Mormons as Principal Settlers of the West

They built a commonwealth, or as they would have put it, a Kingdom. But the story of their migration is more than the story of the founding of Utah. In their hegira they opened up southern Iowa from Locust Creek to the Missouri, made the first roads, built the first bridges, established the first communities. They transformed Introduction: The Way to the Kingdom 7 the Missouri at Council Bluffs from a trading post and an Indian agency into an outpost of civilization, founded settlements on both sides of the river and made Winter Quarters (now Florence, a suburb of Omaha) and later Kanesville (now Council Bluffs) into outfitting points that rivaled Independence, Westport, and St. Joseph. They defined the road up the north side of the Platte that is now the route of both U.S. 30 and the Union Pacific Railroad. Their guide books and !rail markers, their bridges and ferries, though made for the Saints scheduled to come later, served also for the Gentiles: according to Irene Paden in The Wake of the Prairie Schooner, a third of the California and Oregon travel from 1849 on followed the Mormon Trail.

That is to say, the Mormons were one of the principal forces in the settlement of the West.