The Mormon Pioneer Trail
West to Zion
The Mormon migration from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Valley of the
Great Salt Lake, in the mid 1840s, was a movement of an entire
people, an entire religion, and an entire culture driven by religious
fervor and determination. More orderly and efficient than many
emigrants traveling to Oregon and California, they traveled in semi-
military fashion, grouped into companies of 100s, 50s, and 10s.
Discipline, hard work, mutual assistance, and devotional practices
were part of their daily routine on the trail.
Knowing that others would follow, they improved the trail and
built support facilities. Businesses, such as ferries, were
established to help financ the movement. The story of the
Mormon Pioneer Trail is the story of the best organized mass
migration in American history.
Pratt's Pass Camp
Here, at the mouth of Main Canyon, on Thursday, July 15, 1847,
Orson Pratt found what he was seeking. "Mr. Reid's Route," as
he called it, was visible only as faint traces left by the wagons
of the Donner-Reed party, who had pionered this route on
their way to California in August of 1846. Pratt's advance party
of Mormon Pioneers became the first of thousands of travelers
to use this campsite on their way to the Valley of the Great Salt
Lake. Thereafter, Mormons referred to this portion of the trail,
from present-day Henefer to the mouth of Emigration Canyon,
as "Pratt's Pass."
"We soon struck the trail, although so dimly
seen that it only was now and then could be
discerned, only a few wagons having passed
here one year ago, and the grass having grown
up, leaving scarcely a trace."