A Pioneer’s Liahona

One book that I appreciate these days is a small little pamphlet style book known as The Latter-day Saints’ Emigrants Guide.  When you look at this book it gives a sense of the difficulties faced by immigrants travelling in a strange country.

Honestly I could not imagine coming from an urban centre like Liverpool, Manchester or London and going on the train to Independence from New York then getting out and some guy says, “Here is the wood or handcart and off you go over a thousand miles to the west… off you go…”

Ok it was not exactly like that but you know what I mean.

What is interesting how some things are so critical to their discussion and makes sense when you think of it, such as knowing what a ford of various rivers would be like, what the land in the area appears and where grass ends for feeding the oxen or horses. 

As the subtitle says, Being a table of distances showing all the springs, rivers, hills, mountains, camping places, and all other notable places from Council Bluffs to the valley of the Great Salt Lake.  Published originally in 1848 at St. Louis.

When you look at this book what strikes me is how coordinated and organized the Saints were to record and demark travel across the west.  Especially when you compare the fiasco of the Donner party crossing which reads like a bad soap opera. 

My favourite comment:

Note VII. At the foot of the mountain on the south side the road, and at the edge of the creek, there is a strong sulphur sprin,  A little above the spring, on the side of the mountain of stone coal.  At the foot of the bluff, west of where you cross the creek, is a noble spring of pure, cold water; and about a mile from this place, in a south-west course is a “Tar,” or “Oil Spring,” covering a surface of several rods of ground.  There is a wagon trail runs within a short distance of it.  It is situated in a small hollow, on the left of the wagon trail, at a point where the trail rises a higher bench of land.

When the oil can be obtained free from sand, it is useful to oil wagons. It gives a nice polish to gun-stocks, and has been proved to be highly beneficial when applied to sores on horses, cattle &c.

Considering the obsession with the Oil Sands in our area and oil in the world it just seems ironic.


3 Responses to A Pioneer’s Liahona

  1. Ardis Parshall says:

    Great title for this post, Jon. You’re apt to start a run on this book by people who want to find that tar spring, though … /g/

  2. Jon W says:

    Well hey at five bucks it is a good investment 😉

  3. Justin says:

    It’s a great little book–full of interesting details and useful information. BYU digital collections also has an online copy for review.

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