Trails group plans to rebuild Church's 1847 log tabernacle

A group plans to rebuild the Mormon tabernacle where Brigham Young was named president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1847.

The newly organized Pottawattamie County Mormon Trails Association must match a $25,000 grant from the Block Family Trust to rebuild the historic Kanesville Tabernacle, built in December 1847.The original building, which was north of what is now Council Bluff's First Avenue near Indian Creek, was large enough to seat 1,000 people. It was destroyed because it was built on top of a natural spring.

The tabernacle would be rebuilt on a different site not yet selected.

Glen Leonard, director of the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City, praised the project as both historically and religiously significant.

"It is important because it was the place where Brigham Young became the second president of the Church, and because of the Latter-day Saints' contribution to settling western Iowa," he said.

Council Bluffs, then called Kanesville, was where the Mormon, Pioneer and Oregon trails converged at the Missouri River and was a major stopping point for settlers headed west.

"Kanesville was one of the most important of the (Mormon settlements)," Leonard said. "It was an active Mormon village from 1846 to 1852. A number of these little camps became permanent towns in western Iowa. So the Mormons were, in a sense, some of the first settlers in those areas."

If the Trails Association raises the required matching funds, the tabernacle could be rebuilt by 1996, the 150th anniversary of the Mormons' trek from Illinois to Council Bluffs.

After being forced from their homes in Nauvoo, Ill., more than 26,000 Mormons migrated westward during the late 1840s, followed by a stream of other Mormons headed west.

The Block Family Trust, which is not affiliated with the Mormon Church, provides grants for educational projects around the world.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed