In September of 1823 while Joseph Smith's family was living in Palmyra, New York, the Angel Moroni appeared to the young Joseph, and showed to Joseph in a vision the exact location where he had buried the golden plates in the hill called Cumorah. Later that day Joseph went to the place shown to him. He wrote "On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box."  Joseph was not permitted to take the plates at that time but was instructed by the angel to return to this place every year "until the time should come for obtaining the plates." Exactly four years later Joseph received the ancient record for the purpose of translation and publication.

The church acquired the Hill Cumorah in 1928, then in 1935  erected a granite monument topped by a nine-foot statue of Moroni at the highest point of the hill. Today there is a visitors center at the bottom of the hill, and a dramatic pageant featuring events from the Book of Mormon is held there every summer.