Mormons celebrate their pioneer heritage

by | Jul. 23, 2009

Official Church Info

Each year on 24 July, Mormons all around the world commemorate the arrival of the first company of Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 with parades, concerts and other festivities. The festivities honor the sacrifice of tens of thousands of pioneers and are a reminder to Mormons of their faith.

More than 160 years ago, several hundred Mormons began a migration of over a thousand miles to reach the valley of the Great Salt Lake. The first company of pioneers was led by Church President Brigham Young. There were hardships along the way, violent weather, trails forged through hostile terrain, personal sacrifice and many deaths.

The 19th-century Mormon migration beginning in 1846 in Illinois, then through Iowa and Nebraska and eventually to a place of refuge in the Rocky Mountains, was one of the most remarkable episodes in the history of the United States’ great western migration. Unlike the thousands of migrants streaming west to California and Oregon looking for a better life, the Mormon pioneers migrated involuntary — the result of expulsion from Illinois and Missouri by hostile neighbors. Later, the Mormon pioneer trail would be filled with converts coming from Europe.

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