Pioneer faith: Never forget the price paid, Pres. Hinckley tells 10,000

Speaking outside the restored fort his grandfather built in 1867, President Gordon B. Hinckley told more than 10,000 Church members June 24 that the landmark stands as a reminder of the pioneers' great faith.

"Everyone of us ought to be thankful for those who preceded us to make it possible for us to live so comfortably in our time," the prophet said during a family home evening fireside held for members of Utah's Centennial Wagon Train. Thousands of Church members gathered with participants of the 75-wagon procession - which traveled 19 miles along dusty roads that day as part of Utah's 1996 state centennial celebration - to hear the prophet.Hoisting U.S. flags, more than 300 Boy Scouts from the Lindon Utah Stake welcomed the wagon train to the historic fort. President Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie, joined the procession just outside the Church-owned site, leading the mile-long wagon train as they rode in the back of a buggy.

The Centennial Wagon Train left Logan, Utah, June 4, crossing the state pioneer-style in horse-drawn wagons. While participants were moving across Utah at a snails pace, President Hinckley was visiting the Saints in 17 countries on two continents, dedicating the Hong Kong Temple and breaking ground for another temple in Spain.

"We are just back from a long journey," President Hinckley told the largest crowd to ever assemble at Cove Fort. "We are a little tired and we are all out of sync concerning our sleep, but we have had marvelous experiences."

President Hinckley said as he flew home from his trip, he pictured in his mind the pioneers, who traveled about 15 miles a day in the heat and dust, forded rivers and contended with rattlesnakes.

"I don't know of anything else that compares with the coming of our people to the valleys and the mountains," he said. "The boldness of bringing thousands of people to this mountain country when they had never seen it, except in vision, was an act of tremendous courage."

He talked about the Church members living in the Salt Lake Valley in 1849, when gold was discovered in California. People all over the world flocked to California, he said, adding that some Church members who were living in the "harsh Salt Lake Valley" also wanted to go.

"It was at this time of gloom that President Young stood before the people and said, `Now mark these words, some have asked me about going

to the gold rushT. I have told them that God has appointed this place for the gathering of His Saints, and you will be better right here than you will by going to the gold mines. . . . We shall build a city and a temple to the most high God in this place. We will extend our settlements to the east and west, to the north and south, and will build towns and cities by the hundreds. And thousands of the Saints will gather here from the nations of the earth.' "

President Hinckley said as he drove to Cove Fort he thought of the early Saints - including his grandfather - who settled Utah.

In 1867, Brigham Young sent President Hinckley's grandfather, Ira N. Hinckley, to build a fort at Cove Creek on the road from Salt Lake City to southern Utah. He was told to protect the telegraph and mail stations at Cove Creek and to offer food, rest and protection from bad weather to travelers through the area.

The prophet said his grandfather traveled with Brigham Young to the new settlement. "I have wondered many times how he must have felt. Brigham Young moved on and left him here. And here he was, with a little group with him in this lonely place. . . . He was to build a fort here. I marvel at what happened."

By fall the fort - where President Hinckley's father spent the first 10 years of his life - was ready for occupancy.

"I brought my children down here years ago and we sat in the fort and my father told my children how things were in those days," President Hinckley said, adding that his father talked about using a spy glass to watch for stage coaches and seeing them come thundering to the outpost. "It was a very exciting place for a little boy."

President Hinckley said he carries in his heart a great love for all the Mormon pioneers, such as his grandfather, who, before settling Cove Fort, buried his young wife in a handmade coffin along the pioneer trail.

"He took up his infant child in his arms and came on to the Salt Lake Valley. He married again. He married three times, came here and built this fort."

He also told the story of a 9-year-old girl, who died while crossing the plains by handcart to join her sister in Utah.

"This little 9-year-old girl went out to gather sage brush with which to make a fire. She gathered a bundle of sage brush in her arms. When she came back to her handcart she put her hands on the wheel of the cart and the next morning they found her body frozen in that position," he said. "She never made it to the Salt Lake Valley. She was one of the 6,000 who set out for the valley and never made it. What a price has been paid for that which we enjoy."

President Hinckley noted that he drove 65 mph from Salt Lake City to Cove Fort. The Centennial Wagon Train, he continued, traveled 22 miles total the day before on roads that were marked and smooth - nothing like the pioneers faced.

"How much I want to live worthy of the inheritance that has been handed to us without cost or price of any kind," he concluded. "Let us never forget the cost of our faith."

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