A Young Folks' History of the Church
While the Saints were in Winter Quarters during the winter of 1846-7 they were busily
preparing for the march to the mountains next spring. Men for the advance company were
selected, and on April 7, 1847, they began to move out of Winter Quarters to a place
westward, where they were to gather. Ten days later the first or pioneer camp, was ready
for marching. The idea was to have twelve times twelve men, but one became sick and
had to return, so that left one hundred and forty-three. There were besides the men three
women and two children. They had seventy-two wagons, ninety-three horses, fifty-two
mules, sixty-six oxen, nineteen cows, seventeen dogs, and some chickens.
For three months and seventeen days this company traveled westward over plains and
mountains. During the first part of their journey they sometimes followed a wagon road
to Oregon, and sometimes they made new roads. The shallow rivers they forded, the deep
ones they built bridges over, and the large ones they crossed in ferry boats which they
built. After these ferries had been built the pioneers sometimes took over companies on
their way to Oregon and received provisions for their pay
The map will show you the route they took better than can be told here.
The pioneers did not know exactly where they were to locate. It was to be in some valley
of the Rocky mountains where they could live in peace, free from mobs. When President
Young was asked as to their destination, all he could say was that he would know the
place when he should see it, and that they should continue to travel the way the Spirit of
the Lord directed them.
On their journey they often met scouts and trappers. One of the best known of these was
Col. James Bridger. He had been all through the valley of the Great Salt Lake, he said,
and he told the pioneers that they could not live there, as nothing would grow. So sure
was he of this that he offered to give a thousand dollars for the first bushel of corn they
could raise in that valley. President Young simply said, "Wait a little and we will show
When they left the plains and got up in the mountains some of them became sick with the
mountain fever. Among those ailing was President Young. He became so bad that he
could not travel, so when they were in Echo canyon he instructed Orson Pratt to take the
main company on and he with a few men would remain for a few days.
The main company, therefore, went on down Echo canyon, up Weber valley, and across
the mountains, coming down into Salt Lake valley through Emigration canyon. President
Young had told them that when they got to the open country on crossing the mountain
they were to go to the north and stop at the first convenient place for putting in their
seeds. This the company did, and on the 23rd of July they camped on the ground where
now stands the beautiful city and county building in Salt Lake City. After offering up
their thanks to God for his preserving care, they at once got out their tools and began to
work. The season was so far advanced that if they were to raise anything they must hurry.
When they tried to plow the land, they found it so dry and hard that some of the plows
were broken. What could they do? Then the thought came to turn the water in the creek
over the land and soak it up. This was done, and then there was no trouble to plow and
plant. This was the beginning of irrigation in this western part of the United States.