The Vault

A Late 19th-Century Day-by-Day Commemorative Map of the Mormon Journey West

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This pictorial map, printed in 1899, commemorates the 1846-47 route of émigrés from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as they made their way from Illinois to Utah. The map’s particulars are drawn from the journals of LDS elder Orson Pratt, who was with Brigham Young and the smaller detachment of 147 pioneers who first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in July of 1847.

Black dots represent campsites, which are labeled by date; the numbers alongside the dashes between the dots show how many miles the group traversed between campsites. The map’s printers Millroy & Hayes also published and sold a guide to the map, based on Pratt’s writings.

The map’s features aren’t drawn to scale, being selected instead to represent importance of events along the way. All the way to the right, the Carthage Jail, where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered by an angry mob in 1844, serves as a beginning point; it’s almost as large as the city of Nauvoo. South of Council Bluffs, Iowa, a shaded portrait commemorates the Mormon Battalion, a group of 500 émigré volunteers who enlisted in the United States Army during the 1846 campaign against Mexico. Closer to Salt Lake, Pulpit Rock, the now-demolished formation where Brigham Young was said to have preached his first sermon in Utah, gets pride of place along the route.

The map’s commemorative publication in 1899 seems to show how quickly pilgrimage tourism, now common among Saints, had taken hold. Salt Lake City’s New Wilson European Hotel, which republished the map and several other illustrated guides to the city in the early 20th century, advertised itself as being located “Two Blocks from all Mormon Interests.” It seems likely that the hotel would have sold their 1903 version of this map as a souvenir to people visiting Salt Lake City for religious reasons—only 56 years after the city was first settled.  

Click on the image to zoom, or check out the map’s page in the Library of Congress’ digital collections. 

Library of Congress.