Wyoming Historic Sites
Martin’s Cove: Mormon Trail Site
Martin’s Cove is a historic site along the Mormon Trail located about 55 miles (89 kilometers) southwest of Casper, Wyoming. Adjacent to the Sweetwater River, Martin’s Cove is a nook in the side of the Granite Mountains that provided shelter for the Martin handcart company and their rescuers in the fall of 1856. The site includes a visitors’ center with artwork, artifacts, and exhibits about the larger Latter-day Saint migration and history of the site. Throughout the historic site, monuments, memorials, and sculptures commemorate the rescue. A trail loop leads to the eastern portion of the cove. Visitors may also hike a trail that leads to Devil’s Gate and explore the Sun Ranch at Devil’s Gate, a National Historic Landmark interpreting the homestead and cattle ranch that began on the site in 1872. For information about planning a visit to Martin’s Cove, click or tap here. From November 4 to 9, 1856, the Martin handcart company, about 500 Latter-day Saint emigrants from the British Isles, made camp in the cove because the cold wind and snow made it too dangerous to proceed to their destination in Salt Lake City about 330 miles (530 kilometers) away. A few days prior to their arrival at the cove, they were met by a small rescue party with food, supplies, and wagons that President Brigham Young had sent from Salt Lake City. On November 4, the company and rescuers forded the bitterly cold Sweetwater River and set up their tents in the place that would later be called Martin’s Cove. Over the next five days, the company waited for additional wagons to transport the sick and infirm. Members of the Hunt and Hodgetts wagon companies, traveling just behind the Martin company, emptied their wagons of provisions to make space for more people. Many handcarts were left behind, and the travelers in the worst condition rode in wagons. By November 9, preparations were made, and the weather had warmed enough for travel to continue. The survivors reached Salt Lake City on November 30, where they received donated provisions from local Relief Society organizations and were placed in warm homes. A number of the company died in Martin’s Cove but many more were rescued. Today people visit the cove as a place of reverence, remembrance, and gratitude. During summer months, Latter-day Saints participate in trek reenactments. For information about organizing a trek for a family or Church group at this historic site, click or tap here.
Sixth Crossing: Mormon Trail Site
Sixth Crossing is a historic site along the Mormon Trail located about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Lander, Wyoming. It is the place where the Willie handcart company, comprised of about 400 Latter-day Saint emigrants from the British Isles, encountered the first rescue wagons from George D. Grant’s relief party on October 21, 1856. Westbound pioneers along the Oregon-Mormon-California Trail reached the Sweetwater River at this location, a popular spot to refresh after about 16 miles (26 kilometers) with limited water, and crossed it for the sixth time. They would cross the Sweetwater three more times along the trail. Today people visit the crossing as a place of reverence, remembrance, and gratitude. The Sixth Crossing area features a visitors’ center, 3 miles (5 kilometers) northeast of the river crossing, that recounts the journey and eventual rescue of the Willie company. For information about planning a visit to Sixth Crossing, click or tap here. On October 19, 1856, a severe snowstorm hit the plains of Wyoming. Despite these harsh conditions, the Willie handcart company continued to push and pull toward their sixth crossing of the frigid Sweetwater River. Two days later, the company encountered relief wagons sent from Salt Lake City, providing them with desperately needed food, clothing, and wagons. In their haggard condition, the suffering Willie company rejoiced and thanked God. But even amidst the rescue relief, a number of the company died at Sixth Crossing. The rescuers helped the survivors travel the remaining 270 miles (435 kilometers) to their destination in Salt Lake City, including the grueling Rocky Ridge to Rock Creek Hollow and the South Pass on the Continental Divide. Arriving by November 9, the surviving company members received donated provisions from local Relief Society organizations and were placed in warm homes. Today, Latter-day Saints participate in trek reenactments during summer months to remember the faith of the handcart pioneers and their rescuers. For information about organizing a trek for a family or Church group at this historic site, click or tap here.
Pioneer Journeys—More Than a Trek
Latter Day Saints often go to great lengths to honor Mormon Pioneers. Their appreciation deepens when they come to understand why the pioneers did what they did.
Rock Creek Hollow: Mormon Trail Site
Rock Creek Hollow is a historic site along the Mormon Trail located about 38 miles (61 kilometers) south of Lander, Wyoming. In the 1850s, it was a well-used campsite west of Rocky Ridge, a challenging segment of the Oregon-Mormon-California Trail that climbs 600 feet (180 meters) over a distance of about 3 miles (5 kilometers). Rock Creek Hollow now features a memorial honoring the Willie handcart company’s faith and sacrifice. It does not include a visitors’ center. During the summer months, missionaries greet visitors at Rock Creek Hollow and share stories related to the Willie handcart company’s crossing of Rocky Ridge. For information about planning a visit to Rock Creek Hollow, click or tap here. Also during the summer season, Latter-day Saints participate in trek reenactments at this site. For information about organizing a trek for a family or Church group at this historic site, click or tap here. On October 23, 1856, two days after a harrowing experience at Sixth Crossing on the Sweetwater River, the Willie handcart company climbed Rocky Ridge during a severe snowstorm. In blizzard conditions, some company members walked parts of the trail multiple times as they helped their families and company members reach camp. There are a number of pioneer graves at Rock Creek Hollow, and some of them might belong to members of the Willie handcart company. The company buried 15 members before leaving their camp on October 25. Rescue parties helped the survivors travel the remaining 266 miles (428 kilometers) through South Pass on the Continental Divide to their destination in Salt Lake City. Arriving by November 9, they received donated provisions from local Relief Society organizations and were placed in warm homes.
What to Expect When You Visit the Church’s Historic Sites in Wyoming
Trekking at the Mormon Handcart Historic Sites
The Mormon Handcart Historic Sites provide a unique, dedicated setting for visitors and trekkers to come unto Christ.