Mormon Pioneer

National Historic Trail - IL,IA,NE,UT,WY

Explore the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail across five states to see the 1,300-mile route traveled by Mormons who fled Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1846-1847.


Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units and Regions

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Heritage Areas

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS). Explore the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail across five states to see the 1,300-mile route traveled by Mormons who fled Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1846-1847. The Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail crosses five states following the route the Pioneer Company of 1846-1847 established from Nauvoo, Illinois, to Salt Lake City, Utah, covering about 1,300 miles. Visitor Centers vary from state to state The Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail passes through seven states. A variety of visitor facilities are available along the trail. See our Things to Do page for recommendations. Echo Canyon, Utah Red cliffs line a highway as seen from a high point with grass in the foreground. Echo Canyon on the way from Wyoming to Salt Lake City, Utah is both beautiful and historic. Brigham Young grave, Utah A bronze plaque with description on a metal fence surrounding Brigham Young's grave. Brigham Young's grave lies in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, Utah Monument Rock, Utah. Red rock monolith in a rocky canyon Monument Rock in Echo Canyon, Utah. Joseph & Emma Smith House, Nauvoo, Illinois A large, white, two-story historic wood home with a red roof and white picket fence. Joseph & Emma Smith House in Nauvoo, Illinois. Mormon Pioneer Trail in Utah A hiking trail with a trail sign. There are places you can hike on the historic trail! Women's Suffrage in Utah Polygamy is essential to understanding the history of women’s suffrage in Utah. In 1850 President Millard Fillmore selected Brigham Young, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as governor of the newly formed Utah Territory. The appointment of a religious official to political office raised eyebrows across the nation; so did polygamy, the practice of having more than one wife. A historical photo of a group of women in long dresses, standing in front of a sign Fourth of July on the Overland Trails For many travelers on the overland trails, the Fourth of July was just another day of trekking through sand and sagebrush. For some it was a day of melancholy, thinking of how their loved ones at home might be celebrating. For others, especially the Fortyniners, it was fun a day of celebration, usually involving the firing of “salutes” with their handguns and rifles, energetic flag-waving, and a feast. A covered wagon sits in front of a vast rocky landscape Sagebrush and Salt Flats along the Overland Trails The Great Basin, that Big Empty between hither and yon, is a raw and merciless land. Many 19th century emigrants, after several months trudging from the Missouri River with ox and wagon, stopped at its hither edge to settle near the Great Salt Lake. Many others, gazing west into that alien expanse, wanted urgently to meet its yon side at the Sierra Nevada as quickly as possible. Very few stopped permanently, willingly, in the thirsty in-between. A salt flat, covered in shallow water, stretches out to distant mountains. 1857 Mormon Defensive Breastworks at Mormon Flat, Utah Fearing an invasion by the approaching US Army in 1857, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Brigham Young evacuated Salt Lake City and ordered the Mormon Militia to prevent the soldiers from entering the valley. The federal troops would come through Fort Bridger, a trading post in in present-day southeastern Wyoming, and pass through Echo Canyon, about 50 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, before following the California-Mormon Trail up Big Mountain. A row of piled rocks, in a grassy field, with a distant hill. The 1847 Trek - Mormon Pioneer Trail Over the winter, Brigham Young collected travel reports and cross-examined men who had been west along the trail. Thanks to this added information and the previous summer’s experience, the second leg of the journey would be flawlessly executed. Moreover, the 1847 vanguard company would be limited to a handpicked party of 144 men, three wives, and two small boys. They would start in early spring, soon followed by the main body of emigrants. An illustration of a covered wagon entering a valley. The 1846 Trek - Mormon Pioneer Trail Brigham Young initially intended for his Mormon vanguard out of Nauvoo to overwinter in the Rocky Mountains and then continue to the Great Basin in spring 1847. However, the difficulty of the journey, fatigue, and starvation changed his plans. The 1846 trek would be from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Missouri River at today’s Omaha, Nebraska; and the 1847 journey would continue from there to the Great Salt Lake Valley at present-day Salt Lake City, Utah. An illustration of log cabins in the winter. What Happened to the Bison? Crossing the Southern Plains in 1806, Zebulon Pike described herds of bison that “exceeded imagination.” Yet by the 1850s, many of the Native nations that relied on bison for sustenance—such as the Kiowas, Comanches, Cheyennes, and Arapahoes—were seeing fewer bison than ever before. What happened? A bison stands and eats grass. The Platte Experience Otoe Indians called this region “Nebrathka,” meaning “flat water,” and the French word “Platte” means the same. The defining flatness of the broad Platte River Valley, which averages five to seven miles wide, made it ideal for animal-powered travel on both sides of the stream. The long Platte River also provided plenty of water and native grasses for game and livestock. Many emigrants later recalled it as the easiest, most pleasant part of their westering journey. A statue of a bison in front of a large museum. Gateway to the West: National Historic Trails Across the Continental Divide The Rocky Mountains stretch like a jagged spine between Alaska and Mexico, splitting North America into East and West. The Continental Divide is not a simple line of peaks, easily threaded by tracks and roads, but a complex of overlapping mountain ranges and treeless sagebrush steppe, hundreds of miles wide. In the days of covered wagon travel, the Rockies were an imposing barrier to the movement of people, commerce, and communications. South Pass was the gateway to the West. Historic image a covered wagon train meeting tall mountains. Sister-Wives and Suffragists: Mormonism and the Women’s Suffrage Movement “Do you know of any place on the face of the earth, where woman has more liberty, and where she enjoys such high and glorious privileges as she does here, as a Latter-day Saint?” So spoke Eliza R. Snow in 1870, the year when women in territorial Utah became among the tiny minority of nineteenth-century American women to win the right to exercise the franchise. Head and shoulders portrait of emmeline wells, black and white. library of congress War on the Oregon & California Trails Once-friendly Western tribes watched with mounting anger as emigrants helped themselves, often wastefully, to their game, grass, water, and wood. Indian agents warned of bloody conflicts ahead if the issues between native peoples and emigrants were not soon resolved. In response, the U.S. government called for a treaty conference to be held near Fort Laramie, Wyoming, in September 1851. Some 12,000 members of 11 different Northern Plains tribes answered the call. A green lawn stretches back to a distant historic fort. A Gathering Storm: American Indians and Emigrants in the 1830s As American settlers surged westward across the eastern woodlands and prairies in the early 19th century, they pushed American Indians out of their ancestral homes. The U.S. government resettled many of those displaced Eastern tribes —the Kickapoo, Delaware, Potawatomi, and others— in congressionally designated Indian Territory west of the Missouri River and south of the Platte. The resettled Eastern tribes were among the first Indians encountered by emigrants through Kansas. Traveling the Emigrant Trails Learn a little bit about what life was like for the emigrants traveling west by covered wagon. Series: On Their Shoulders: The Radical Stories of Women's Fight for the Vote These articles were originally published by the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission (WSCC) as a part of the WSCC blog, The Suff Buffs. The Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission was created by Congress to commemorate 100 years of the 19th Amendment throughout 2020 and to ensure the untold stories of women’s battle for the ballot continue to inspire Americans for the next 100 years. In collaboration with the WSCC, the NPS is the forever home of these articles Logo of the Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission Wagons on the Emigrant Trails Emigrants along the western trails had several options when it came to wagons. Three covered wagons are seen in front of a distinctive rock formation. Death and Danger on the Emigrant Trails There were many life-threatening challenges for the emigrants who traveled the emigrant trails to California, Oregon, or Utah. A watercolor painting of wagon trains approaching Chimney Rock. The Lands of the Overland Trails: Protests against the Mexican American War Almost every movement in American history has a corresponding counter movement. The Mexican American War (1846-48), which resulted in Mexico ceding much of the modern-day American Southwest to the United States, is a good example. With the stroke of a pen, parts of the Santa Fe, California, Oregon, Pony Express, Mormon Pioneer, and Old Spanish trails, as well as El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, suddenly became American territory. A dirt road snakes down a steep cliff face in the desert. Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guides: Mormon Pioneer Trail Download one of these booklets and begin your state by state trail adventure! The Auto Tour Route (ATR) guides provide an overview of local trail history while giving driving directions to suggested points of interest along the trail. There are auto tour route guides available for the trail across IA, NE, CO, WY and UT. The cover of a travel guide that has an illustration of a covered wagon train crossing a snowy area. Become a Junior Ranger for National Historic Trails Learn about the National Historic Trails and earn junior ranger badges! These activities can be completed virtually or after visiting a site along the National Historic Trails. Booklets can be submitted either electronically or by mail. Take a look and start exploring the trails today! small photos of different trail sites with junior ranger badges. Color the National Historic Trails Express yourself and learn more about the trails with these coloring sheets! Download, print, color, and then share with us! Do you want to know what pioneers thought about bison? Elk? Salmon? Pick an animal, learn more, and download your coloring sheet today. A coloring sheet with an image of a wolf walking. Historic Valentine's Day Cards Valentines day cards rose to popularity in the United States in the mid-1800s. Victorian cards were elaborate, decorative, often-lace trimmed, and mass-produced. Not everyone could afford such cards, so handmade cards were very popular with pioneers and others who couldn't buy an expensive card. You can take your Valentine back in time by making a historic card! Use the provided template, or make a handmade card, and return to the 1800s with your love. A historic valentines day card with a rose illustration. Hogsback Summit Winter Views Winter view of the Wasatch Mountains from Hogsback Summit, near Henefer, Utah, on the Donner Party route of the California Trail. The Donner Party reached this point on July 19, 1846, having been directed by Lansford W. Hastings to cut their own trail through these mountains. Here they had their first glimpse of what that would mean for them. Enjoy a virtual visit with a few different views of this significant trail location. a wintery landscape leading to distant snow-covered mountains. Series: National Historic Trails Auto Tour Route Interpretive Guides Interested in planning a trip along a national historic trail? Use these guides to follow the historic routes while learning more about local and trail history. The cover of a travel guide that has an illustration of a covered wagon train in the plains. Series: The Emigrant Experience Have you ever wondered what the experience was like for the emigrants who traveled west on the Great Platte River Road? A man dressed in period clothing leans on a covered wagon. Elijah Abel, the Mormon Pioneer Trail Elijah Abel was born in Maryland in either 1808 or 1810, most likely into slavery. He converted to the Mormon faith in 1832 and soon migrated to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Kirtland, Ohio. historic image of an African American man Elizabeth “Lizzy” Flake, the Mormon Pioneer Trail Elizabeth “Lizzy” Flake was born enslaved in Anson County, North Carolina, in 1833. She grew up alongside other enslaved people who picked cotton on William Love’s plantation. The Flakes joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and moved to Mississippi, then to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1844. Two years later, when most of the Saints fled Nauvoo, they joined the migration to Utah. Historic portrait of an African American woman. National Historic Trails: Historical Routes of National Significance Wondering about National Historic Trails? Check out this infographic with basic information about the trails, their purpose, and where you can go for more information! Infographic about National Historic Trails featuring a map. Full description available at link. Child’s Play: Freak Accidents on the Westering Trails Laudanum is a tincture made from powdered opium, morphine, and codeine. Today it is available in the US only by prescription, but in the 19th century it was an inexpensive patent medicine used to quiet agitated minds, ease fever and pain, and relieve diarrhea. An overdose causes the victim to stop breathing, lapse into coma, and die. That’s what happened to six-year-old Salida Jane Henderson, called “Lettie,” while she camped with her family in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. A small green glass bottle with a cork topper. Can I Eat This: Freak Accidents on the Westering Trails In 1849, many companies of gold seekers decided to follow the Applegate Trail to a new cutoff, said to be a quicker way to the goldfields. Lassen’s Cutoff turned out to be 200 miles longer than the established routes, extending the trip by weeks. Long before reaching the mines, most companies ran out of food. Starving men desperately filled their empty bellies with anything they could chew- rotting livestock lying trailside, boiled bits of leather, and plants, some poisonous. Clusters of small white flowers. Trust Me, I’m a Doctor: Freak Accidents on the Westering Trails Edwin Bryant, traveling overland to California in 1846, had only briefly studied medicine, and he never claimed to be a physician. But somewhere along Nebraska’s Platte River, a little boy from another party had gotten his leg crushed under wagon wheels. The child, eight or nine years old, survived but desperately needed medical attention. There being no doctor nearby, Bryant reluctantly agreed to examine him. A wooden wagon wheel with spokes radiating out from the center. Mother’s Mortal Mistake: Freak Accidents on the Westering Trails Joel Hills Johnson started along the trail in April 1857, on his way to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On Big Mountain, less than 20 miles from the city, his group overtook a party of “apostates” – former Mormon converts who had abandoned their church and were leaving the Mormon realm. As was common practice, a mother of that party had stirred together a pan of bread dough in the morning and set it to rise in the wagon during the day... A risen bread loaf in a tin pan. Fatal missteps, Part 2: Freak Accidents on the Westering Trails Emigrants on the Truckee Route to California typically started across Nevada’s Fortymile Desert in the evening in order to avoid the heat of the midday sun. The one reliable place to find water along the desert trek was a place called Boiling Springs, where travelers could dip out and cool the precious water for their livestock to drink. Steam rises from a small pond that sits in a desert setting void of much vegetation Thunder Road: Freak Accidents on the Westering Trails First comes a sudden stillness, then an unexpected cool breeze. Sunshine dims to darkness as growling, green-black clouds pile overhead, flickering with lightning. The wind rises. A brilliant bolt splits the air with a deafening crr-ACK, followed by momentary silence and then a violent, crashing boom that makes the living earth tremble... Lightning bolt in a dark sky. Fatal missteps, Part 1: Freak Accidents on the Westering Trails Devil’s Gate, near Independence Rock in south-central Wyoming, is a deep, V-shaped cleft cut through a granite ridge by the Sweetwater River. Curious emigrants, including the younger brother of pioneer Ezra Meeker, made side-trips to explore the scenic feature. A river squeezes through a narrow passage between two sheer rock walls Mormon Odometer Learn about how emigrants on the Mormon Trail measured their progress. A piece of machinery constructed out of wood. Joseph Fielding Smith – Mormon Pioneer Trail Joseph Fielding Smith, sixth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the nephew of its founder, Joseph Smith, was born in Far West, Missouri, on 13 November 1838. He traveled with his family on the Mormon Pioneer Trail in 1846. In 1848 they left Winter Quarters and arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah. Historic bust portrait of a man with a beard. National Historic Trails Scrapbooks Imagine if early travelers on the National Historic Trails had a polaroid camera... what would their scrapbooks look like? Though we have many journals describing their experiences, there are obviously very few or no photos at all from these journeys. Cameras didn't exist! Well, we took a crack at it and created scrapbook pages for them! Take a look at what we imagine a trail traveler's scrapbook would like! A scrapbook page depicting multiple scenes from the trail, and relevant icon images. A Boy’s Walk to Zion, B.H. Roberts A Boy's Walk to Zion: Brigham Henry Roberts

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