Several organizations have collaborated to replace a handful of outdoor informational display panels that detail a journey of Mormons in the mid-1800s across Iowa to settle in Utah.
The panels were installed by organizers at several eastern Iowa sites in 1996 during the 150th anniversary of the trek, The Daily Nonpareil reported.
Bob Schulze with the Pottawattamie County Mormon Trails Association said the signs were “looking pretty shabby” due to age and weather. He and others, including representatives from the Pottawattamie County Conservation and the National Park Service, worked together to replace most of them.
Helping Schulze was Gail Holmes, another trails association member and southwest Iowa historian.
Holmes said the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints left its settlement in Nauvoo, Ill., to travel westward. Church members eventually settled in Utah, but many had lived in the Council Bluffs area between 1846 and 1853.
“They built grain mills, farmed corn and wheat, created businesses,” he said.
Holmes added that the trail used by the Mormons was in use before their journey. The Otoe Indians had established the trail as a trade route with the British, who were encamped near the Mississippi River in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
Schulze said an Iowa Living Roadway Trust grant helped establish the native prairie that surrounds the panels. Organizers worked to make the area resemble what settlers encountered on their travels.
Elder Jay Crandall with the Kanesville Tabernacle in Council Bluffs said that when visitors to the tabernacle want to learn more about the Mormon trek, he directs them to the trail.
“It’s something to see,” he said. “It’s great to say you stood at a spot where Mormon leaders once stood.”