As the American West began to be settled in the mid 1800s, 60,000 emigrants seeking religious freedom crossed the great plains and the Rocky Mountains to settle in mountain valleys near The Great Salt Lake in present-day Utah. This remote land was deemed incapable of sustaining any large population of settlers by early explorers such as Jim Bridger. Those emigrants were not gold seekers, or opportunists, or frontiersmen, but they were primarily families; many were from eastern or European cities unfamiliar with the rugged conditions of frontier life. They all had experienced religious persecution, and had faith to build better lives. They travelled in well-organized companies, and were resolute to build a better society that they called “Zion”, despite any obstacle that they would confront. The stories of their emigration are well-preserved in their journals. All who travelled the Mormon Pioneer Trail were changed from their experience.
The Mormon Pioneer Trail started on the eastern banks of the Mississippi River in Nauvoo, Illinois. Converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had built this lovely city from swamplands in 1840. Religious persecution forced them to leave in 1846. When I first learned of their migration I lived only a few few hundred miles from Nauvoo. I was familiar with the climate and geography of that area, but I knew little of the destination of their exodus, nor of the one thousand miles across plains and mountains between Nauvoo and valleys around the Great Salt Lake. I read the pioneer stories and journals. In time, I was driven to retrace their footsteps. Over the few years of my exploration, I came to consider the Mormon Pioneer Trail as physical evidence of a spiritual journey to “Zion” of those early pioneers. The collection of photographs that I recorded of the trail remind me of the stamina, perseverance, determination, brotherhood, camaraderie, and faith of those Mormon Pioneers.
The Mormon Pioneer Trail photographs are available for sale. These Panoramic Images are printed with archival inks on museum-quality canvas and wrapped around a 1.5" Stretcher Frame, which is then signed by the photographer.