This week I decided to stick with the pioneer theme of things and share a poem I wrote after seeing a portion of the Mormon Trail for the first time in 1994, shortly before my first book, "Kate's Turn," was published. Eager to explore the Mormon Trail for myself, we made a family trip out of the occasion and drove up to an area in Wyoming known as Martin's Cove. This is the site where so many pioneers lost their lives after a handcart company became stranded during a severe storm.
In that same area, you can see Independence Rock, a rock formation where the pioneers carved their names in the granite face. Nearby you can also see Devil's Gate, a perpendicular cleft between two mountainous cliffs. It was there that I received the inspiration to write the following poem. After I share it, I'll include a few pictures that were taken during our 1997 trip to Nauvoo---we followed the Mormon Trail as closely as we could upon our return. During that trip, we traveled with 2 other families---close friends and relatives. It was a wonderful experience. I'll place captions under these pictures to make it easier for you to understand what you're seeing. First, the poem (Incidentally, the picture above is of Devil's Gate.):
Thoughts at Devil’s Gate
As I stand where you once stood, a shiver runs down my spine,
And with it, the sensation of stepping back in time.
The wind moves freely through the grassy plain, sagebrush stands a dismal grey—
Clouds hurry forward, darkening the heated day.
The barren hills echo still, the sounds of sacrifice and pain,
Rutted trails bear witness of the courageous spirit that did sustain.
With wonder, I gaze at the challenges, remembering the trials that were endured,
And experience feelings that can’t be shared or translated into written word.
Would I have passed the tests you triumphed—could I have stood the Refiner’s Fire,
That purified your sainted heart—leaving a legacy to inspire?
Turning now from the past I know my tests are of a different time,
Somehow, knowing you persevered gives me hope in facing mine.
Pioneer blood flows through these veins—that courage is in my heart,
The journey that I make in life, will someday play a part
In the lives of those who follow; may these paths unite us into one,
Those who went on before, and those who are to come.
Cheri J. Crane
All that was left of the original Nauvoo Temple in 1997. You can see most of the foundation, and we were told that this circular area was where the original baptismal font was located.
The memorials to Emma Hale Smith, Joseph Smith Jr., and Hyrum Smith--Nauvoo 1997.
Memorial to all those buried in the Winter Quarters area. (June 1997)
A trail marker along the Oregon\Mormon Trail. The two trails link for a time. Incidentally, this area (Ash Hollow, Nebraska) is where my 2nd-great-grandmother, Keturah Lunn, gave birth to her son, Orson Broadbent in 1852. (Yep, that's my family posing by the Oregon Trail monument.)
This is a modern wagon train we ran into on our trip near Fort Laramie, Wyoming. It was a 1997 sesquicentennial commemorative journey made to honor the Mormon Pioneers who traveled this same route in 1847.
This is a picture of the wagon ruts in Wyoming that are still visible.
And here we have a portion of Independence Rock. I'm one of the two people climbing it in this picture. From a distance, this looks like a giant turtle. You can still see some of the pioneer names that were carved into the granite.
This is a shot of the Martin's Cove area. As you can see, my family is pulling one of the handcarts that are available at the visitor's center. This gives you a chance to see what some of the pioneers endured on their journey. Very much worth the time to experience. (June 1997)
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