The Mormon Trail

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From 1846-1847, a great migration of Mormons moved West.  The Mormons are a religious group that moved west looking for religious freedom and growth (they are known now as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  

Brigham Young led a small group of Mormons westward to what is now Utah in 1847.  After he blazed the trail, more than 2,000 more emigrants followed in their foot steps in that first year!  This route is now referred to as the Mormon Trial (though there were other branches and routes added...some travelers crisscrossed other existing trails like the Oregon and California Trail) and it followed the northern bank of the Platte River across Nebraska to Fort Laramie in Wyoming, then onward to the Salt Lake Valley.  The trail was a total of 1,300 miles long.
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Young's trip was supposed to only take one year, but it was a hard journey and they had to abandoned their original schedule and split the journey in two sections:  Nauvoo to Omaha in 1846 (265 miles) and ten Omaha to Salt Lake Valley in 1847.

Most of the travelers used wagons to transport their possessions but some of the poorer families used handcarts...pushing and pulling them across hundreds of miles!  Most of the emigrants traveled with their families, so many had elderly people or young children which made the journey take longer.  It took some families 100 days to cover 1,000 miles whereas on the California and Oregon Trail, travelers covered about 15 miles a day.
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In just a few decades, more that 43,000 Mormons made the journey to Salt Lake Valley on the Mormon Trail.  Many of these people continued to California and became a part of the Gold Rush, with others staying in Utah and settling there.


 

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