Ten places not to miss in Nauvoo

By Susan Easton Black

For Mormon Times

Published: Monday, April 11 2011 4:00 a.m. MDT

Try as I might to pull down classroom walls to capture the sights and sounds of old Nauvoo, there is no substitute for being there. Browsing through photographs of the Nauvoo Temple, the Mansion House or the restored Webb Brothers' Blacksmith Shop can never take the place of walking the streets of the historic city or pausing to read the personal accounts on Parley Street “reader boards,” such as:

“I was in Nauvoo on the 26th day of May 1846 for the last time, and left the city of the Saints feeling that most likely I was taking a final farewell of Nauvoo for this life. I looked upon the temple and City as they receded from view and asked the Lord to remember the sacrifices of his Saints.” — Wilford Woodruff

It is no secret that the sights, sounds, people and countryside of Nauvoo bring the past alive. Every year thousands of travelers discover the wonders of Nauvoo. Why not you? For me, the city gained new meaning as I saw for the first time the reconstructed Nauvoo Temple.

During the April 1999 general conference when President Gordon B. Hinckley announced, “We plan to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple,” I began making travel plans. I had walked the streets of Nauvoo many times, but I knew nothing could compare to standing next to a beautifully restored temple. As it turned out, there were others who had the same idea. In fact, I was one of more than 330,000 visitors who flocked to Nauvoo to attend the temple open house in May and June of 2002. There was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude when I first saw the magnificent Nauvoo Temple.

Have you ever felt the same when visiting a historic site? If not, make travel plans to visit beautiful Nauvoo. More than 30 sites await you in this quaint town along the Mississippi River. You need to allow yourself ample time, so plan to stay in the Nauvoo area for at least three days. Be sure to note the times that the sites are open. During the evening hours, as the old saying goes, “The town rolls up the sidewalk.” As of summer 2011, historic sites are open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. On Sunday, the hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Every site is worth a visit, but on your trip don’t miss these 10 places:

1. The Nauvoo Temple

The temple is breathtaking — the most splendid of all the restoration efforts in Nauvoo. Every effort was made to ensure that the 1846 limestone exterior of the original temple was replicated in design and dimension, including pilasters, sunstones, moonstones and star stones. Visitors are invited to walk the temple grounds and enjoy the beauty of the temple, and go into the Temple Visitors’ Center and see the film that was shown at the temple open house. The film will give a better understanding of the importance and blessings of making and keeping sacred covenants with God.

2. Nauvoo Visitors’ Center

The Nauvoo Visitors’ Center is a good place to start your tour of old Nauvoo. The center was dedicated on Sept. 4, 1971, by President N. Eldon Tanner, second counselor in the First Presidency. The imposing, 24,000-square-feet structure is built of handmade brick.

In the Visitors’ Center, listen as missionaries tell the story of Joseph Smith, beginning with his First Vision and ending with his death in Carthage, Ill. Take time to view the video “Remembering Nauvoo,” which relates stories of people who actually lived in town. To hear their stories, as told from personal diaries and letters, is to journey to the beginnings of Nauvoo where men and women suffered and won great things and left shadows of a mighty presence.

Enjoy a short message from the scriptures in the Savior’s own words as you stand near a replica of the “Christus” by famed sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen.

As you walk outside the Visitors’ Center, don’t miss the Women’s Garden with its 13 heroic-sized statues symbolizing a woman’s role in the home and in society.

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