Tips for families on the LDS Church history trail

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  • MaryJ Neillsville, WI
    May 13, 2014 2:54 p.m.

    A forgotten historic site is the Wisconsin Pineries. If you have time after seeing the beautiful Nauvoo temple, come up to the Wisconsin Pineries to see where the Mormon Logger Missionaries harvested the timber to build the original temple, Nauvoo house (and probably most of the homes AND maybe even the wagons that carried the saints west). An historic marker was placed at Black River Falls last year (2013) where the sawmills were. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir purchased the marker, then stopped in Black River Falls to sing and dedicate the marker during their Midwest tour. Ten+ choir members discovered they were descendants of some of the loggers. There are still some areas that bear the marks of the "Mormons" in the Pineries: the Mormon Riffles north of Black River Falls, the Mormon clearings - which were the beginnings of the community of Neillsville, WI, and Cunningham Creek (just south of Neillsville) which was named after the only Mormon logger who died in the 4 years the Mormon Logger Missionaries were in the Wisconsin Pineries. I would be happy to give you tour and tell you all about it.

    May 13, 2014 5:28 a.m.

    Spend some time at Fort Bridger, then get directions to Fort Supply (in Robertson, Southwest of Ft. Bridger). You’ll need directions, there is only a small marker. This site was able to supply some of the needs of the 1856 handcart companies (re: Oliver B. Huntington Diary #12). Then continue on 1-80, which goes down Parley’s Canyon, significant in pioneer days after the original emigration.) If you have accurate directions, you will be able to find your way into Emigration Canyon via East Canyon and Big Mountain. A mountain biking trail follows much of the Donner/Mormon Pioneer route. Stop at This is the Place State Park, then drive into Salt Lake City. Visit the various museums and visitor’s centers at Temple Square where you can get more info about various places around the city. Enjoy your visit!

    May 12, 2014 7:24 p.m.

    When you’re ready to leave the Cove, turn west off 220 onto 287 and look for historical markers. You’ll see the Ice slough where the Willie Handcart Company was located, and will want to stop at the Visitor’s Center at Sixth Crossing. They can direct you on several hikes that can be taken, including the trail up Rocky Ridge. From there, you can either return to the main highway, or follow the Atlantic City Highway to a road—passable in good weather—that goes directly into Rock Creek Hollow (get directions at the Visitor’s Center). Or you can follow the paved highway around to South Pass and come in backwards—but don’t miss Rock Creek Hollow. South Pass City is interesting as well. The Highway down to Farson has several markers describing interesting points about the emigrant trails. If you wish to stick close to the trail, go west from Farson rather than continuing to Rock Springs. You'll eventually get to I-80 and can continue to Fort Bridger. One more post!

    May 12, 2014 6:54 p.m.

    Next stop--Casper, Wyoming. Begin at the National Trails Museum on North Poplar, then visit Fort Caspar. Then stop at Bessemer Bend, the approximate location where the Martin Handcart Company bogged down in October 1856. Then, if you're adventuresome, get directions to follow the trail from Bessemer Bend up the ridges to Prospect Hill.(The trail departed from the Sweetwater Valley for several miles.)Eventually, you'll drop back into the valley at Independence Rock. You'll want to hike around the rock and look for the "newspaper" writings of early immigrants. Just a few miles down the road is Devil's Gate and Martin's Cove. Spend at least the good part of the day here; there is much to see. If you go in June and July, you'll encounter "trekkers" reenacting the fated 1856 handcart company's travails. Hike to the "Gate" and to the Cove; or along the old highway which lies just north of the original Oregon/Mormon Trail. You'll see Split Rock to the west, an approximate day's journey by oxcart for the original pioneers. We're not finished yet, next post please!

    May 12, 2014 6:35 p.m.

    Don't stop in Nauvoo--the National Park Service has an excellent Auto Tour route through Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming that can be accessed by a google search. Follow Iowa Highway 2 for the first stage, then use the map to go further. Among other Iowa sites, Garden Grove, Mt. Pisgah, and Council Bluffs are a must.
    As you cross the Missouri from Council Bluffs into Florence, Nebraska, you'll stop at the Church's Visitor Center, the Winter Quarter's Cemetery and Temple. Then, follow the highway directions on the map--don't use I-80 but follow the course of the Platte River. You'll find many historical markers along the way.
    When you get to Ogallala, take Highway 26 and begin looking for Chimney Rock and Scottsbluff--both are well worth the stop.
    When you enter Wyoming, visit Fort Laramie and inquire in Guernsey for the location of the Oregon Trail wagon ruts and Register Cliffs. If you haven't hiked around at some of the locations already, prepare to do so as you read my next post.

  • Gregorio Norco, CA
    May 12, 2014 1:26 p.m.

    Our faith history vacation experience in 1997, brought all 5 kids ages 17 to 9 on the Mormon History Trail. We hiked the slopes of Cumorah, we walked the shores of the Susquehanna River and listened and observed in the John Johnson home and the Carthage Jail and we cried knowing our pioneers left us a legacy of hope and faith for our pattern to live like them. Abraham left his Nauvoo (land of the Chaldeans), walked the wilderness to the promised land. Moses left his Nauvoo (land of Egypt)and walked the wilderness to the promised land. Lehi left his Nauvoo (City of Jerusalem), walked and sailed the wilderness to the promised land. The Mormon Pioneers left their Nauvoo the Beautiful and walked the wilderness to the promised land of Deseret. They named mountains Nebo and rivers the Jordan. Yes, we see a pattern here of sacrifice,and doing and becoming in all these experiences. United States Faith History vacations are worthy of the effort and time to experience in person.

  • Gator In Utah Daytona Beach, FL
    May 12, 2014 1:03 p.m.

    Don't forget the Johnson Farm in Hirum, about 45 minutes away from Kirtland. Take one of the state roads and there's actually some pleasant scenery in between.

  • Anita Sandy, UT
    May 12, 2014 12:57 p.m.

    We took our kids when they were 8-15 (baptized the youngest in the Susquehanna river during the trip), and it was the perfect age range. We flew to NY, saw Niagara and Palmyra, and drove from there to PA, OH, and ended in Nauvoo, flying out of Chicago. There is an article in the December 2013 Ensign, "The Articles of Faith and the Life of Joseph Smith" by John Welch which was an organizing principle we used at each stop (Welch is my uncle and was our trip guide). I put together booklets for my kids with their ancestral photos and stories to read on the way. Highly recommend this as a family priority!

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    May 12, 2014 12:17 p.m.

    I've done all these sites and it's a wonderful experience. My family did the whole Mormon Trail and it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I didn't realize I was going to cry all the way across the country.

    Also, Nauvoo has a records office that will tell you where in town your ancestors lived. It's a fantastic experience. Make sure you take your genealogical information with you.

    I highly recommend this trip to everyone. I agree it's a lot better than Disneyland.

  • InspectorC Wasatch Front, UT
    May 12, 2014 11:50 a.m.

    @ MomOf8 ----

    I'm curious: what was the age range of your children when you went on your trip?
    What would your opinion be of the "perfect" age range for a family contemplating such a trip?
    Did you take this trip by car, or how?
    How long did you take?
    Did you literally see "[ALL] of these sites" in one trip????!! (Far West, to Nauvoo, to Independence, to Kirtland, to New York, to Palmyra???) Wow!!


  • Mom of 8 Hyrum, UT
    May 12, 2014 9:23 a.m.

    We were able to take our children to all of these sites a few years ago. Marvelous, marvelous places, many with great activities for kids (especially Nauvoo). All of it is free, with loving, well-educated missionaries. We're saving up our pennies to do it again some year.

    Far better than a trip to Disneyland, and a lot cheaper, too. (And if you want the real pioneer experience, try camping!)