used many trails in crossing the Plains and through the Rockies to their
haven by the inland salty sea. The States of Iowa, Missouri,
were gutted and rutted with many different trails of wheel-marks made by
their caravans when the first settlers came to present-day Utah.
While several well-defined and traveled trails were in existence leading
from the Missouri
River through the mountains, the Mormons
seemed inclined to make use of different routes that would parallel or
intercept the regular trails. Perhaps this was caused largely by the state
of feeling that existed between them and the general public.
histories of the Mormons
during these times say that there existed deep hatred, coupled with
fear, between them and the Gentiles, that eventually led up to an
armed insurrection by the Mormons
in 1857, following the "Mountain
Meadows Massacre," which caused the
sending of 5,000 soldiers under General Albert Sidney Johnston to Utah
in 1857-58, to quell and subjugate them.
travelers of the trails were inclined to be just as watchful of the
as they were of the Indians,
and perhaps rightly too, for records show that many depredations were
committed by them under the guise of Indians.
Notwithstanding all the present evidence to the contrary, it is the
belief of the author that subsequent investigation will prove that the
traveled in greater numbers south of the Platte River than on the
north side. Some 15,000 Mormons
wintered at Florence and Council Bluffs the first year of their migration from Nauvoo, Illinois and thousands of them annually
traveled across Iowa through these portals over the northern trail up
the north valley of the Platte River to their destination.
converts from England came mainly by two routes to St. Louis
where they took up their overland journey by wagon to
Embarking at the different seaports of England, they took passage on
ships that sailed for ports that had rail or steamboat connections to
the eastern terminus of some trail that led to their promised land.
had railroads long before Omaha or Council Bluffs, and they could
proceed by steamboat from this point up to Independence
by a regular and well-established services. However, proceeding to
points on up the river, presented many difficulties. At this time
was the greatest outfitting point on the
Missouri River, so it was naturally the best point for the
to launch forth. Later on, the railroads reached St. Joseph,
These in turn became the ends of the railroad journey for the Mormon
pilgrims from England. Thus, by the way of New Orleans up the
Missouri Rivers by boat to
and St. Joseph,
and by train from New York to these points, thousands of
annually arrived and departed overland westward after 1846. To this,
was added the great migration of Missouri Mormons.
groups of Mormons
were the ones that cut the many trails across the plains, while the Mormons
of the late 1860's seemed content to use the regular trails. It is
difficult to determine what trail or route was the real Mormon Trail
across the plains, as they used so many branches and different routes
as far out as the mountains, where most of them converged into the
Quite a few of them continued down the Santa Fe
Trail, finally pointing to the north in
Even all of those who went by the way of Omaha did not follow the old California
Trail up the north side of the Platte River. Many
thousands of them kept to the north of the Elkhorn or Loups Rivers,
and finally converged into the Oregon Trail
somewhere in Wyoming,
and many of them went up on the south banks of the Platte River,
striking the Oregon Trail
near Fort Kearny.