At the death of Brigham Young in 1877, a large portion of his colonization program had been unfulfilled. The area of southeast Utah was still untouched by permanent Mormon settlements. Primarily because of a desire to cultivate better relations with the Indians of southern Utah, Church leaders made plans to establish a mission in this area. Missionaries were called from Southern Utah settlements and were led by Silas S. Smith. When a site was chosen along the San Juan near Bluff, a direct route still had not been found. News of a direct trail through Escalante reached leaders' ears, and the missionaries set off in December 1878. Not until the group reached the Hole-in-the-Rock did they discover that the route had not been explored. They nevertheless pushed ahead and completed one of the most remarkable journeys in the history of the West.