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Mormon Youth Recreate Handcart Treks of 1850s Pioneers

Full photo story article with photos and text
27 photos, 500 words

In the late 1850s, thousands of Mormons emigrated from Europe, bound for Utah. Where the rail lines ended in Iowa, those who could not afford oxen and covered wagons built carts that they pulled by hand across the plains and over the mountains. Hundreds died when caught by winter in Wyoming.

Handcarts have become an important symbol of Mormon history. Every year, many Mormon youth recreate short versions of these handcart treks. On the shore of Utah Lake, high school students from Orem, Utah dressed in pioneer clothing and spent three days pulling handcarts, sleeping in tents, playing, praying, and listening to stories about their ancestors.

Click any photo to start gallery:

  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Mormon culture, representing the faith and sacrifice of earlier generations.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Mormon culture, representing the faith and sacrifice of earlier generations.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Mormon culture, representing the faith and sacrifice of earlier generations.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Mormon culture, representing the faith and sacrifice of earlier generations.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s.  Participants knelt in prayer before starting the last day of their trek.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Participants knelt in prayer before starting the last day of their trek.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s.  Participants knelt in prayer before starting the last day of their trek.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Participants knelt in prayer before starting the last day of their trek.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Mormon culture, representing the faith and sacrifice of earlier generations.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Mormon culture, representing the faith and sacrifice of earlier generations.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Mormon culture, representing the faith and sacrifice of earlier generations.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Mormon culture, representing the faith and sacrifice of earlier generations.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Young men rest under a handcart during a break from the trail.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Young men rest under a handcart during a break from the trail.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. During a break, leaders speak about Mormon history and principles.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. During a break, leaders speak about Mormon history and principles.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. A participant has her blisters attended to.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. A participant has her blisters attended to.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Mormon culture, representing the faith and sacrifice of earlier generations. During a break from the trail, participants write in their journals.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Mormon culture, representing the faith and sacrifice of earlier generations. During a break from the trail, participants write in their journals.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Participants skip along a road to reach their handcarts on the last day of the trek.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Participants skip along a road to reach their handcarts on the last day of the trek.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. The
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. The "women’s pull" section of the trail remembers pioneer women who carried on after men died or left to join the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican-American war. Trek organizers had plowed this section of trail the night before to make it more difficult.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. The
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. The "women’s pull" section of the trail remembers pioneer women who carried on after men died or left to join the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican-American war. Trek organizers had plowed this section of trail the night before to make it more difficult.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. The
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. The "women’s pull" section of the trail remembers pioneer women who carried on after men died or left to join the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican-American war. Trek organizers had plowed this section of trail the night before to make it more difficult. The men stand silently alongside the end of the trail to honor the women.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. The
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. The "women’s pull" section of the trail remembers pioneer women who carried on after men died or left to join the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican-American war. Trek organizers had plowed this section of trail the night before to make it more difficult. The men stand silently alongside the end of the trail to honor the women.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. A young woman attends to her sore feet at the end of the second day.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. A young woman attends to her sore feet at the end of the second day.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. David Smith, president of the Vineyard stake, which sponsored the trek, speaks to participants. (A Mormon stake is similar to, though generally smaller than, a Catholic diocese.)
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. David Smith, president of the Vineyard stake, which sponsored the trek, speaks to participants. (A Mormon stake is similar to, though generally smaller than, a Catholic diocese.)
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Part of the trek is a
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Part of the trek is a "river crossing," which recalls the difficulty some handcart groups had crossing the icy Sweetwater River.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Part of the trek is a
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Part of the trek is a "river crossing," which recalls the difficulty some handcart groups had crossing the icy Sweetwater River.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Part of the trek is a
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Part of the trek is a "river crossing," which recalls the difficulty some handcart groups had crossing the icy Sweetwater River.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Part of the trek is a
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Part of the trek is a "river crossing," which recalls the difficulty some handcart groups had crossing the icy Sweetwater River.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. At the end of the second day, participants had enough energy for pioneer games.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. At the end of the second day, participants had enough energy for pioneer games.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. At the end of the second day, participants had enough energy for pioneer games.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. At the end of the second day, participants had enough energy for pioneer games.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. At the end of the second day, participants had enough energy for pioneer games.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. At the end of the second day, participants had enough energy for pioneer games.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Mormon culture, representing the faith and sacrifice of earlier generations.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. Handcarts have become an important element of Mormon culture, representing the faith and sacrifice of earlier generations.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. At the end of the second day, a group discussed the day’s events.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. At the end of the second day, a group discussed the day’s events.
  • Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. During a lunch break, a speaker talked about handcart trek history.
    Elberta, Utah - Mormon high school students wearing pioneer clothing, accompanied by adult leaders, participate in a three-day handcart trek, recreating the experience of Mormon emigrants who used handcarts to travel to Utah in the late 1850s. During a lunch break, a speaker talked about handcart trek history.

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