The 2 sources of information for this blog are: the National Park Service’s Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail brochure and Brigham Young Pioneer Prophet, a book by John Turner.
In the 21st century a lot more information about the Mormons and Brigham Young became available, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave more access to “church-controlled primary sources”. John Turner took advantage of this and wrote a book about Brigham Young. It was published in 2012. The 1st half of it mostly provides details about their journey from Illinois to Utah. The rest is about Young and his leadership of the church.
In reading it, I learned a lot that I didn’t know. The temple the Mormons built in Nauvoo, Illinois, was not their first. They had already built one in Kirtland, Ohio. It no longer exists. Brigham Young knew they were going to Utah, and 55 miles into the 1846 journey he planned to eventually send 300 men over the mountains to plant spring crops near their destination. The Mormons first settled in Missouri but then moved to Illinois and built the town of Nauvoo when this state proved far friendlier. By 1845 there were 11,000 Mormons living in Nauvoo, which is now an interesting place to visit.
The Mormon Trail west generally followed the Platte and North Platte rivers for more than 600 miles. After the railroad arrived in 1869 the trail continued to be used into the early 1900s. Between 1846 and 1869, 70,000 Mormons took it to the State of Deseret, which eventually became the Utah Territory and finally the State of Utah. While on the trail fervent Mormons held devotional services. Because others were sure to follow, they improved the trail and built support facilities. Someone took his or her piano across the plains on the Mormon Trail. Some semi-permanent camps were established along the way. Winter Quarters were established north of present-day Omaha, Nebraska. This facility was used for years. The Mormons followed the track of the notorious Donner-Reed party through the Wasatch Mountains. The Barlow Road near the end of the Oregon Trail proved to be the hardest section to negotiate. Similarly, the last 112 miles of the Mormon Trail from Fort Bridger to the Great Salt Lake was the most difficult.
I believe that a book on a shelf isn’t being used properly. I found the first half of John Turner’s book fascinating. The 2nd half tells the history of Brigham Young’s leadership of the church until his death using copious details. If you’re a detail-person, you might like it. I will send this book to the first person who requests it and provides an address. It will be free, and I only ask that he or she pass it along when they are through with it.
ps: That’s Brigham Young below.