Ten places not to miss in Nauvoo

By Susan Easton Black

For Mormon Times

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

In spring of 1843 Wilford Woodruff started building his home in Nauvoo by bartering for 1,500 bricks in exchange for a pair of shoes, a shawl and a pair of pantaloons. He worked hard on the home, recording in his journal, “I went to a brick kiln and flung out 7,000 brick for my house ... nearly melted myself.” Can you find each of the eight fireplaces in the home? Fireplaces were an unusual comfort on the Illinois frontier in the 1840s. As for the owner, Wilford Woodruff spent fewer than a hundred nights in the finished home before joining the exodus to the West.

9. Wagon Tour of “Old Nauvoo”

Just in case you didn’t get to see it all, take a wagon ride through the historic city. The ride can be a little bumpy, but the hour spent in the wagon will be well worth it. Listen as missionaries tell of historic sites as the wagon moves along. You will pass by a grove where outdoor church meetings took place and a reconstructed David and Patty Sessions log home. Did you know that Patty Sessions was a midwife and is credited with delivering hundreds of babies in the Nauvoo era? Then take a look at the Lyon Drug Store and herb garden, the Scovil Bakery and Pioneer Pastimes where young and old participate in spirited pioneer games. Discover the Pendleton Log School, the brickyard and Lucy Mack Smith’s brick home. Learn of the bustling blacksmith shop where wagons were built for the westward journey. You will find yourself captivated by the stories missionaries share of the great and noble who long ago walked the streets of Nauvoo. Don’t forget to look for the wonders of nature on this ride. Turtles sunning on floating logs in the Mississippi or flocks of geese flying overhead are always the norm.

10. Trail of Hope

No tour to historic Nauvoo would be complete without a walk down Parley Street or what is known as the “Trail of Hope.” Beginning in February 1846, families loaded their wagons and lined the street waiting for their turn to cross the Mississippi River on a skiff. President Gordon B. Hinckley, at the dedication of the Nauvoo Temple on June 27, 2002, asked everyone in Nauvoo to capture the spirit of the pioneers who made this long and arduous trek by walking down Parley Street.

As you walk the Trail of Hope read the “reader boards” that tell of those who left Nauvoo.

“My last act in that precious spot was to tidy the rooms, sweep up the floor and set the broom in its accustomed place behind the door. Then with emotions in my heart ... I gently closed the door and faced an unknown future; faced it with faith in God.” — Bathsheba Smith

What are you waiting for? Nauvoo beckons!

Of course, it isn’t necessary to visit Nauvoo to know that Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith is the Prophet of the Restoration or that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, but don’t be surprised if your travels include a testimony-building component. The sacred sites you visit will be remembered long after suitcases are unpacked or as the poet Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain penned, "In Great Deeds, something abides. On great fields, something stays. Forms change and pass. Bodies disappear; but spirits linger."

Susan Easton Black is a professor of LDS Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University and an author. She is also past associate dean of General Education and Honors and director of Church History in the Religious Studies Center.

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