives of the lands. This would have increased numbers in the Mexican military. Mexico had anywhere from 25,000-40,000 soldiers who fought in the Mexican-American War and America had approx. 78,700 soldiers that fought. If the Spaniards would have had more soldiers, than perhaps they would have had a better chance at defending their land which they had laid claim to in the past.
Second, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In his introduction to The Dominguez-Escalante Journal, Ted J. Warner States "The failure of the Spaniards to capitalize on the information brought back by Fathers Dominguez and Escalante about central Utah was perhaps the most significant long-range result of the expedition (The Dominguez-Escalante Journals, pg xvi). If not for the failure of the expedition and the Spaniards choice not to return to Utah, the Mormons may not have considered the Great Basin because it would have already been occupied and its best lands appropriated by Franciscan missions and Spanish settlers and soldiers" (The Dominguez-Escalante Journals, xvi). The Mormons could have ended up in California or Nevada and possibly created more trails or simply died off from exhaustion from their trek west.
In the year 1776, technology was advancing as it could. But to travel and explore in this year was very difficult and had its though times. on August 10th, 1776 Father Dominguez was stricken with an ailment known as rheumy flow, which is a head cold with a runny nose (The Dominguez Escalante Journals, pg. 15). Due to the lack of medications this set the expedition back and allowed for Father Dominguez to recover. On the day he got sick the humidity was so great that it was impossible for them to stay at their current location leading Father Dominguez to trek while being ill (The Dominguez Escalante Journal, pg. 15). It is miserable to have a cold and if you have to be energetic while having one it only makes one worse, for the next day, August 11th, 1776, the expedition had to stay put at a new location in order to let Father Dominguez rest (The Dominguez Escalante Journal, pg. 15).
Along with the hardships of becoming ill along the journey, Father Dominguez and Father Escalante also had to worry about food and water. There were times on their expedition when it seemed that said items were scarce. On August 16th, 1776 "we discovered more than half of the horses missing, since having had no water, they strayed away looking for it and found it near the trail halfway back on yesterdays march" (The Dominguez Escalante Journal, pg. 19). Without the ability to just stop at a convenient store along the way, the hardships of day to day living was in play and it set them backtracking which in turn is very inconvenient.
In conclusion, the Dominguez Escalante expedition was important because it impacted the present, short term and long term history of Utah and the whole United States itself. It made productivity possible for future generations and left us a window open to the distant past.