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Following the Pioneer Trails – Martins Cove

Posted by on October 9, 2013

Onward West from Independence Rock we found our way to MARTIN’S COVE.   After a brief visit with one of the LDS volunteers in the visitor center, we were given permission to park in their parking lot overnight.  It’s a large almost level lot that they use for the many “trekkers” that come here throughout the year.  We were the only ones to park here this night. Link to Visitor’s Center

We were welcomed to take the hikes out to Martin’s Cove and the Devil’s Gate. Our time was short so we walked to Devil’s Gate and then drove the 3 miles out to the camp area where the trekkers stay.

About 100,000 people visit the site each year, of which the majority are members of LDS church.  Every year thousands of LDS Youth participate in “Handcart Treks” through the area near Martin’s Cove. These Treks involve dressing up in period clothing while spending several days pulling handcarts and camping out along the Mormon Trail. The highlight of their Trek is visiting Martin’s Cove and Devils Gate.

Parking Area at Martin's Cove

Parking Area at Martin’s Cove




In November 1856, about 500 Mormon emigrants in the Martin handcart Company were halted for five days in the Cove by snow and cold while on their way to Salt Lake City.  The Martin Handcart company had begun its journey on July 28, 1856 which was dangerously late in the season and would ultimately lead to the disaster. Although the number who died in the Cove is unknown, more than 145 members of the Martin Company died before reaching Salt Lake City. A few days prior to their arrival at Martin’s Cove, the company was met by a small rescue party with food, supplies, and wagons that Brigham Young had sent from Salt Lake City, Utah. On November 4 the company and rescuers forded the bitterly cold Sweetwater River and found shelter in the cove. That evening a powerful north wind blew the tents to the ground. The tents were set up again, but a blizzard brought heavy snow. The company remained in the camp for five days, unable to proceed due to the snow and cold. A number of the company’s cattle died there.  When the weather warmed, on November 9, the company was able to move on toward Utah. The survivors finally reached Salt Lake City on November 30.


Our Camp Spot at Martin's Cove

Our Camp Spot at Martin’s Cove


Later many other emigrants would pass by the Cove on their way to Utah, California and Oregon along with Pony Express Riders. During the 1870s, Tom Sun, his original name being “Soleil”,  a French-Canadian frontiersman, purchased the area around the Cove and established the Sun Ranch.

Sun Ranch at Martin's Cove

Sun Ranch at Martin’s Cove


Sweetwater River

Sweetwater River



Martin's Cove

Martin’s Cove



















Devils Gate

Devils Gate












Devil's Gate

View of Devil’s Gate





Mark at the Devils Gate

Mark at the Devils Gate


Wagon Trail over Rattlesnake Pass

Wagon Trail over Rattlesnake Pass


Historical marker at Martin's Cove

Historical marker at Martin’s Cove































Pronghorn at Martin's Cove Fence

Pronghorn at Martin’s Cove Fence












Split Mountain

Split Mountain

The next Landmark for the pioneers was Split Mountain. It looks like the sight on a gun. It is visible for 50 + miles away.


Split Mountain at Sunset from Martin's Cove

Split Mountain at Sunset from Martin’s Cove



Trail Marker at Martin's Cove

Trail Marker at Martin’s Cove


Martin's Cove Visitor Center

 Below is a short Video I compiled of many of the photos I took as we visited the landmarks of the Emigrant trails over the past days. It begins with a few photos from the Wyoming Historical collection.


Click on the following link:



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