The trail from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Valley was approximately 1,300 miles long and would ultimately lead 70,000 pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the West. Take the journey with them. Stop along the trail and read their own accounts of what happened.
Thousands of immigrants from England and Wales who joined the Church and the trek west took on a new form of transportation to Salt Lake City. They couldn't afford wagons after leaving their homeland, so they pulled handcarts. The human-powered handcarts, which were envisioned by Brigham Young, proved to be one of the most brilliant—and tragic—experiments in all western migration.
When Captain James Allen of the U.S. Army rode into the makeshift refugee camp at Mount Pisgah (near present-day Thayer, Iowa) on 26 June 1846, he was met with something less than enthusiasm. Perhaps 15,000 men, women and children, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were filtering through this encampment, driven from their homes and farms in or around Nauvoo, Illinois by a citizenry that had turned vicious and a government—right to the top1 —that had turned the other way.
"Brigham Young was a kingdom builder with dreams as grandiose as Sam Houston or John C. Fremont," wrote historian Leonard J. Arrington. "[But] unlike them, he was successful. . . . Brigham Young was the supreme American paradox . . . the business genius of a Rockefeller with the spiritual sensitivities of an Emerson. . . . He was not merely an entrepreneur with a shared vision of America as the Promised Land; he was a prophet . . . and he built beyond himself" (Brigham Young: American Moses , xiii).
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