In response to COVID-19, the Historic Sites will be closed to the public until further notice. Please see the pages for the individual sites below.
Sacred Grove: Palmyra and Manchester, New York
The Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York, is the site where Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, visited young Joseph Smith in 1820. That visit, often called the First Vision, was the founding event of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Sacred Grove was part of the farmland originally owned by the Smith family, and today it is a healthy and peaceful forest that is open to the public year-round. Winding paths provide many places for visitors to contemplate the event that occurred here. For information about visiting the Sacred Grove and Joseph Smith’s boyhood home, click or tap here. On a spring day in 1820, 14-year-old Joseph Smith went alone to this grove of trees and prayed. He was confused about the claims of different religions in the area, and he wanted to know which church he should join. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ came in answer to his prayer. Their answer changed his life, and it continues to change the lives of millions of people throughout the world. To learn more about the events that brought Joseph Smith to pray in the Sacred Grove, click or tap here.
Joseph Smith Family Farm: Palmyra and Manchester, New York
The Smith Family Farm, in Palmyra and Manchester, New York, is open to the public year-round. This historic site is located on the 100 acres of land cultivated by the Smith family in the 1820s. Tours and markers on the site tell about Joseph Smith’s First Vision and his first visits with the angel Moroni. They also describe the Smith family’s life on the farm. Tours of the farm include a reconstruction of Joseph Smith’s boyhood home, a restoration of a larger home the family later built, and the stand of trees now known as the Sacred Grove. For information about visiting the Smith Family Farm, click or tap here. Several founding events for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took place on the Smith Family Farm. Here God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ visited the 14-year-old Joseph Smith—an experience now called The First Vision. On September 21, 1823, the angel Moroni first visited Joseph Smith in the family’s small log home. Four years later, Joseph and his wife, Emma, lived in the larger Smith family home with his family when he received the golden plates on the Hill Cumorah. Eight individuals, now known as the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, were shown the golden plates while visiting the Smith Family Farm in the summer of 1829.
Grandin Building: Book of Mormon Publication Site
The Grandin Building in Palmyra, New York, is the place where the first copies of the Book of Mormon were printed and bound in 1829 and 1830. Egbert B. Grandin owned and operated a printshop in the building. Today this historic site is open to the public year-round. It features restorations of the original bookstore, printer’s office, printing press, and bindery. It also features exhibits about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For information about visiting the Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site, click or tap here. E. B. Grandin agreed to print 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon in June 1829 for a cost of $3,000. From August 1829 to March 1830, Grandin and his staff worked to typeset, print, and bind the Book of Mormon in this building. Copies of the book were first sold to the public at Grandin’s bookstore on March 26, 1830. Since then, more than 176 million copies of the book have been printed in more than 100 languages. For more information about the publication of the Book of Mormon, click or tap here.
What to Expect When You Visit the Church’s Historic Sites in New York and Pennsylvania
Find information that can help you plan a visit to the Smith Family Farm and Sacred Grove, the Hill Cumorah, the Book of Mormon Historic Publication Site, the Peter Whitmer Farm, and the Priesthood Restoration Site.
Hill Cumorah: Manchester, New York
The Hill Cumorah in Manchester, New York, is the place where Joseph Smith met annually with the angel Moroni from 1823 to 1827. On September 22, 1827, the angel allowed Joseph to obtain the golden plates from which the Book of Mormon would be translated. Today this historic site is open to the public year-round. The site includes trails to the top of the hill and a visitors’ center featuring exhibits, historical artifacts, and a film about the founding of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A monument at the top of the hill commemorates the events that took place there. For information about visiting the Hill Cumorah, click or tap here. The events that took place at the Hill Cumorah were foundational to the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Directed by the angel Moroni, Joseph Smith found the golden plates deposited in the hill on September 22, 1823, approximately three miles from his home. Joseph met the angel there on the same date the next four years until he was finally allowed to obtain the plates. From those plates, he later translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. In the 1820s, the hill did not have a name. It later became known as the Hill Cumorah because Moroni, the Book of Mormon’s final author and the angel who met with Joseph Smith, wrote that he had hidden the golden plates in a hill called Cumorah (see Mormon 6:6). A monument designed by Torleif S. Knaphus was placed on the hill in 1935. To learn more about the events that brought Joseph Smith to the Hill Cumorah and about the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon, click here.
Whitmer Farm: Church Organization Site
Whitmer Farm, located near Fayette, New York, is the place where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in 1830. This historic site is open to the public. A reconstructed log home and a visitors’ center commemorate events associated with the organization of the Church. The visitors’ center includes artifacts, a film, and interactive displays about the translation of the Book of Mormon and the founding and growth of the Church. For information about visiting the Whitmer farm, click or tap here. Peter and Mary Whitmer allowed Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to live in their home in June 1829 so the two men could complete the translation of the Book of Mormon. Joseph’s wife, Emma, later joined them there. The Whitmer farm was also the place where the angel Moroni showed three men, now known as the Three Witnesses, the golden plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. On April 6, 1830, about 55 people gathered in the Whitmers’ home, where Joseph Smith presided over the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On the 150th anniversary of the organization of the Church, President Spencer W. Kimball presided over a session of the Church’s general conference held at the Peter Whitmer Farm. On this occasion, President Kimball also dedicated the reconstructed log home. Today the Church’s membership is greater than 16 million. Latter-day Saints gather each Sunday in more than 30,000 congregations throughout the world.
Priesthood Restoration Site
The Priesthood Restoration Site in Oakland Township, Pennsylvania, is a place where several significant events of the Restoration occurred. Joseph Smith translated most of the Book of Mormon here, in the home he shared with his wife, Emma. John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in a nearby forest and restored the Aaronic Priesthood to the earth. Joseph and Oliver baptized each other in the Susquehanna River. This historic site is open to the public. The site features historic landscapes, three monuments, two reconstructed homes, and a visitors’ center with a film, artifacts, and interactive exhibits. The McCune Cemetery, where Joseph and Emma Smith buried their first child and where Emma’s parents are buried, is adjacent to the site. For information about visiting the Priesthood Restoration Site, click or tap here. Emma Hale grew to adulthood in this place, which was known as Harmony in the early 1800s. Later, she lived here with her husband, Joseph Smith. While Joseph and Emma lived here in 1828 and 1829, Joseph translated most of the Book of Mormon. Emma Smith served as Joseph’s scribe for a time, and later Oliver Cowdery received that responsibility. On May 15, 1829, in answer to Joseph and Oliver’s prayer about the authority to baptize, God sent John the Baptist, who conferred on Joseph and Oliver the Aaronic Priesthood. Joseph and Oliver baptized each other in the Susquehanna River later that day. In 1960 the Church placed a monument on the site commemorating the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. The monument was designed by Avard Fairbanks.
What to Expect When You Visit the Priesthood Restoration Site
Joseph Smith Birthplace
The Joseph Smith Birthplace, located in Sharon, Vermont, is a historic site and a memorial to Joseph Smith Jr., the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joseph Smith Jr. was born on December 23, 1805, to Lucy Mack Smith and Joseph Smith Sr. At the time, the Smiths lived in a small home on a farm owned by Lucy’s father, Solomon Mack. On the 100th anniversary of Joseph Smith Jr.’s birth, a 50-foot granite obelisk was raised on the site. Today, the grounds at the birthplace serve as a contemplative space open to the public. A visitors’ center provides information about Joseph Smith’s life and his mission as the prophet through whom Jesus Christ began to restore His gospel to the earth. For information about visiting the Joseph Smith Birthplace, click or tap here. Joseph Smith was the fifth of 11 children born to Lucy Mack Smith and Joseph Smith Sr. They lived on the Solomon Mack farm for three years while they worked to overcome previous financial setbacks. Eventually, Joseph Smith Sr. sought work in New York, and the family established a farm in Manchester, New York, near the village of Palmyra. On that farm, Joseph experienced his First Vision, in which God the Father and Jesus Christ visited him. This and other spiritual manifestations led to the publishing of the Book of Mormon and the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
What to Expect When You Visit the Joseph Smith Birthplace
Historic Kirtland: Kirtland, Ohio
Historic Kirtland, in Kirtland, Ohio, includes a visitors’ center and six historic structures: a schoolhouse, a sawmill, an ashery, the Newel K. Whitney and Company store, Newel and Ann Whitney’s home, and the Johnson Inn, which now houses historical exhibits. President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated Historic Kirtland on May 18, 2003, after which it was opened to the public. Tours and exhibits are available at the site year-round. They tell about experiences of early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who gathered in Kirtland in the 1830s. For information about visiting Historic Kirtland, click or tap here. In early 1831, the Lord commanded Latter-day Saints to go to Ohio, where they would receive His law, be endowed with power from on high, and prepare to share His gospel among all nations (see Doctrine and Covenants 38:32–33). While they were there, they built a temple—a place of learning, worship, and revelation. In Kirtland, Joseph Smith received many revelations to guide the government of the Savior’s restored Church and to guide the individual lives of Church members. The Kirtland Temple is owned and operated by Community of Christ. They offer tours for a small fee, which enables them to preserve the temple. For information about visiting the temple, click or tap here.
The Morley farm, located near Kirtland, Ohio, is where Isaac and Lucy Morley once lived.
The Johnson Home, in Hiram, Ohio, is the carefully restored home where John and Elsa Johnson lived in the 1830s. Joseph and Emma Smith lived in this home for one year. While they were there, Joseph received 16 revelations that are now recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants. He also worked on his inspired translation of the Bible. President Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated the Johnson Home on October 28, 2001, after which it was opened to the public. Today the home is open for guided tours. For information about visiting the historic Johnson Home, click or tap here. One night, a group of men broke into this home and ripped Joseph from his bed. They forced him outside and carried him to a meadow some distance away, where they tarred and feathered him. The next day, after Emma nursed his wounds and cleaned the tar and feathers from his skin, he delivered a sermon. Probably the most well-known revelation Joseph Smith received in the Johnson Home is the vision recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 76. In that vision, he and Sidney Rigdon saw God the Father and Jesus Christ and learned of different kingdoms of glory that people will inherit after they are resurrected.
What to Expect When You Visit the Church’s Historic Sites in Ohio
Independence Visitors’ Center: Independence, Missouri
A Latter-day Saint visitors’ center is located in Independence, Missouri. In 1831, the Lord designated Independence, in Jackson County, as “the center place” of Zion (Doctrine and Covenants 57:3). Latter-day Saints gathered there, began to establish a new community, and prepared to build temples, but their actions and their large population concerned settlers who had arrived there previously. Some of those settlers drove the Saints out of the county in 1833. Today, the Independence Visitors’ Center includes exhibits about the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Missouri and about Heavenly Father’s eternal plan for His children. President N. Eldon Tanner dedicated the building on May 31, 1971. For information about how to visit the Independence Visitors’ Center, click or tap here. In August 1831, Sidney Rigdon dedicated Jackson County as a place of gathering for the Latter-day Saints, and Joseph Smith dedicated a temple site in Independence. By July 1833, between 1,000 and 2,000 members of the Church lived in Jackson County. Dissension among Church members and contention with others in the area led to violent attacks and the expulsion of the Saints from the region later that year.
Liberty Jail, located in Liberty, Missouri, is a reconstruction of a jail that once stood in the city. The reconstructed jail is housed within a visitors’ center. It is presented as a cutaway, giving visitors a view inside. A brief audio presentation tells the story of the jail. On December 1, 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith and five other men were falsely accused of treason and imprisoned in the original Liberty Jail. One of those men, Sidney Rigdon, was released from the jail in early February 1839. The others—Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, and Alexander McRae—remained there until early April 1839. For Joseph Smith and his imprisoned companions, Liberty Jail was a place of intense suffering and glorious revelation. In Liberty Jail, Joseph Smith and his companions endured many trials, not the least of which was the knowledge that their family members and friends were enduring intense persecution throughout western Missouri. Toward the end of their confinement, Joseph prayed to God for understanding and deliverance. He received a revelation that he sent in a letter to the Saints. Portions of that letter are now recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 121, 122, and 123. President Joseph Fielding Smith dedicated the re-created jail and the surrounding visitors’ center on September 15, 1963. For information about how to visit Liberty Jail, click or tap here.
Today, Hawn’s Mill, located in Braymer, Missouri, is a large, open field with trees and Shoal Creek on one side and farmland on the other. In the late 1830s, Hawn’s Mill was a bustling center of action and productivity—a small community centered on a mill owned by Jacob Hawn. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of 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. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns the land where the attack occurred. The only markers on the land are signs placed by Community of Christ, who once owned the land. For information about visiting the site, click or tap here.
What to Expect When You Visit the Church’s Historic Sites in Missouri
Far West Temple Site: Far West, Missouri
The Far West Temple Site, located in Kingston, Missouri, includes a small fenced area with monuments featuring scripture references about events that occurred there. Although the Far West Temple Site does not house a temple, it exhibits the original four cornerstones, showing the place where members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints once planned to build a temple. Farmland surrounds the site. In August 1836, Latter-day Saints began to establish a stake of Zion at Far West. By 1838, Far West was home to 4,900 Saints. 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 Doctrine and Covenants 115:11; 118:5). For information about visiting the site, click or tap here.
Adam-ondi-Ahman: Jameson, Missouri
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.
From 1839 to 1846, the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was located in Nauvoo, Illinois. Under the prophetic leadership of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, Latter-day Saints worked together to build a community and a temple there. The temple was a focal point in the landscape of the city and in the lives of the Latter-day Saints. Today Historic Nauvoo is open to the public. Visitors enjoy tours and activities in historic homes, shops, and other buildings. The temple has been reconstructed, and the temple grounds are open to the public year-round. Entrance into the temple is limited to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with current temple recommends. For information about visiting Historic Nauvoo, click or tap here. For information about entering the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, click or tap here. In Nauvoo, the Lord revealed truths and practices that continue to guide His Church today. His revelations to the Prophet Joseph Smith included the founding of the Relief Society, the practice of baptism and confirmation for the dead, and temple marriage. The Lord also inspired Joseph to confer priesthood keys on the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, preparing them to lead the Church if Joseph were to die. After Joseph’s death in nearby Carthage, President Brigham Young and other Apostles led the Church.
On June 27, 1844, the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were martyred—killed by a mob that attacked them in Carthage Jail. Joseph “sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so [did] his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated!” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3). The original jail in Carthage, Illinois, has been carefully restored and is about a 30-minute drive from Historic Nauvoo. Missionaries lead tours there, where visitors learn about the ministry of Joseph Smith and the final days in the life of Joseph and Hyrum. For information about visiting Carthage Jail, click or tap here. At Carthage Jail, visitors also learn about two other men, Elders John Taylor and Willard Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They were in the jail when the mob attacked, and they survived. The Church itself also survived, as Apostles and others built on the foundation the Lord had established through His servant Joseph Smith.
What to Expect When You Visit Historic Nauvoo and Carthage Jail
At Historic Nauvoo and Carthage Jail, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers a wide variety of experiences—from guided tours to entertainment to quiet contemplation.
The reconstructed Kanesville Tabernacle and the visitors’ center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is a historic site that commemorates the reorganization of the First Presidency in 1847. The visitors’ center also includes exhibits, historical artifacts, and a film about the Mormon Battalion, whose members enlisted about 10 miles south of the tabernacle. The Mormon Battalion was a group of about 500 Latter-day Saints who joined the United States Army in 1846, during the Mexican-American War, to help provide financial support for their families and other Mormon pioneers. For information about visiting the Kanesville Tabernacle, click or tap here. The original tabernacle was built in December 1847 in the Council Bluffs area of Iowa, which was later renamed Kanesville by the Latter-day Saints. On December 27, many Saints attended a meeting in the tabernacle during which they sustained Brigham Young as President of the Church and Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards as counselors in the First Presidency. This marked the first time that the First Presidency had been organized since the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. The process of sustaining a new President helped establish the pattern of succession that continues in the Church today.
Mount Pisgah Monument
The Mount Pisgah Monument is located in a small cemetery on the route of the Mormon Trail near the town of Thayer, Iowa. The cemetery likely includes as many as 150 Latter-day Saint pioneers who lived in the temporary settlement of Mount Pisgah between 1846 and 1852. The original grave markers are long gone, but a 12-foot-high obelisk memorializes those who died at Mount Pisgah and provides the names of 63 of those interred there. Interpretive markers and a reconstructed pioneer-era log cabin can be found in an adjacent state preserve. For information about visiting the Mount Pisgah Monument, click or tap here. Mount Pisgah was one of three temporary way stations Latter-day Saints established in central Iowa during the exodus from Nauvoo. Between 2,000 and 3,000 pioneers lived in Mount Pisgah at its height, and thousands more stopped there briefly on their way west. Although the community provided refuge and a chance for the Saints to rest and prepare for their journey further west, illness was rampant and the death rate was high. Mount Pisgah and the other settlements in central Iowa were completely abandoned in 1852, when Church leaders called Latter-day Saints still residing in the Midwest to gather to Utah.
What to Expect When You Visit the Church’s Historic Sites in Nebraska and Iowa
Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters: Omaha, Nebraska
The Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters, located in Omaha, Nebraska, is a visitors’ center with exhibits about Winter Quarters, a major settlement for Latter-day Saint pioneers after they left Nauvoo, Illinois. The exhibits describe the Latter-day Saints’ westward migration to the Salt Lake Valley in Utah by wagon, handcart, sailing ship, and train. Next to the trail center are the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery and the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple. The Mormon Pioneer Cemetery, which was a burial site for some of the pioneers who died at Winter Quarters, includes a monument called Tragedy of Winter Quarters, sculpted by Avard Fairbanks. For information about visiting these places, click or tap here. Winter Quarters was one of as many as 90 Latter-day Saint settlements along the Missouri River in Nebraska and Iowa. Although the settlements were temporary homes on the way to the Salt Lake Valley, many Saints worked and built as if they would stay there for decades. They established successful farms and businesses and even published a newspaper. Brigham Young and other Church leaders spent time at Winter Quarters, ministering to the Saints and helping them prepare to travel west. While there, Brigham received a revelation that helped the Saints organize themselves and prepare spiritually for the trek. That revelation became Doctrine and Covenants 136.
What to Expect When You Visit the Church’s Historic Sites in Nebraska and Iowa
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.
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.
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.
The Beehive House, located in Salt Lake City, Utah, served as President Brigham Young’s primary residence from 1855 until his death in 1877.
Cove Fort is located halfway between Beaver and Fillmore in south central Utah. It served as an important way station for travelers, the Pony Express, and telegraph lines from 1867 to the early 1880s. Ira Hinckley and his family, and later Ira’s brother Arza and his family, provided food and lodging for visitors at the fort. Today, Cove Fort is a historic site operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is open to the public. Tours of the restored fort tell about the families who lived there and about their efforts to provide for the needs of the travelers. For information about visiting Cove Fort, click or tap here. Ira Hinckley, his brother Arza, and local workmen built the fort of volcanic rock in 1867. They built it to protect themselves and travelers from possible Native American raids resulting from the Black Hawk War (1865–68). Native Americans never attacked the fort. During the fort’s use as a way station, the Hinckley family maintained good relationships with local Pahvant Ute and Navajo Indians. Operating a self-sufficient fort was largely a family affair, which included preparing regular meals and rooms for guests and maintaining a small farm, ranch, and blacksmith shop. President Brigham Young was a regular visitor at the fort during his annual visits to the settlements in southern Utah.
Brigham Young Winter Home and Office
From 1870 to 1877, President Brigham Young lived in St. George, Utah, during the winter months. Beginning in 1872, he and members of his family lived in the place that is now called the Brigham Young Winter Home. From this home, he directed the affairs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today this historic site is open to the public year-round. The home and adjacent office have been restored and furnished to reflect their 1870s appearance. Tours tell about Brigham Young’s family life in St. George and about his role in directing the settlement of southern Utah, including the construction of the St. George Utah Temple. For information about visiting the Brigham Young Winter Home, click or tap here. Brigham Young purchased this home in 1872. He remodeled it, doubling its size to more fully meet his needs. While living here, he continued his regular work of administering the Church, including overseeing the construction of the St. George Temple. As the completion of the temple neared, he built an office adjacent to the home. The office provided privacy for him to meet with selected Church leaders to reinstitute temple ordinances that had not been performed in a temple since the Saints left Nauvoo, Illinois.
St. George Tabernacle
The St. George Tabernacle in St. George, Utah, is a historic meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has functioned as a place of worship and a place for community gatherings since 1869—before its completion in 1876. It is also open for public tours. Guided tours highlight features that illustrate the faith, unity, artistry, and industry of the Latter-day Saints in their efforts to create a holy building where they could worship God. Exhibits display artifacts used in the construction and ornamentation of the building. For information about visiting the St. George Tabernacle, click or tap here. Not long after the establishment of St. George, Brigham Young directed settlers to construct a building where they could worship. They began construction in June 1863, using local red sandstone and labor that was either donated or funded by their tithing donations. Settlers from all over southern Utah Territory either worked on or provided goods for the tabernacle’s construction. They completed the tabernacle in 1876. Concerts, community celebrations, Latter-day Saint and non–Latter-day Saint worship services, special conferences, memorial services, and other events have been held here. For more information about the history of the tabernacle’s construction and use over the years, click or tap here. The St. George Tabernacle is an example of 19th-century Latter-day Saint tabernacle building. Latter-day Saints no longer build tabernacles. Like modern stake centers, tabernacles served large geographic areas and multiple congregations and provided a large primary worship space. Unlike modern stake centers, tabernacles did not include smaller rooms for religious instruction. From 2016 to 2018, the St. George Tabernacle received structural updates, and the interior and exterior were restored to their 19th-century appearance.
The Hamblin Home in Santa Clara, Utah, is the place where Jacob Hamblin, Southern Utah Indian Mission president, lived with his family from 1863 to 1868. Because of Hamblin’s service among the American Indians in the region, the home functioned as the headquarters for the mission. Today it is a historic site and is open for public tours. The home and furnishings have been restored to reflect their 1860s appearance. Tours of the home tell about Hamblin’s lifelong dedication to serving American Indians and about his family and their life on the frontier of southern Utah Territory. For information about visiting the Jacob Hamblin Home, click or tap here. In 1854 Brigham Young called about two dozen men, including Jacob Hamblin, to serve in the Southern Utah Indian Mission. Initially the mission was headquartered in New Harmony, Utah, but lack of water necessitated the move to Santa Clara. While in Santa Clara, Hamblin and other missionaries worked with Paiutes in southern Utah and Nevada. Hamblin’s missionary efforts required living among the Indians. As a result, he spent most of his time away from his family. He viewed his mission as a lifelong calling. In 1869 he and his family moved to Kanab, Utah, where he continued his proselytizing efforts among the Hopi in southern Utah and Nevada and among the Navajo in Arizona. The home provided accommodations for Hamblin’s large family. His wives Rachel Judd and Sarah Priscilla Leavitt accompanied him on his mission to southern Utah. At the time they moved into the home, the family included six children. Sarah bore three additional children while living in Santa Clara. Rachel passed away while the family lived here. Jacob married Louisa Bonelli in 1865. She bore one child while living in Santa Clara.
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Mormon Battalion Center at San Diego
The Mormon Battalion Center at San Diego is a visitors’ center that commemorates the Mormon Battalion’s historic journey from the Council Bluffs area of Iowa to San Diego, California. The Mormon Battalion was a group of about 500 Latter-day Saints who joined the United States Army in 1846, during the Mexican-American War, to help provide financial support for their families and other Mormon pioneers. The site features an interactive video tour, historical artifacts, and demonstrations on gold panning and brickmaking. For information about visiting this place, click or tap here. Serving under the direction of army officers from July 1846 to July 1847, the Mormon Battalion marched nearly 2,000 miles across the southwestern United States. Although the battalion never engaged in battle, 20 members died during the journey west. The soldiers of the Mormon Battalion made several contributions to the settlement of the American West. They improved trails as they moved west, others helped build Fort Moore in Los Angeles, and still others helped build Sutter’s Mill and witnessed the discovery of gold there, which prompted thousands of people to migrate to the West Coast. Most battalion members eventually reunited with their family members and friends in the Salt Lake Valley or in Iowa and Nebraska.
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Tabernacle to Temple: Provo’s Legacy of Worship
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Pine Valley Chapel
The Pine Valley Chapel is located in Pine Valley, Utah, about a 45-minute drive north from St. George, Utah. This historic meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was built by settlers of the valley in 1873. Latter-day Saints in the area continue to meet in the building each week for worship services. During the summer, tours of the building are given daily. These tours highlight the dedication of the early Saints in Pine Valley and the construction and ornamentation techniques they used during the building’s construction. The tours also include a visit to the nearby tithing office, which was constructed in 1886. In the chapel, only the first floor is accessible for visitors in wheelchairs. For information about visiting the Pine Valley Chapel, click or tap here. Settlers came to Pine Valley in 1856 to harvest timber. The construction and operation of successful lumber mills brought additional settlers. The mills provided timber for several Latter-day Saint construction projects, including the St. George Temple, the St. George Tabernacle, and the pipes for the organ in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Settlers began using local resources to build a chapel in 1872. They finished after a year of hard work. Local settler and shipbuilder Ebenezer Bryce is often credited with designing the chapel’s roof using shipbuilding techniques. Although Bryce may have assisted with the construction of the chapel, the roof was constructed using normal building methods of the time. The first floor was often used as a community center and schoolroom. The second floor functioned as the primary worship space. Prominent leaders, including Wilford Woodruff, visited the area and probably gave sermons in the chapel. The two-story building has undergone several renovations and restorations, but the original structure remains. The roof and windows have been replaced, and other modern conveniences have been added. An attic room added after the building’s completion now contains historical artifacts, including photographs of local Church leaders since the early days of the settlement. The chapel and tithing office were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The chapel was dedicated in 2005 by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who has ancestors from Pine Valley. For information on other Church-related historic locations in southern Utah, click or tap here.
The Paris Tabernacle, located in Paris, Idaho, is a historic meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since its completion in 1889, it has functioned as a house of worship and a community center. Today it is also open for public tours. Guided tours, about 30 minutes long, highlight the faith and sacrifice of early Church members who donated their time, labor, and money to build the tabernacle. The main floor is accessible to visitors in wheelchairs. Public restrooms are available. For information about visiting the Paris Tabernacle, click or tap here. Settlers established Paris in the late 1860s and soon needed a meetinghouse where they could gather to worship God. Although plans were created right away, work on the tabernacle did not begin in earnest for more than 20 years. Laborers and resources were needed to complete other buildings first, such as the Logan Tabernacle and the Salt Lake Temple. In 1884 construction began on the Paris Tabernacle, using a new set of plans designed by Joseph Don Carlos Young, who was a professionally trained engineer and a son of Brigham Young. Local Latter-day Saints quarried red sandstone from Indian Creek, about 24 miles southeast of Paris. During winter months, they used wagons to cart the stone across the frozen Bear Lake, cutting several miles from the journey. The Paris Tabernacle seats 3,000 people and is designed to give every person a clear view of the pulpit. To achieve this, Young included a sloping floor, a second-floor gallery, and a semicircular choir loft. Stories about the tabernacle suggest that the roof was designed with shipbuilding techniques, but Young used the typical architectural techniques of the time. President George Q. Cannon, a member of the First Presidency, dedicated the tabernacle in 1889. At that time, it was known as the Bear Lake Tabernacle. Since then, the electrical and heating and air systems have been modernized while preserving the building’s 1880s appearance. The Paris Tabernacle is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Cody Mural Chapel
The Cody Mural Chapel, located in Cody, Wyoming, features a large domed ceiling with a mural depicting the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The mural illustrates the beginnings of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the dedication of early Latter-day Saint pioneers. The chapel and visitors’ center are open to the public during the summer months, with historical artifacts on display and interactive kiosks explaining the story of the pioneers. Visitors can take free guided tours. The Cody Mural Chapel is ADA accessible, and public restrooms are available. For more information about visiting the Cody Mural Chapel, click or tap here. Latter-day Saints in the Cody area worked with Church leaders to build this chapel in the 1940s. The Saints in Cody commissioned Edward T. Grigware, a renowned mural painter from Chicago, to paint the mural. Grigware, who was not a Latter-day Saint himself, spent a year researching and understanding the history of the Church, which gave him a respect and love for the early members of the Church. The mural depicts several important scenes in the Restoration, including Joseph Smith receiving the golden plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon, the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and the pioneers trekking to the Salt Lake Valley and building a temple where they could worship God. Portraits of the first eight Presidents of the Church are interspersed among depictions of these stories. Elder Henry D. Moyle first dedicated the chapel in 1949. Since then, the building has been renovated several times and the original mural preserved. In 1972 Elder Hugh B. Brown rededicated the chapel. For information on other historic locations in Wyoming related to the history of the Church, click or tap here.