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In US history, the Mormon Trail refers to the route taken by the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (more commonly known as Mormons) from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake in what is now known as the state of Utah. Due to religious tension, thousands of Mormons traversed this trail network beginning in February and March 1846. It played a big part in terms of Mormon migration.
See the fact file below for more information on the Mormon Trail or alternatively, you can download our 20-page The Mormon Trail worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- During 1846 to 1869, the Mormons were in deep conflict with the Gentiles and the general public.
- In fact, in 1844, Mormon leader Joseph Smith was killed by a mob, which caused fear to other church members, who soon realized that their settlement in Nauvoo, Illinois, was no longer safe for them.
- In 1857, a violent uprising by the Mormons also took place, known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre. It resulted in around 5,000 soldiers being sent to Utah under the command of General Albert Sidney Johnston to subjugate them.
- Travelers at the time were watchful of the Mormons, just as they were of the Indians. Many attacks and robberies were carried out by these mountain travelers under the guise of Indians.
DESCRIPTION OF THE TRAIL
- The Mormon Trail stretched for about 1,300 miles (2,100 kilometers). It encompassed parts of five states, including Illinois, along the Missouri River in Iowa, across the northern bank of the Platte River in Nebraska to Fort Laramie, into what is now called the state of Wyoming, and then to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake in what is now Salt Lake City, Utah.
- It also broke south along the western part of the Continental Divide and crisscrossed along other trails, such as the Oregon Trail or the California Trail, which other travellers preferred.
- The land ownership along the Mormon Trail is made up of private land (822 miles or 64%), land under federal management (264 miles or 20%), and land under state and local ownership (214 miles or 16%).
TRAVELING THROUGH THE TRAIL
- From 1846 to 1869, around 70,000 Mormon people traveled westward along the trail due to religious tension.
- The Mormons traversing this trail route generally used wagons as a means to transport their essential goods and other needs. On the other hand, the poor Mormon travelers, which consisted of around 3,000 people, used hand carts for the same purpose, pulling and pushing them through long miles of rough terrain.
- On February 4, 1846, the first wagons left Nauvoo and passed across the Mississippi River, and then through the Nebraska Territory with the permission of the Omaha Indians, where some of them established winter quarters.
- Eventually known as the first pioneers of the Mormon Trail, these travelers managed to reach the Garden Grove by April 24, 1846. It was the halfway point across the state of Iowa, and they made temporary camps that also sheltered later immigrants.
- On June 14, 1846, Brigham Young, the successor of murdered Mormon church leader Joseph Smith, who likewise proposed the 1,300-mile exodus to the west, arrived on the banks of the Missouri River.
- Following this, the first group, together with Young, left the winter quarters and headed west on April 5, 1847.
- In that same year, more than 2,000 Mormon people from other states followed.
- The first Mormon Trail pioneers included 143 men, three women, two young boys, 72 wagons, 93 horses, 66 oxen, 52 mules, 19 cows, 17 dogs, and a number of chickens.
- The most difficult part of the trek through the Mormon Trail is said to be the final 116 miles from Fort Bridger to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. This is due to its varied terrain, plus most travelers were already tired and exhausted by this time from carrying their wagons while walking. This section alone can take about 14 days to traverse.
- On July 22, 1847, the first sighting of the valley took place.
- Furthermore, the Mormon migration included entire families and clans in large areas. The journey through the trail route also took longer because of the elderly people and young children. For some families, it took 100 days just to traverse around 1,000 miles of distance.
- Meanwhile, along the California Trail and Oregon Trail, Mormon travelers could cover around 15 miles per day.
- An estimate of 43,000 Mormon people successfully reached the Valley of the Great Salt Lake in Utah using the trail network over the span of a few decades.
- Most of them traveled further to California and made a living during the Gold Rush. Many more lived in Utah. Other travelers stopped during their journey or headed to other areas, including Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, and Arizona.
LEGACY OF THE TRAIL
- The Mormon Trail is now considered a national historic trail by the US National Park Service.
- On November 18, 1978, the trail route was established by Congress as a part of the National Trail System.
The Mormon Trail Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Mormon Trail across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use The Mormon Trail worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Mormon Trail which refers to the route taken by the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (more commonly known as Mormons) from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake in what is now known as the state of Utah. Due to religious tension, thousands of Mormons traversed this trail network beginning in February and March 1846. It played a big part in terms of Mormon migration.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- The Mormon Trail Facts
- Mapping Out the Trail
- Find the Words
- Cause and Consequences
- Notable Pioneer
- The Rocky Mountains
- Challenges Encountered
- The Legacy of the Mormon Trail
- Then and Now
- The Emigrant Trail
- In a Nutshell
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.