This week I will include posts honoring the Mormon Pioneers. July 24th marks the important yearly anniversary of the pioneer’s arrival into the Great Salt Lake Valley. “Pioneer Day” is a Utah State holiday, but also stands as an important date to all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world. Each year in Salt Lake City, a huge parade (the largest and oldest west of the Mississippi) takes place, along with a famous marathon, and a “Days of ’47” Rodeo. Businesses and schools will close, grand musical concerts will take place, some will participate in pioneer re-enactments. Fireworks displays & family BBQ’s are always a tradition. It is a marvelous time to celebrate the perseverence and honor the courage of those brave souls who walked over one thousand miles, suffering terrible hardship to find a safe haven from religious persecution.
One of the greatest pioneer stories of love and sacrifice took place on the banks of the Sweetwater River. From 1856 to 1860, ten handcart companies traveled west to gather with the Saints in the Salt Lake Valley. Eight companies crossed the plains successfully, but two—the Willie and Martin companies—met with early winter tragedy in October and November 1856. Rescuers from the Salt Lake Valley faced the same severe snows and freezing winds in their efforts to save the handcart immigrants on the desolate Wyoming plains.
The following video shows a dramatization of this touching story, as told by President Gordon B. Hinckley.
To learn more about the Sweetwater Rescue, or to purchase a DVD of the complete movie Click Here.