Pioneers (25)

“It is good to look to the past to gain appreciation for the present and perspective for the future. It is good to look upon the virtues of those who have gone before to gain strength for whatever lies ahead. It is good to reflect upon the work of those who labored so hard and gained so little in this world, but out of whose dreams and early plans so well nurtured has come a great harvest of which we are the beneficiaries. Their tremendous example can become a compelling motivation for each of us, for each of us is a pioneer in his own life, often in his own family, and many of us pioneer daily in seeking to do God’s will and lift and serve those around us.”

~ Gordon B. Hinckley

The Pioneers were dedicated to the Lord. Many of them were the same age as you. Some made it to the Salt Lake Valley; others did not. During our Trek, there will be many opportunities to reflect upon their experience. The more you learn about their experiences the more meaningful will be your experience on Trek. Below are some resources to help you become acquainted with their story.

Basic Handcart Company Information



Mary Rock

 Web site links:

Selected Handcart Stories for Youth Treks –

LDS Newsroom – Pioneer Trek

The Trek West –

The National Park Service – Mormon Pioneer

Trails of Hope: Overland Diaries and Letters, 1846–1869


Walking in Obedience: The Ole Madsen Story of 1856

Legacy: Video shown at Joseph Smith Memorial Building for several years. Church Distribution Center. Below is the full movie.

Faith in Every Footstep: Church Distribution Center.

17 Miracles: Based on actual events, and brought to you by filmmaker T.C. Christensen, 2011. Below is a 13 minute selection from the movie.

Ephraim’s Rescue: The story of the rescue by Ephraim Hanks or the Martin Handcart Company, by T.C. Christensen, 2013

The Robert McBride Family Story – The following video was produced by the Church to be shown exclusively at the Martin’s Cove Visitor’s Center.



Many books are available for purchase about early church history and the migration to Utah, including the following:

  1. The Price We Paid: The Extraordinary Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Pioneers, Andrew D. Olson, 2006, Deseret Book Co. It includes the details of the events that transpired in separate sections for the two companies. Also includes significant journal entries, and follow-up research about the lives of many of those who survived. One of the most informative and authoritative books to date.
  2. The Sweetwater Rescue: The Martin and Willie Handcart Story, Heidi S. Swinton and Lee Groberg, 2006, Covenant Communications, American Fork, UT. Story of the handcart companies, and also includes a host of new artwork relating to the handcart experience; also has a companion DVD.
  3. The Mormon Trail: Yesterday and Today, William Hill. 1996, Utah State University Press, Logan, UT. It includes an historical introduction, a chronology, excerpts from trail diaries, along with maps, over 200 then-and-now photos, and descriptions of major museums and displays along the trail.
  4. Handcarts to Zion: The Story of a Unique Western Migration, 1856-1860. LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen. 1992. Bison Books. It draws on diaries and reports of the participants, rosters of the ten companies, and a collection of the songs sung on the trail and at “The Gathering.”
  5. Trail of Hope: The Story of the Mormon Trail, Slaughter and Landon. 1997, Shadow Mountain, Salt lake City, UT. Also has an accompanying Video/DVD. It gives an overview of Church history.
  6. Their Faces Toward Zion: Voices and Images of the Trek West, Richard Holzaphel. 1996, Bookcraft, Salt Lake city, UT. Overview of Church History and a number of pictures related
  7. 111 Days to Zion: The Day-By-Day Trek of the Mormon Pioneers, Hal Knight and Dr. Stanley B. Kimball, 1997, Big Moon Traders. Salt Lake City, UT. The story of the Vanguard Company, the first group with Brigham Young to travel west to locate and settle the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.
  8. Tell My Story Too: Jolene Allphin, Tell My Story Publishing, 1776 Ridge Rd. Layton, UT 84040. Contains a collection of stories of the members of the Willie and Martin Companies, the Hunt and Hodgett Wagon Companies, and the Rescuers.
  9. Fire of the Covenant: Gerald Lund, 1999, Bookcraft Publishing Co. (Now owned by Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, UT. A novel of historical fiction about the Martin and Willie Handcart Companies.