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Picturing history: Nauvoo drainage ditches

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 28 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

When the Latter-day Saints first settled the area now known as Nauvoo, Ill., it was a mosquito-infested swampland on the bank of the Mississippi River.

Kenneth Mays,

When the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first settled the area now known as Nauvoo, Ill., it was a mosquito-infested swampland on the bank of the Mississippi River.

The History of the Church records that the Prophet Joseph Smith made the following observation about the site: "The place was literally a wilderness. The land was mostly covered with trees and bushes, and much of it so wet that it was with the utmost difficulty a footman could get through, and totally impossible for teams."

In spite of the difficulties, the Saints followed what Joseph counseled them to do.

One great challenge was the ague or malaria caused by mosquitoes. That problem was greatly improved by the ditches that drained the swamp. Some of those ditches, like the one seen here, have survived to this day.

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