I'm going to milk one more post from Shipps' Soujourner in the Promised Land, culled from another long-titled article, "The Scattering of the Gathering and the Gathering of the Scattered: The Mid-Twentieth-Century Mormon Diaspora," presented as chapter 13 in the book. I won't summarize the article as much as share a few of the factual details that filled in a chapter of 20th-century LDS history I hadn't really grasped before.
Outside the Mormon Corridor, the first half of the 20th century saw plenty of LDS members scattered up and down the West Coast and across the United States. But the LDS organizational presence outside the Corridor was pretty spotty, with many members going "inactive" almost by default. For example, the first stake in California was not organized until 1923, in LA, followed shortly thereafter by a stake in Hollywood and another in San Francisco in 1927. Elsewhere on the West Coast, Portland and Seattle got stakes in 1938. To the east, there was Denver (1940), Chicago (1936), Washington DC (1940), and New York (1934). So while we often think of the Church as starting in 1830, outside Utah and Idaho the Church didn't really get rolling until the 1930s. [I recall that the last state to get a stake was North Dakota, just a few years ago.]
This organizational matrix laid the groundwork for expansion and consolidation outside the Corridor between roughly 1945 and 1965. A first step toward planting the flag in an unorganized area was calling a stalwart bishop or branch president, few of whom came from "established" LDS leadership families in Utah, although they generally had grown up in a Utah or Idaho ward. These were just regular guys with no particular LDS family connections, and as they moved up, in later years, through stake leadership and into other higher callings, they brought new blood to the sometimes clannish LDS leadership cadre. Complementing new leadership were new buildings, lots of them. Many of the early local chapels were built in large part by the local members themselves, the whole building project often lasting several years and contributing as much to the growth and fellowship of the ward or branch as the new building itself. Shipps summarizes:
This building program did more than bring adult Saints (especially men) back into church activity. It also was the occasion of the physical manifestation of Mormonism all across the American landscape. ... [The new chapels] all looked pretty much alike because they were built according to standard plans. From the architectural and aesthetic perspective, they were not particularly distinctive, but from the symbolic standpoint, they were distinctively Mormon.
Yup. Anyone else ever play "spot the Mormon chapel" as they cruise through small towns when driving the highways of rural America? After awhile you can spot 'em in seconds. If in doubt, size up the parking lot — LDS lots are twice as large as anyone else's. I'm not sure if that's because more Mormons go to church on Sunday or because we stack two or three congregations in the same building with overlapping Sunday schedules. And you can see it from the air when taking off from the Salt Lake airport, too: you can see freeways, golf courses, and LDS parking lots. A terrestrial trinity. Amen.