What to Expect When You Visit the Church’s Historic Sites in Missouri

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers several places to visit in Missouri. As you experience these places, you can gain a deeper understanding of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can learn about early efforts to establish Zion and about prophetic leadership, revelation, and the dedication of early members of the Church during times of adversity.

The Church’s four main sites in Missouri—the Independence Visitors’ Center, Historic Liberty Jail, Far West Temple Site, and Adam-ondi-Ahman—are within about 90 miles (145 kilometers) of each other and are open all year. Other places of interest are in the same general area.

All the sites are accessible to visitors with disabilities. Trained service animals are allowed at the Church’s historic sites in Missouri, including inside historic buildings. However, emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals and pets are not allowed. Please refer to the Church’s Service Animal Guidelines for more information.

Missionaries will guide your tours at two of the sites, and your visits at the other sites will be self-guided. You can prepare physically by wearing good walking shoes and, if you are visiting outdoor sites, by taking plenty of water to drink and applying sunscreen and insect repellent, depending on the time of year. To prepare for rich experiences at these sacred places, visit the website for the Church’s historic sites in Missouri.

Core Experience

1. Independence Visitors’ Center

The Independence Visitors’ Center is built on a portion of land that the Church once purchased to establish the center place of Zion (see D&C 57:1–3). Missionaries will guide your tour there. You will learn about the experiences of early Latter-day Saint settlers in Missouri and about Jesus Christ, families, latter-day prophets, and the Book of Mormon.

If you choose to experience all that the visitors’ center offers, plan to spend between 1 and 1½ hours there. If you do not have that much time, missionaries can adjust the tour to meet your needs.

For the location and schedule of the visitors’ center, click or tap here.

Across the street and to the northwest of the visitors’ center is a plot of land that was once dedicated for a temple in the center place of Zion. The land is now owned by the Church of Christ. For information on the temple lot, click or tap here.

2. Historic Liberty Jail

In the late 1830s, dissension within the Church and persecution from outside the Church frustrated the Saints’ efforts to establish Zion. For about four months during that time, the Prophet Joseph Smith was imprisoned in Liberty, Missouri, with his brother Hyrum and others. The Lord’s revelations to Joseph in Liberty Jail offered comfort and direction for the Prophet and for the entire Church—then and now.

Missionaries will guide your tour, which includes a reconstruction of the jail. Plan to spend between 30 minutes and 1 hour there. If you do not have that much time, missionaries can adjust the tour to meet your needs.

For the location and schedule of Historic Liberty Jail, click or tap here.

In August 1836, Latter-day Saints began to establish a stake of Zion in a place they called Far West. They were forced to abandon the place about two years later. After they left, members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a few others returned and dedicated a temple site there, in obedience to a commandment from the Lord (see D&C 115:11; 118:5).

Your experience at the site will be self-guided. Look for the four temple cornerstones within the fenced area. You will probably spend less than 30 minutes there.

The Far West Temple Site is northeast of Historic Liberty Jail, about a 45-minute drive away. It is always open, and it includes shaded picnic tables and public restrooms. For information about its location, click or tap here.

4. Adam-ondi-Ahman

A group of Saints settled briefly in the area in 1838. Spring Hill was named “Adam-ondi-Ahman” by the Prophet Joseph Smith, as indicated by the Lord in revelation (see D&C 116). Five weeks later, on June 28, 1838, the third stake of Zion was organized there. Today it is a place of beauty and quiet contemplation. Picnic tables and restrooms are available. For a map to the site, click or tap here.

Other Options in Missouri

1. Hawn’s Mill Site

In the late 1830s, Hawn’s Mill was a small community centered on a mill owned by Jacob Hawn. Latter-day Saints lived in the community, and some worked for Hawn, who was not a member of the Church. On October 30, 1838, a mob attacked the Latter-day Saints there, killing 14 men and 3 young boys and wounding 14 others.

Today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns the land where the attack occurred. It is a large, open field with trees and a stream on one side and farmland on the other. It is east of the Far West Temple Site, about a 35-minute drive away. During seasons of heavy rain, the site is often flooded and the roads are often impassable. For a map to the site, click or tap here.

2. Three Witnesses Monument and Pioneer Cemetery

In Richmond, Missouri, about a 35-minute drive east of Liberty, the Church maintains a small cemetery. The cemetery includes the grave of Oliver Cowdery, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon. The site features a monument commemorating the testimony of the Three Witnesses. The grave of David Whitmer, another of the Three Witnesses, is not far away, in the Richmond City Cemetery.

For a map to the site, click or here.

3. Eight Witnesses Monument

Another monument commemorates the testimony of the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon. It is located southwest of Liberty, about a 10-minute drive away. The graves of two of the Eight Witnesses—Christian Whitmer and Peter Whitmer Jr.—are at the site. The monument provides information about two events that occurred on this land: the discharging of Zion’s Camp and the calling of early Church leaders in Missouri.

For a map to the site, click or tap here.