This historic resource study was prepared to identify and evaluate the historic events and resources related to the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail. The study will be distributed by the National Park Service to federal, state, local, and private entities along the trail to enable them to better interpret a common body of history to interested parties.
The study focuses on the history of the trail from its official beginning in Nauvoo, Illinois, to its terminus in Salt Lake City, Utah, during the period 1846-1869. During that time, thousands of Mormon emigrants used many trails and trail variants to reach Utah. This study emphasizes the "Pioneer Route" or " Brigham Young Route" of 1846-1847.
The document is divided into four parts. The first includes a discussion of Mormon history and beliefs, reasons for going west, a background of the whole emigration, and the story of the trek across Iowa in 1846. The second provides a detailed account of the crossing of the plains during the years 1847 through 1868 by wagon emigrants, handcarters, church team emigrants, and "rail to trail" emigrants. The third part identifies and evaluates historic resources along the trail. And the fourth part consists of four appendices, keyed to the text, containing documents about the trail and the Mormons.
Several of my ancestors "crossed the plains," and I have personally traveled every trail mentioned in this study many times since 1963, and have annotated more than 900 contemporary Mormon Trail accounts.
I would like to acknowledge the help, advice, and support I have received in this work. Michael Snyder and Michael Duwe of the Rocky Mountain Regional Office of the National Park Service have been supportive from the inception of this project. I wish also to thank two outside readers, Charles S. Peterson and Thomas G. Alexander, who read the entire manuscript and offered many helpful suggestions. Especially I must thank Jere Krakow of the National Park Service's Denver Service Center, for critiquing and improving every draft of this work, and for guiding ine in its preparation.
Stanley B. Kimball
Last Updated: 08-Oct-2003