Mormons Will Reenact Journey to 150-Year-Old Trek To Southern California

December 30, 2000

Source: Los Angeles Times

On December 30, 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported that "more than 200 Mormons dressed in pioneer garb and traveling in covered wagons" will cover the 800-mile trail between Salt Lake City and San Bernardino this spring and summer to "replicate the Mormon journey to Southern California 150 years ago." "The wagon train is scheduled to leave Salt Lake City on April 25 and arrive in San Bernardino at the end of June for a three-day festival at Glen Helen Regional Park." Most of the pioneers will be southern Californians. "In 1851, Brigham Young, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sent colonists to establish a western outpost that would serve as a major link in the church's supply line between San Pedro's harbor and Salt Lake City." San Bernadino, the first Anglo American settlement in Southern California, "also included freed slaves, former slaveholders, Jewish merchants, trappers, prospectors, Spanish landowners and Native Americans....Heritage Trails organizers said their reenactment will underscore the community's diversity and its ability to come together." The cohesion of the group was "amazing," "when you consider the times and church history. Though always antislavery, Mormons didn't allow blacks into the priesthood until 1978. The belief, since rejected, was that African Americans were descendants of Cain and carried the curse of the man who killed his brother Abel." In 1857, Young called the Mormons back from San Bernadino. The third who disobeyed "were excommunicated or drifted away from the church. The Mormons wouldn't establish another official church in San Bernardino for more than 60 years." Nevertheless, "the Mormons are credited with being the founding fathers of San Bernardino." "The 2001 wagon train is designed to bring attention to the Mormons' role in Southern California history, in addition to giving church members and others a realistic taste of pioneer life....The reenactment is similar to the journey in 1997 when thousands of Mormons rode in covered wagons from Nebraska to Salt Lake City to mark the 150th anniversary of Brigham Young's pilgrimage to Utah."