Mormon Pioneer
Historic Resource Study
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While this historic resource study stresses the work of the pioneers of 1846-1847 it should be remembered that up to 70,000 other Mormons made much the same trek through the time of the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869. This study of trail documents reveals that the basic experience (as described above) of all immigrating Mormons was similar. A brief account of the post-1847 Mormon immigration follows.

This subsequent period of immigration can be conveniently divided into four groups and time periods, with two minor sub-topics.

  • Wagon emigrants: 1848-1860
    (canal, lake, and riverboats)

  • Handcart emigrants: 1856-1860
    (The Brigham Young Express Company, 1856-1857)

  • Church ox team emigrants: 1860-1868
    "Rail and trail" emigrants: 1856-1868


The main difference between the pioneers of 1846-1847 and subsequent Mormon emigrants was that each year the trek became a little easier as a result of experience, established (and enforced) discipline, better roads, ferries, bridges, and the ever-increasing number of trail-side services like blacksmithing, medical assistance, military installations, trading establishments, and the telegraph.

Another big difference between the early companies of 1847-1848 and subsequent parties is that once the trail was well established and trail routine and discipline fixed, the leadership of post-1848 companies was turned over to lower-level leaders and even to missionaries returning from their fields of labor. Young and Kimball, for example, never led any immigrating companies after 1848. (For details on all pioneer companies that crossed the plains during 1847-1868 see Appendix B, Document 6, and for an estimate of the number of emigrants by year see Document 5.)

Still another difference was the use of trail variants such as those developed in southern Iowa, or via Mitchell Pass in Nebraska, not crossing the Platte River at Fort Laramie in Wyoming, and many Oregon Trail variants. Post-1847 Mormons even used entirely different trails.

Between 1846-1853, Mormons infrequently used the Dragoon Trail between Montrose, Iowa, to what is now Des Moines, Iowa. Between 1849-1859 they sometimes traveled the Ox-Bow Trail, a variant of the Oregon Trail, which extended from Nebraska City, Nebraska, to Fort Kearny on the Platte. Then from 1860 to about 1866, Mormons infrequently used the Nebraska City Cutoff Trail, another variant of the Oregon Trail, which replaced the older Ox-Bow Trail, from Nebraska City to Fort Kearny. A few Mormons, between 1846 and about 1853, also used the little-known-today Trappers' Trail between Bent's Fort, in what is now Colorado, on the Arkansas River, to Fort Laramie on the North Platte. During the 1850s and 1860s some Mormons also traveled The Overland Trail from near what is now Sidney, Nebraska, to Fort Bridger. A major trail variant even appeared in Utah. This was the Golden Road, a 42-mile-long variant of the original Mormon Trail in Utah. Between 1850 and 1869, many Mormons preferred this variant, which left the 1847 trail at the mouth of Emigration Canyon and entered Salt Lake City via Parley's Canyon. [1]

Canal Boats, Lake Boats, and Riverboats

Perhaps one other observation should be made and that is regarding the Mormon use of rivers, lakes, and canals in their westward movement. Beginning in 1831 Mormons used various canal boats, lake boats, and riverboats to reach their several church headquarters in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois.

In 1831, the Mormons in western New York and northern Pennsylvania proceeded by way of Cayuga Lake steamers, Erie Canal boats, and Lake Erie steamers to Kirtland, Ohio. (See Appendix A, Map 1.) And in the 1840s a few other Mormons used the Erie Canal en route to Nauvoo, Illinois. This author has found a few journal references from the 1830s and 1840s to Mormons traveling other canals like the Pennsylvania State Canal between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the Ohio and Erie Canal between Cleveland and Portsmouth, and the Miami and Erie Canal between Toledo and Cincinnati. References were also found to Mormons traveling on Lake Erie.

While few Mormons used canal and lake boats, thousands traveled on riverboats. Some Mormons went to Missouri via the Missouri River, thousands reached Nauvoo on the Mississippi River via New Orleans and St. Louis. After the Mormons began departing the Far West from various Missouri River locations, most emigrants reached Missouri via Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri riverboats until the railroad reached the Missouri in 1859.

According to contemporary Mormon journal accounts of riverboat travel, Mormon emigrants experienced not only "enchantingly beautiful scenery," kind "colored waiters," and their own preaching, but also snags, cholera, accidents, death (most riverboats carried extra coffins for those who died aboard), miscarriages, explosions (many, for example, died in the Saluda disaster near Lexington, Missouri, on the Missouri River in 1852), and what they took to be "anti-Mormon" sentiments. A few emigrants could afford cabin class passage, but most, unfortunately, traveled in steerage—on the crowded lower decks with the animals and baggage (including an occasional occupied coffin), and few amenities. Sometimes passengers, including at least two Mormon children, fell overboard and were lost.


A major change in the pattern of Mormon immigration took place in 1856 in Iowa City, Iowa, with the development of a remarkable travel experiment in the history of the west—the handcart experience. [2] In 1854 the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad (C&RI) reached the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Illinois; two years later the railroad bridged (or should one say trestled?) the Mississippi and connected with the Missouri and Mississippi Railroad that ran to Iowa City. Thereafter, through 1858, most European Mormon emigrants took various railroads from Atlantic ports, connecting with the C&RI, directly to Iowa City, which became the main point of departure for the Rocky Mountains. (Beginning in 1859 most handcart pioneers took the Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad to St. Joseph, Missouri, thence by riverboat to Florence [now North Omaha], Nebraska.)

Brigham Young, safely settled in Utah since 1847, had also decided to try this supposedly faster, easier, cheaper, and certainly more unusual way to bring thousands of European converts to Salt Lake City. While the Mormons were not the first to use some kind of carts going west (some gold-rushers, for example, had experimented with wheelbarrows and some who had moved into trans-Appalachia after the War of 1812 used handcarts), [3] they were the first and only group to use them extensively, certainly the first to transport entire emigrant companies with them. [4]

The Mormon open carts varied in size and were modeled after carts used by street sweepers; they were made almost entirely out of wood. They were generally six or seven feet long, the width of a wide track wagon, and carried about 500 pounds of flour, bedding, extra clothing, cooking utensils, and a tent. The carts could be pushed or pulled by hand. Some were painted with mottos and inscriptions like 'Truth Will Prevail," "Merry Mormons," and "Zion's Express." Most companies also had a few ox-drawn wagons to carry extra supplies. [5] (See Appendix D, Illustration 35.) These Mormons, mainly from England, Wales, and Scandinavia, landed in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, and traveled by train via Chicago to Iowa City, Iowa.

Train travel was easier than travel by wagon, but it was far from luxurious. Trains averaged 20 miles an hour and had no sleeping accommodations or dining cars. Smoke and soot were everywhere, sanitation facilities were primitive, and schedules were erratic. Travelers had to provide their own food or pick it up en route. Many spent nights sitting up or in warehouses or barns. Some Mormons felt they were singled out for rude treatment by railway officials. Passenger cars sometimes caught fire or derailed. Some women gave birth en route. But on the emigrants came. (During the Civil War, because of wartime demands, rail travel became even more difficult and uncomfortable. Mormons often had to travel in cattle cars.) [6] Handcart emigrants crossed the Iowa River and went to the staging area that had been located on the banks of Clear Creek, 3 miles west of Iowa City, at a small settlement known as Clark's Mills, now called Coralville.

This famous experiment involved 2,962 people in 10 companies from 1856 through 1860, but only the first 7 companies, or 2,071 Saints (70 percent of the total), trod Iowa soil. [7] The handcart company of 1859 entrained at New York City and reached St. Joseph, Missouri, on the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, where they took a Missouri River riverboat to Florence, Nebraska. The C&RI reached Council Bluffs in 1860 and handcart companies of that year (the last year of the handcart experiment) were able to ride the C&RI all the way to Council Bluffs. With the exception of the fourth and fifth companies of 1856, the famous Martin and Willie companies, which started too late in the year and were trapped in Wyoming snows, the system was a success.

The first 7 companies made the 275-mile trip across Iowa from Iowa City, Iowa, to Florence, Nebraska, in from 21 to 39 days, averaging 25 days and 11 miles a day. (See Appendix A, Map 10.) The first company of 226 persons started out on June 9, 1856, led by the Birmingham Brass Band from England, and arrived in Utah September 26th. March music and singing kept the people together and helped ward off tedium and fatigue. The most popular of all songs was the famous "Handcart Song":

Some must push and some must pull
As we go marching up the hill,
As merrily on the way we go
Until we reach the valley, oh!

In Coralville, Iowa, the Daughters of the American Revolution have erected a bronzed tablet commemorating the handcart companies. It is located on the south side of the road just west of the intersection of Fifth Street and Tenth Avenue. Also in Coralville and the western part of Iowa City is the Mormon Trek Boulevard, a modern highway honoring these pioneers.

In 1976, in connection with the U.S. Bicentennial Celebration, a several-acre Mormon Handcart Park was developed in Coralville on ground owned by the University of Iowa, through funds provided by the Mormon Church. The site is near Clear Creek and U.S. 6, near the Hawkeye Court housing complex to the west of Mormon Trek Boulevard. There are three markers at this site having extensive text commemorating a pioneer campsite, pioneer burial ground, and the whole site in general.

Although the handcart pioneers did not know it before starting, Iowa roads were to be veritable "super highways" compared to what lay west of the Missouri. Like all Mormon pioneers before and after them, they used the best, most convenient roads and trails. Since at least 1846, when Brigham Young led the Saints across Iowa, there had been some kind of a road between Iowa City and Council Bluffs. In the beginning it had been a military road to Fort Des Moines, and later a territorial, state, mail, and coach route. Most of the handcart pioneer journals of 1856-1857 refer often to the good roads. In fact, had the Saints not been so poor, they could have ridden over the roads by stagecoach to the Missouri for about eleven dollars a person.

Today's Highway 6 generally follows this old trans-Iowa road as far as Redfield. From Coralville the pioneers passed through Homestead and South Amana, two German colonies established in 1854. (This part of Highway 6 up to Grinnell is also marked as the Hiawatha Pioneer Trail.) Passing through Marengo, Brooklyn, Grinnell, Newton, and Rising Sun, they reached Fort Des Moines. The old fort on the west bank of the Des Moines River was by then abandoned, but still standing. Near the intersection of Riverside Drive and Southwest First Street in Des Moines is a granite marker commemorating this old fort and part of the newly restored fort.

West of Des Moines, the Mormons proceeded via Adel to Redfield. West of Redfield, the old trail is only approximated by today's roads. From Redfield the pioneers went to Bear Grove. Merely a wide spot in the road today, Bear Grove was then an important coach stop and a place where the pioneers obtained necessary supplies. (It is in Guthrie County, in section 18, T79N, R32W.)

From Bear Grove the Saints traveled the old military, or Dragoon Road, now largely nonexistent, to what is now Lewis, where they intersected the pioneer trail of 1846 and followed it directly to Council Bluffs. There, crossing the Missouri by ferry, they arrived at the new staging ground in Florence, Nebraska, and made final preparations to go to the Salt Lake Valley.

In the Lewis, Iowa, town park, there are two markers commemorating the Mormon Trail. One is a section of a telephone pole with "Mormon Trail" carved into it; a few yards away is a handsome bronze marker that was placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1917. (See Historic Site 12.)

In the Trans-Missouri west, the handcarters followed the established Mormon Trail into their new Zion and, as previously noted, most of these companies made it safely there. [8] Across Nebraska all the of the handcart companies made the journey successfully. Their route and general experiences were much like other westering Mormons. They did move faster and, of course, suffered less from accidents occasioned by draft animals, heavy wagons, and stampedes. Costs were reduced by about one-third. Handcarters were able to transport less food, far few belongings, and of course, could neither ride in the carts nor sleep in them. Handcart companies also seemed to have a higher percentage of European emigrants; one company was largely Welsh, one Scandinavian, and in one, nine different languages were spoken. And most also made it successfully across Wyoming.

The joy of the success of this new, faster, and cheaper way of immigrating soon turned to sorrow with the tragic experience of the Willie and Martin companies, the 4th and 5th companies of 1856. When they arrived on the Missouri River, they found their carts were not yet prepared. Some wisely thought they should postpone the crossing of the plains that year, but such wisdom was decried by others as evidence of a weak faith. So, after a delay and with some carts made of green wood, the two companies headed west.

After reaching what is now Wyoming, they were caught in an early snowstorm. Among the Martin company of 576, a total of 145 (about 25 percent) died of exposure across Wyoming, as many as thirteen a night. Most could not be buried because the ground was so frozen. This company reached what has become known as Martin's Cove (see Historic Site 47) about November 3rd. It was 2 miles west of Devil's Gate. On the 6th, the temperature dropped to eleven degrees below zero. It was here a rescue party from Utah finally reached this company. Across Wyoming the Willie's company lost 77 persons (about 19 percent) out of 404. They managed to push on to a camp on Rock Creek (see Historic Site 51) where they awaited rescue, a rescue that came near the end of October.

The handcart experiment continued in 1857, and worked well until it ended in 1860. In 1857, for example, an attempt was made across Nebraska to establish supply stations for the benefit of handcarters. This effort had just gotten under way when the cancellation of a government contract ended it. Thereafter, the handcart companies replenished their supplies as best they could, bartering with the Indians, killing what animals they could, sometimes receiving supplies sent out from Salt Lake City, and buying what they needed from the ever-growing number of supply stations, forts, and trading posts along the trail.

The handcart company of 1859 experienced what this author considers the most bizarre trail experience of the entire Mormon immigration. Near Devil's Gate, in what is now Wyoming, the Mormons met a group of Indians who had just won a battle with another tribe. "The victorious tribe were [Sic] parading around with scalps suspended on sticks which they held high in the air. They had a number of prisoners. They invited a number of us boys to go to their camp that night to witness them torture to death their prisoners. However, we respectfully declined." [9]

In summary, about 3,000 emigrants in 10 companies were transported west between 1856 and 1860, in 653 carts and 50 supply wagons. Generally, they traveled successfully, and cheaper and faster than wagon trains. The handcart era ended after 1860, when the Mormons switched to large church ox-team trains sent out from Salt Lake City to haul emigrants and freight west from the Missouri and other points. (This change is detailed below under "Church Team Emigrants, 1860-1868.")

The Brigham Young Express Company 1856-1857

There is one more dimension to the Mormon Trail which, while it pertains little to immigration, deserves mention in this study. This is the short-lived Brigham Young Express and Carrying Company (popularly known as the Y.X. Company) of 1856-1857. It has a place in this study because the route of the company generally was the Mormon Trail of 1847. [10]

In 1856 the Mormon Church bid for and received a four-year contract for monthly mail service between Independence, Missouri, and Salt Lake City. Wagons, animals, feed, stations, and men were quickly lined up, and mail service commenced February 8, 1857. Soon the church was preparing to carry freight as well. The first permanent stations or settlements were set up at Genoa (see Historic site 24), about 100 miles west of Omaha, and on Deer Creek (just west of Deer Creek in what is now Glenrock, Wyoming). Other stations were begun at the Horseshoe Creek stage station (2 miles due south of what is now Glendo, Wyoming, NW1/4; of SW1/4, Sec. 21, T29N, R68W), at La Bonte Creek (La Bonte Stage Stop 10 miles south of Douglas, Wyoming, at NE1/4;, SW1/4, Sec. 33, T31N, R71W), Devil's Gate (near the Gate, just south of the Sweetwater River and abandoned Wyoming Highway 220, [see Historic Site 46], and at Rocky Ridge [Secs. 21, 27, and 35, T29N, R97W], a very remote and difficult place to visit today). The Mormons also made use of other existing stations at Fort Laramie (see Historic Site 33), Sweet Water (known today as Burnt Ranch, just south of the Sweetwater River, in NW1/4, SE1/4, Sec. 26, T28N, R100W), and Fort Bridger (see Historic Site 58). The proposed sites at Horse Shoe Creek, La Bonte Creek, Deer Creek, Devil's Gate, and Sweetwater River were surveyed into 640-acre or one square-mile rectangles—160 rods by 640 rods, or 2 miles by-1/2-mile sections.

The main objective was eventually to have stations every 50 miles—the daily distance attainable by mule teams. Such stations would also be aids to Mormon emigrants by stocking and providing grain and other basic supplies, where hay and other crops could be raised. Then suddenly the contract was canceled because of the political influence of rival mail contractors and all the Mormon mail and freight stations were closed for good.


In 1860 Mormon leaders abandoned the handcart experiment in favor of the church ox-team method. [11] This was done for two reasons: the discovery that loaded ox teams could be sent from Utah to the Missouri, pick up emigrants (and merchandise), and return to Utah in one season, and for better use of the church's own resources, that is to save money. Furthermore, although cheaper and somewhat faster, the handcart system was never popular. In the few instances where emigrants had a choice between handcarts and wagon trains, most chose the latter.

By means of these "down and back" trips, the Mormons could export their own flour, beans, and bacon to supply the emigrants, and use the cash saved to buy and freight back needed supplies not available in Utah. Furthermore emigrants could be saved the expense and trouble of obtaining their own wagons or carts and draft animals to take them west.

The 2,200-mile round trip could be made in approximately six months. Church leaders arranged for the men, equipment, and supplies, and organized the trains into groups of about fifty each. The captain of each company was given complete authority to get the job done.

All the men involved were regarded as "missionaries," and were given credit on the tithing books for the value of service rendered—they were in effect paying their 10 percent church tithing "in kind." There was one other fringe benefit—bachelors often found brides among the emigrants—had first pick, so to speak. Happily, romance flourished throughout the entire Mormon immigration period.

Each wagon was pulled by four yoke of oxen or mules and carried about 1,000 pounds of supplies. The teams were expected to reach the Missouri River at Florence (old Winter Quarters or modern North Omaha), in July and return with ten to twenty emigrants per wagon and all the freight they could load. (Later the jumping-off place moved to a now forgotten community with the strange name of Wyoming, Nebraska Territory, [12] and finally to Laramie and Benton, in the state of Wyoming.)

This system lasted for the period 1860-1868, and required about 2,000 wagons 2,500 teamsters, 17,550 oxen and brought approximately 20,500 emigrants to Utah. [13] The first three years, the jumping-off place was Florence, Nebraska Territory. In 1864, however, the Mormons switched to the community of Wyoming, Nebraska, where they followed the (little known today) Nebraska City Cutoff Trail. [14] (See Appendix A, Map 11.)

The principal reasons for the Mormons' switch from Florence to Wyoming seems to have been because emigrants from the east could take trains directly to St. Joseph, Missouri, then take an approximately 94-mile riverboat ride to the community of Wyoming, and then the cutoff trail shortened the distance from the Missouri River to the area of Fort Kearny, by about 50 miles. The cutoff ran 169 miles directly west to Fort Kearny on the Oregon Trail, where the Mormons could either continue on the Oregon Trail or cross the Platte River and pick up the MPNHT.

The community of Wyoming, founded as a river port in 1855, was 45 miles south of Florence and 7 miles north of Nebraska City. The Mormons favored it over Florence because it provided more open area for their staging ground and was well removed from the rough elements of Nebraska City and other lures that might have caused emigrants to not go west. [15]

Twenty-two organized Mormon emigrant companies (see Appendix B, Document 6) left Wyoming during its three-year service (1864-1866). It is estimated that the companies totaled about 6,500 emigrants. In addition, probably some 500 or more Mormons traveled as individuals with non-Mormon trains from nearby Nebraska City. [16]

Of all the early Mormon emigrant trails, one of the least known today among Mormons is the Nebraska City Cutoff Trail. There are about ten historic markers along this old trail, but none refer to the Mormons. No church teams were sent east in 1867, largely because the Union Pacific railroad reached North Platte, Nebraska, that year and immigrating plans were in flux.

In 1868, when church teams were again sent east, they were dispatched to the Union Pacific railhead at Laramie, Wyoming, during July and August and to the Benton, Wyoming, railhead during August and September, and picked up a total of ten emigrant companies. That year was the last year of the wagon, handcart, or church team Mormon emigrant. The transcontinental railroad reached Utah May 10, 1869, and from that time on emigrants could ride the rails all the way to Zion. From these two railheads, at Laramie and Benton, Mormon emigrants would have picked up the Overland-Bridger Pass Trail, followed it to Fort Bridger and then taken the Mormon Trail into Utah. [17]


Prior to the 1850s, Mormon emigrants seldom used railroads. There is one account of rail travel in 1837, and a few traveled to Nauvoo, Illinois, by rail in the 1840s. But it was not until 1856 that the use of railroads by Mormons became common. [18]

As has already been noted in the discussion of the handcart companies, Mormon emigrants made little use of railroads until the Chicago and Rock Island RR reached the Mississippi River at Rock Island, Illinois, in 1854, whence it was possible to continue west by riverboats to various jumping-off sites, such as Fort Leavenworth, on the Missouri River. When the railroad went from Rock Island, Illinois, to Iowa City, Iowa, in 1856, many Mormon emigrants, especially the handcart pioneers, "took cars" to that terminal.

Another big rise in the use of rail travel was when the Hannibal and St. Joseph RR reached St. Joseph, Missouri, on the Missouri River in 1859, whence emigrants generally took riverboats to the Council Bluffs-Florence area and proceeded west. (The handcart company of 1859 did this, the first Mormons to do so.)

Thereafter, until 1867 when the Mormons were able to ride the Union Pacific RR to North Platte, Nebraska, this was the most popular manner for Mormon emigrants to reach the Missouri River and points of departure for the Far West. During the Civil War years of 1861-1865, emigrant travel by rail was difficult, especially in Missouri, where pro- and anti-Union forces in that state often clashed: timetables were erratic, routes were interrupted, impeded, and changed. Trail travel was dangerous. Bridges were blown up or burned and military units. Rail travel, at least the accommodations most Mormon emigrants could afford, hadn't improved much over the conditions of the 1850s. Passenger cars often had no springs, benches had no backs, sometimes emigrants rode in cattle cars full of lice and dirt. Food and water had to be carried or purchased in route.

Mormons also used other railroads to go west. After 1859 when the North Missouri RR, out of St. Charles, Missouri, intersected with the Hannibal and St. Joseph RR, it was possible for Mormons to take the Chicago and Alton RR to Alton, Illinois, and St. Louis, thence to St. Joseph. Some Mormons picked up the Hannibal and St. Joseph RR via the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy RR (which reached the Mississippi River in 1855). In 1867 some Mormons reached Council Bluffs, Iowa, via the Chicago and Northwestern RR.

After the Civil War, the Union Pacific RR began moving west from Omaha, Nebraska, on July 10, 1865. The following year, the Mormons abandoned the rail terminal at St. Joseph and the connecting Nebraska City Cutoff and, sequentially, took trains to four Union Pacific railheads: North Platte, Nebraska, and Julesburg, Colorado, in 1867, and Laramie and Benton, Wyoming, in 1868. (See Appendix B, Document 6 and Appendix A, Map 12.) Here the emigrants were met by church trains from Salt Lake.

Because the Union Pacific RR, moving west from Omaha, Nebraska, was in a race with the Central Pacific RR, moving east from Sacramento, California, male emigrants were sometimes offered reduced or free tickets if they would work on the road bed. [19]

Each of the railheads became a wide-open, rip-roaring town, which greatly concerned Mormon leaders. The first three are still prospering, but Benton is distinctive for having become the first ghost town in Wyoming, lasting only from July through September 1868. It was located on the eastern edge of the Red Desert, 11 miles east of what is now Rawlins, near the North Platte River. (The curious can find the exact location of Benton by looking for Union Pacific milepost number 672.1, indicating precisely how far one is west of Omaha, off old Highway 30.) Church wagons transported the emigrants to Utah from each of the three remaining railheads.

In 1867, about 500 emigrants took the train to North Platte right on the Mormon Trail, thence to Utah via that trail. In 1868, five companies totaling about 1,850 pioneers left Laramie during July and August in wagons sent by the church. From Laramie the only reasonable route west would have been via the Overland-Bridger Pass Trail (see Appendix A, Map 12) to Fort Bridger, to pick up the Mormon Trail there. Also in 1868, about 2,000 pioneers in five companies left Benton during August and September. From Benton, Mormon emigrants could have gone about 50 miles north and picked up the Mormon Trail, but most went a few miles south and took the Overland-Bridger Pass Trail to Fort Bridger, to intersect the main route. (A few Mormons appear to have jumped off at Julesburg.)

After the Union Pacific RR reached Utah in 1869, emigrants took rails all the way from the east coast. The great trek was over and the Mormon Trail began to slowly disappear and fade from memory.


In the 1930s, in connection with the centennial of the Mormon Church, a movement started to better locate, preserve, and mark the old trail. One of the first organizations to do so was the Utah Pioneer and Landmarks Association. The Daughters of Utah Pioneers and the Sons of Utah Pioneers have also erected hundreds of trail markers. The Mormon Pioneer Trail Foundation does much research on the old trail. And several federal agencies, including the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management, state, and local organizations and individuals have done much to locate, foster, preserve, and mark the trail. The Historic Sites Committee of the Mormon Church works to the same end.


Readers of this work are referred to the bibliography in this study for a guide to further research. Despite the extensive literature on the Mormon Trail, much research needs to be done. Generally speaking, we need to know more about every aspect of the Mormon immigration that is treated in this study. To begin with, there are hundreds of existing trail accounts that need further analysis, and new ones are found frequently. For more than twenty-five years, this author has studied trails used by the Mormons and yet, there is much to be done, especially regarding trail variants and feeder trails. We know little of the Mormon use of some Oregon Trail variants from Independence, Westport, Weston, St. Joseph, Fort Leavenworth, Nebraska City, Plattsmouth, Bellevue, or a variant north of the Platte River at Fort Laramie, or the Seminoe and Blacks Fork cutoffs. We know little of the Mormon use of feeder trails like the Santa Fe, Trappers' and Cherokee. We need to know much more about Mormon sea voyages, and their use of canals, lakes, and rivers. We have just touched the surface of their westering by rail experiences, and we need to know much more of their use of various stage routes and federal wagon roads.

Much is waiting to be done regarding the Mormons and the military, the telegraph, the eastbound use of the trail, and "go backs," or disgruntled Mormons who left Utah and returned east. We have only begun to study such social questions of trail values, norms, sanctions, courts, entertainment, single emigrants, the questions of privacy, sanitation, and intimate relations, exceptional behavior, crisis events, Blacks and other minorities, children, sex roles, and the division of labor.

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Last Updated: 08-Oct-2003