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Description

The Only Contemporary Map of the Mormon Trail.

Rare hand-colored lithographed antique map of the American West focusing specifically on the routes by which Mormon's could reach Utah from points on the Missouri River. As such, it is the only contemporary map focused specifically on the Mormon Trail.

In this example, two routes are hand-colored, one starting from Council Bluffs, and the other starting from Atchison ("Atchicon"), Mormon Grove, and Independence. Further trails feed into Council Bluffs from cities, on the Mississippi, such as Nauvoo. The borders of Utah are also hand-colored.

In the lower-left corner fourteen Utah counties are named.

The map was prepared for inclusion in James Linforth's Route from Liverpool to Great Salt Lake Valley... Together with a Geographical and Historical Description of Utah, and a Map of the Overland Routes to that Territory, from the Missouri River. Also, an Authentic History of the Latter-Day Saints' Emigration. (Liverpool, 1855) The book is rare itself, with the cheapest copy on ABE Books currently asking $25,000.

The 1855 Trail

The map focuses on a Mormon emigrant route that was most actively used in 1855 (the year the map was made), before it shifted northward to Iowa City. This is reflected in the places shown on the map, such as Mormon Grove in Atchison County, Kansas. A Kansas State Historical marker notes of Mormon Grove:

Near here, located in a grove of young hickory trees, was an important rallying point in 1855 and 1856 for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), then emigrating to the Rocky Mountains.

The campground, really a temporary village covering about 150 acres, consisted of the grove, a large pasture fenced by native sod and a ditch, and burial ground located on the elevated ridge between the grove and the farm. Though one or two permanent structures were erected, most residents lived in tents, wagon boxes or make-shift dwellings.

During the peak year of emigration at Mormon Grove in the 1855, nearly 2,000 Latter-day Saints with 337 wagons left here for the Salt Lake Valley. It was also a tragic year for the U.S., British, and European Mormons at the little waystation, many dying in a cholera epidemic.

In 1856, Iowa City, Iowa, became the major jump-off point for Latter-day Saint westward travel, and Mormon Grove became a forgotten gathering place.

Reference
Howes L359; Wagner-Camp 259; Flake and Draper 6381.