When people think of the experience of the Mormon pioneers, often the stories that come to mind are those of hunger, deprivation, and suffering. However, more often than not, the experience of the average traveler was quite different. There are many accounts of pioneers describing their journey as a great adventure as they saw new landscapes and wildlife. Other stories are lighthearted and full of hope and humor as they embarked toward a new life in the West with the people of Zion. For example, in this account, John Clark Dowdle tells the story of a young girl in his wagon train and her encounter with a fresh buffalo chip.
The Overland Travel Database project began more than 30 years ago as staff at the Church History Library began to explore ways to help people better understand the experience of their pioneer ancestors as they crossed the plains to the Great Basin.
Use this tutorial page to learn about the different search capabilities of the database, various features on the pages, and how you can help us better tell the story of your ancestors’ overland experience.
Learn about important points along the Mormon Trail through place descriptions, maps, and journal entries from pioneers who experienced the journey.
Explore three places that have been made sacred by the faith and determination of Mormon pioneers, the charity of their rescuers, and God’s watchful care for all of them.