Latter-day Saint Life

25 years ago Latter-day Saints were still walking across the plains—but only for a trek reenactment

Mormon Trek Reenactment
The wagon train makes its way through the fog on the first week of the trek during the Latter-day Saint pioneer trek reenactment in Nebraska in 1997. The group traveled from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake City over a three-month period, tracing the pioneer trail.
/Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

On July 22, 1997, the Latter-day Saint pioneer trek reenactment reached its culmination at This Is the Place State Park near the mouth of Emigration Canyon in Salt Lake City. The reenactment was one of several events honoring the 150th anniversary of the pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley.

An estimated 50,000 people greeted the 61 wagons, nine handcarts, 45 horseback riders and 380 walkers, according to a 1997 Ensign article. The sesquicentennial wagon train traveled from the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery at Winter Quarters near Omaha, Nebraska, to Salt Lake City over a three-month period, tracing the pioneer trail.

“You have done something really extraordinary,” Church President Gordon B. Hinckley told the trekkers. “You have caught the imagination of all of us. … You have brought to the attention of millions upon millions of people across the world the story of the unparalleled migration of our people from Nauvoo, and from Liverpool and beyond, to this valley in the mountains.”

Nearly 10,000 people participated — some for only a few hours, days or weeks, and others for the entire 93-day journey of more than 1,000 miles.

President M. Russell Ballard will never forget sitting beside President Hinckley and other members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the This Is The Place Monument, watching as handcarts and wagons entered the valley that July day.

You can read the full story about this historic trek reenactment and President Ballard’s recollections about that special event on Church News.

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