McIlwaine’s Bend on the Missouri River is mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants as the site where Section 61 was revealed (see section heading). As a geographic feature, however, the bend no longer exists.
Over the years, the course of the Missouri River has been altered. Efforts were made by man to straighten and deepen the river to better allow river traffic to navigate this waterway. Mother Nature took over from there. Sharp and shallow turns in the river were significantly changed. McIlwaine’s Bend disappeared, as did multiple shallow spots, hairpin turns, sandbars and the like. The Missouri River has moved more than a mile from its 1831 route in some locations.
The approximate site of the revelation found in Doctrine and Covenants 61 has been determined as follows by Missouri scholar Max H. Parkin. He explains that Mormon sources identify the approximate area of the site as being about 100 miles east of Independence, Missouri, likely between Miami, Missouri, and Teteseau Bend, 5 miles west of the Miami Bridge.Comment on this story
Parkin also notes that “the name ‘McIlwaine’s Bend’ was not used by the U.S. Corp of Engineers, which surveyed the river in 1878 and recorded the name of each bend.” LaMar C. Berrett likewise suggests that Miami, Missouri, is the approximate site of where McIlwaine’s Bend was situated when Joseph Smith passed by in 1831 (see Max H. Parkin,"Sacred Places, Vol. 4" edited by in LaMar C. Berrett). The little town of Miami is on the south side of the river in Saline County. Presently, the river serves as the county line separating Saline from Carroll County to the north.