We walk on down the Trail till we come to a plaque honoring a mass grave of eighteen Mormons. They were members of a handcart company who froze to death in a snowstorm as they marched toward Salt Lake City in the 1850s.
The plaque says they died right here, says Sam, but it makes no sense that they would have sought shelter in this spot. See that cliff just over there? That’s where they tried to save their lives. I have found pieces of their carts with my metal detector.
Seeking freedom from bigotry, the Mormons began the long and harsh journey West out of St. Jo and Independence, Missouri. Many were so poor that they could not afford wagons, so they walked and pushed handcarts. One such walker was Thomas Dobson, who became a Pony rider in Utah. When he emigrated with this family in 1856, he walked barefoot all the way from the Sweetwater River, near where I found the two dead buffalo, to Salt Lake City.