Trail spawned towns along the way

Nauvoo, Kanesville, Winter Quarters, Salt Lake City - these are the places associated in the public mind with the Mormon Trail.

But the Latter-day Saint pioneer epoch is much more complex and dramatic than is generally understood. It was played out in numerous locations between Illinois and Utah, over more than two decades.Even the trek of 1846-47 has been oversimplified in the public imagination. As historian William G. Hartley has pointed out, the Saints left Nauvoo at various times, with far more, some 10,000, departing in the spring than the 3,000 or so who left with Brigham Young in the winter. (See The Iowa Mormon Trail, Legacy of Faith and Courage, edited by Susan Easton Black and William G. Hartley, p. 61.) Many left sporadically in small groups of families, who made their way as best they could.

According to Brother Hartley, BYU associate professor of history, some 70 small settlements of 1840s pioneers have been identified across Iowa. (From a lecture given at the Sons of Utah Pioneers Church History Symposium, Nov. 11, 1995.)

A few Latter-day Saint wayside points along the trail have been remembered through the years. Here are close-up views of three such locations. One is a thriving town today, another is identified by the presence of a Church-constructed monument marking a cemetery, and the third no longer exists.

Garden Grove, Iowa. Located today 21 miles northwest of Corydon via Highways 2 and 204, Garden Grove was founded by the Pioneers April 25, 1846. Within two weeks, 359 men under the leadership of President Brigham Young cleared 300 acres of land, planted crops, built log houses and cut 10,000 surplus rails for fencing and enough logs for 40 additional houses. Garden Grove became a stopover for many immigrants who followed later.

A marker recounting the origins of the town is located in a three-acre trailside historic park in Garden Grove, maintained by the Decatur County Conservation Board.

Residents today are proud of their town's identification with the pioneers. In the center of town is Mormon Trail Junior-Senior High School. Its athletic teams are known as the Mormon Trail Saints.

Mt. Pisgah, Iowa. A cemetery with a monument erected by the Church in 1888 marks this 1846 settlement, which today is mostly on private farmland. The marker honors the memory of Church members "who died in 1846, 1847 and 1848, during their exodus to seek a home beyond the Rocky Mountains." Sixty-four names of those who died at Mt. Pisgah are listed on the monument.

A marker placed at Mt. Pisgah by the state of Iowa recounts that it was named after a Biblical mountain range and established as a way station, with thousands of acres cleared, buildings erected, caves dug and log cabins constructed. It functioned as such until 1852.

The site today is maintained by the Union County Conservation Board.

Wyoming, Neb. Located six miles north of present-day Nebraska City, on Highway 75, Wyoming was a Missouri River port founded in 1855 that served Latter-day Saint emigrating companies from 1864 to 1866. An estimated 6,500 Danish, Swiss, German, Dutch, French, Norwegian, Swedish and English converts in 22 companies left the river port bound for the Salt Lake Valley, following the cutoff from Nebraska City on the Missouri River to Fort Kearny on the Platte River.

Latter-day Saints built a few buildings in Wyoming, but nothing of the town is left except an unmarked graveyard about a mile north of the old town center. Perhaps as many as 100 persons are buried there, including some Church members.

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