How Long Was The Handcart Journey?

Journey to Martin’s Cove: The Mormon Handcart Tragedy of 1856

More than 200 of the 1856 emigrants died crossing what is now Wyoming as winter set in, because carts were cheaper than wagons and ox teams, and people pulling handcarts could move more quickly.
Relief parties in wagons loaded with extra food went east to find the latecomers and bring them in. After nine days, they discovered the Martin Company camped just a few miles from the Willie Company. Exhaustion, exposure, and a lack of food had weakened the emigrants.

Primary Sources

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel 1847-1868,”,18016,4976-97569,00.html, accessed April 29, 2012.


The photo of Brigham Young in the photo gallery comes from the Marriott Library’s special collections, while the photo of the 18 LDS Church missionaries in Liverpool in 1855 comes from the LDS Church Archives and is used with permission and gratitude.

How far did the Martin Handcart Company travel?

Before embarking on their 1,300-mile (2,100-kilometer) journey, the emigrants spent several weeks in Iowa City, where they built their handcarts and were outfitted with supplies.

How many died in the Martin Handcart Company?

In his book “Devil’s Gate,” David Roberts claims that the Mormon handcart expeditions were the “most deadly (chapter) in the history of westward migration in the United States.” Nearly 250 of the 900 members of the Martin and Willie handcart companies died in brutal blizzards in the Wyoming and Utah mountains in the fall of 1847.

Why did Mormons use hand carts?

Handcarts were far cheaper than wagons and ox teams, and people pulling handcarts could move more quickly because they didn’t have to wait for their livestock to graze on a daily basis, according to church leaders in 1856.

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How many Mormons died crossing the plains?

Bashore collaborated with a team of actuarial scientists at Brigham Young University to examine 56,000 pioneer records from 1847 to 1868, finding that 1,900 people died on the plains or within a calendar year of their arrival.

Were all pioneers Mormon?

They could travel 25 to 30 miles per day (wagons could only travel 10 to 15 miles per day on average). As the Mormons prepared to travel west, the US government approached them for assistance in the war against Mexico.

Did the pioneers use handcarts?

Handcarts were cheaper and faster because they didn’t have to deal with harnessing animals or chasing them if they got loose at night. From 1856 to 1860, Mormon pioneers used handcarts to travel from Iowa to Utah, and 3,000 Mormon converts traveled west during that time.

How many Mormon handcart companies were there?

Between 1856 and 1860, nearly 3,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints walked to Utah from Iowa City, Iowa (a distance of 1,300 miles) or Florence, Nebraska (a distance of 1,030 miles) in ten handcart companies totaling about 650 handcarts.

What happened at Martin’s Cove?

In November 1856, about 600 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) emigrating in the Martin Handcart Company were stranded in the Cove for five days due to snow and cold while on their way to Salt Lake City. The tents were quickly re-erected, but a blizzard brought even more snow.

Is a dolly a hand truck?

A dolly is a four-wheeled, two-axle platform that can be used to transport heavy items from one location to another. Unlike hand trucks, which can slide under the item on the ground, items must be lifted onto the dolly to be transported.

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What does handcart mean?

A handcart is a small cart with two wheels that is used to transport goods and can be pushed or pulled.

How many died on Mormon Trail?

The researchers discovered 1,900 deaths during the journey or within a year of arriving in Salt Lake, resulting in a 3.5 percent overall mortality rate. Disease was the leading cause of death, followed by accidents such as being trampled by livestock or being run over by a wagon, according to the researchers.

What hardships did the Mormon pioneers face?

The journey along the Mormon Trail (as it was later known) was perilous, and many pioneers perished as a result of rattlesnakes, blizzards, Native American encounters, and starvation, to name a few obstacles.

What percentage of Mormon pioneers died?

Tolley’s class estimated that the Mormon pioneers died at a rate of 3.5 percent, slightly higher than the overall rate of 2.9 percent for the United States in 1850. According to Tolley, the most common cause of death along the trail was a disease common in 19th century America.

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