Pioneer moments: `Pinned to the ground'

Marriner Wood Merrill was working alone in North Mill Creek Canyon east of Salt Lake City in January 1856 hauling five large logs for houses. During the month the temperature in the Salt Lake Valley, at times, dropped below zero.

Elder Merrill - who was ordained an apostle Oct 7, 1889 - later wrote in his autobiography that the place he was loading the logs onto his sled that day was extraordinarily slippery."After getting the first [log] loaded on the sled I turned around to load another one. The one I had on the sled slipped off like it was shot out of a gun and struck me in the hollow of the legs and threw me forward on my face across the four logs lying on the ground."

The fifth log - 10 inches wide and 22 feet long - landed across his legs. "I was pinned to the ground," he wrote.

"There I was with no visible means at hand to extricate myself as no one but myself was in the canyon that day. I made up my mind that I must freeze and die all alone in the mountains of Utah.

"In falling on the logs my breast and stomach were hurt and it was difficult for me to breathe. I concluded to ask the Lord to help me, which I did in earnest prayer. After calling upon the Lord for some time I began to make an effort to extricate myself, but all in vain. I continued my efforts until I was exhausted and lost all recollection of my situation."

The next thing the young pioneer remembered was waking up one mile down the canyon, sitting on a load of logs in the back of his sled, which his oxen were slowly pulling home.

"Then I remembered being under the log at the loading place some time previous. I suppose it to be about two hours," he wrote. "I looked at the load and found I had the five logs on the sled, nicely bound, my ax sticking on the top log, my whip lying on the load by my side. I made an effort to get off the load . . . but found I could not as I was so sore that I could hardly move at all.

"Who it was that extricated me from under the log, loaded my sled, hitched my oxen to it, and placed me on it, I cannot say." (Source: Marriner Wood Merrill Utah Pioneer and Apostle and His Family)

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