The Road to Zion
From the late 1840s through the 1860s, an exodus
of more than 70,000 Mormons passed by here on
their way to their "New Zion" in Utah. Starting
from Nauvoo, Illinois in February 1846, the first
group of at least 13,000 Mormons crossed into
Iowa to escape religious persecution, then spent
the next winter in the area of present-day Council
Bluffs, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska.
In 1847, Brigham Young led an advance party of
143 men, 2 women, and 3 children along the Platte
River. At Fort Bridger, Wyoming they departed
from the Oregon Trail to head southwest to the
Great Salt Lake. Thousands of other Mormons
soon followed. Today, a marked 1,624-mile auto
tour route closely parallels their historic trek.
Many Mormon emigrants wrote
diaries to describe their
experiences. Appleton Harmon
wrote his journal (right) in 1847.
After arriving, the Mormon
pioneers set up communities and
ferry crossings along the trail to
assist later wagon trains going
to and from Utah (below).
From 1856-60, many European
converts walked more than 1,200
miles to Salt Lake City pushing
and pulling handcarts (right)
loaded with 500 pounds of
supplies. After 1860, the Mormon
church sponsored oxen-drawn
wagons to bring emigrants to
the "New Zion."