The Saints Crossing the Mississippi, by Grant Romney Clawson © IRI; photographs by Jennifer Maddy and Welden C. Andersen
A New City
After the Prophet Joseph Smith was killed, Nauvoo, Illinois, became a dangerous place. The Saints fled their homes to find a safer place to live. In February 1846, the first group of Saints started their trek westward, but bad weather and sickness slowed them down. By the time they had crossed Iowa, it was too late in the year to make it over the Rocky Mountains before winter. So Church leaders chose a place where the Saints could stay for the winter. They named it Winter Quarters.
Some people built homes out of logs or sod. Others lived in tents and caves. The Saints tried to be happy during the long, cold winter. They helped each other. They went to concerts and sang and danced. They built a flour mill, a town hall, and a basket-making factory.
The time the Saints spent in Winter Quarters was difficult. Many people died. But the pioneers had faith that the Lord would bless them and help them make it to Zion. When spring finally came, the first group of pioneers left Winter Quarters to journey to the Salt Lake Valley.
Today you can see the beautiful Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple and visit the Mormon Trail Center in Winter Quarters to learn more about the pioneers.