Mormon Trail

What was the Mormon Trail?

The Mormon Trail was a route taken by the Mormons in the 19th century. They followed this route to move from Illinois to Utah after they started facing persecution in Illinois. They trail passes through the modern-day states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah where it ends. It covers a total of 1300 miles.

Who were Mormons?

Mormons are a religious group which began in the early 19th century. In the 1820s, Joseph Smith laid the foundations of Mormonism by establishing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint. He said that he had received spiritual revelations which explained the message of Christianity anew and so, the people who followed him and joined him came to be called Mormons.

Mormons initially had to face a lot of opposition and persecution. And when they realized that they could no longer live in peace in Illinois, which is where they had been living from 1839 to 1846, their leaders decided that it was time to move to a different place where they could start a new life. They chose Utah as this new place and their path from Illinois to Utah was later called the Mormon Trail.

Journey on Mormon Trail

The first journey by a group of Mormons on this Trail began in 1846 under their leader, Brigham Young. Mormons started this journey in February, 1846 after they had been told that they had to leave Nauvoo, Illinois by May, 1846.

Mormons had hoped that by starting in February, they could reach Utah by the winter. But they got late and they had to spend the winter of 1846 near the Missouri River and in Nebraska. They continued their journey once the winter was over and began traveling again in April, 1847. They finally reached the Salt Lake Valley in Utah in July, 1847. At the time, the Utah area was not a part of USA. It was a part of the Mexican territory.

How did they travel on the Trail?

It was a long journey, spanning over 1300 miles. They traveled much like other Americans at the time traveled into the west. They used wagons almost ten feet long and covered with cloth. These wagons were drawn by oxen or mules. The tobaggons carried the elderly and the children while those who could easily walk went on their foot alongside the wagons. During their first journey, Mormons carried food provisions for almost a year, so their wagons also carried a lot of the foodstuffs.

Camps along the Trail

The Mormon Trail was primarily used by the Mormon families moving westwards towards the Salt Lake Valley in Utah. This was a long and hard journey. So Mormons established many camps along the trail so that the emigrants traveling on it could rest on their way.

One of these camps was established at a place called Garden Grove nearly 144 miles from Nauvoo, their starting point. Another camp was established at Mount Pisgah. The most important Mormon camp along the way was at Nebraska which came to be called the ‘Winter Quarters’ of the Mormons.

Mormon Trail Map Map – October 2, 2014