The Deseret News had a nice feature on Gregory Franzwa, author of 20 books including a state-by-state series on the Lincoln Highway. His new book, The Mormon Trail Revisited, retraces the 1846-47 route of the Mormon pioneers across the midwest and into Utah. The book mixes history with driving directions to the 1,400 miles of trails and country roads. Its 284 pages include more than 200 photographs of the trail and historic sites.
The article offers some insights into the author’s work and the trail:
“This exodus was the most amazing thing. There’s been nothing like it before or since. You think of the 2,500 humans and 500 wagons that left Nauvoo and camped at Sugar Creek. That has to be the biggest wagon train in history times 10.”
Franzwa and his wife, Kathy, who now live in Tooele, spent three years tracking the trail. They follow the mass exodus across Iowa, where the “adhesive mud so frustrated the pioneers’ plans to cross the Rockies that year that they had to hole up along the Missouri River. That must have been so discouraging for them.”
He then follows the trail that Brigham Young and the lead wagon train followed across the plains and into the Salt Lake Valley. “We found every single campsite,” he says.
His purpose in writing the guide was twofold. He wants to help people get there — “right in the traces. Right where the mules and oxen and wagon wheels left those scars. To get out of the car and stand in those ruts….
A second reason for the guide, however, is equally important, he says — to encourage preservation. “When a person has read that history, stood right on those pioneer pathways and driven or hiked the pioneer routes, it is unlikely that there will be much support for proposals which would damage or destroy the historic trails or sites.
To purchase the book ($24.95 paper, $39.95 cloth) or for more info, check Franzwa’s Patrice Press site patricepress.com/.