Renewal on the Pioneer Trail

June 2023

Transformations in Omaha, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa

Two major projects at the Missouri River are helping the Church mark the 175th anniversary of the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail. 

Winter Quarters Cemetery

September 2021 marked the 175th anniversary of the founding of Winter Quarters. This temporary Latter-day Saint settlement on the west bank of the Missouri River is now part of
Omaha, Nebraska. The Mormon Trail Center at Winter Quarters shares the story of this place of revelation, sacrifice, and Christian discipleship. It also welcomes visitors to explore the Winter Quarters Cemetery across the street. 

In 2021, elements of the cemetery experienced a major restoration. The Tragedy at Winter Quarters monument, first placed in 1936 at the direction of President Heber J. Grant, received new terrazzo flooring. Worn and cracked sandstone blocks were replaced, and bronze pieces sculpted by Avard Fairbanks were restored. Workers took utmost care to not disturb the many graves that lay just below the monument’s surface.

Kanesville Memorial

For 24 years, a full-scale model of the Kanesville Tabernacle told the story of reorganizing the First Presidency and of pioneer settlements in Council Bluffs and the surrounding area. The aging structure was razed in 2022.

In its place, the Church is creating a memorial landscape that highlights stories offaith, courage, sacrifice, and service that took place in Kanesville from 1846 to 1852. Those who visit the new memorial will find beauty and inspiration in this sacred place.

Plans include a new tribute to the sacrifices of the families who bid farewell to the 500 men and women who marched with the Mormon Battalion in 1846.

A new monument will also honor the powerful testimony Oliver Cowdery shared as he met with Latter-day Saints in Kanesville in 1848. He had separated himself from the Church, but the combined efforts of family, friends, and the Holy Ghost resulted in Oliver’s rebaptism here.
The 1847 First Presidency will remain a central feature in the new memorial. It was in the original Kanesville tabernacle that Latter-day Saints first voted to sustain Brigham Young as President of the Church, with Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards as his counselors.

Together the recent projects at the Missouri River demonstrate the work required to remember the faith, courage, and sacrifice of those who have gone before us. We are grateful for donors, partners in city and state government, professional associations, and the many skilled artisans and craftsmen who are helping to make this possible.

In 2021, elements of the cemetery experienced a major restoration. The Tragedy at Winter Quarters monument, first placed in 1936 at the direction of President Heber J. Grant, received new terrazzo flooring. Worn and cracked sandstone blocks were replaced, and bronze pieces sculpted by Avard Fairbanks were restored. Workers took utmost care to not disturb the many graves that lay just below the monument’s surface.

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