Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov,
MOINES) – Gregory Franzwa, author of the new book, The Mormon Trail Revisited, will discuss the route of the Mormon Pioneer Trail 7 p.m. Friday at the Western Historic Trails Center, 3434 Richard Downing Avenue in Council Bluffs.
The free program will trace the Mormon Pioneer Trail from Nauvoo, Ill., through Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming to the future home of the Mormon pioneers in the valley of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The program will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a book signing.
Franzwa and his wife, Kathy, spent three years researching the trail, including several field trips totaling some 10,000 miles along the historic road. The prize-winning author’s presentation on Friday will include 80 slides showing important sites along the 1,400-mile trail to Salt Lake City.
“We located the route of the pioneers across Iowa, from February to June 1846, to plus-or-minus 100 yards,” Franzwa said. “There were about 2,500 Mormons along that route with about 500 covered wagons. It had to be the longest single wagon trail in American history.”
In researching The Mormon Trail Revisited, Franzwa received unstinted cooperation from the Mormon Church; Brigham Young University history professors; local historian, Gail Holmes; and unlimited access to church archives.
The 284-page paperback, published by Patrice Press, guides present-day motorists along the roads nearest to the route of the 1846-47 Mormon Pioneer Trail. Roads are usually within a few yards of the pioneer trail, and sometimes right over it.
“Our book gives driving directions, telling the motorist how to reach the route across Iowa, and that route is almost all gravel,” he said.
Franzwa is the principal founder of the Oregon-California Trails Association (1982) and the Lincoln Highway Association (1992), and has written 20 nonfiction books about America’s historic trails. His landmark 1972 book, The Oregon Trail Revisited, is in its fifth edition.
The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa’s past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.
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