Sunday, August 30, 2015

Iowa City: Marching Off Point for Mormon Pioneers 1856-57

There are times when what we imaging in our heads has nothing to do with how it really was.  At the time when the end of the rail line was at Iowa City (1856-1857) the outfitting point was actually two to three miles outside of town.  This necessitated a good walk to get there.  These year of course coincide with the first two years of handcart companies.  Today it is part of the University of Iowa Campus and is within a mile of the Iowa City Stake Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This is where Caleb's mission would meet for transfers every six weeks, as it is considered a central location for the mission.
I always imagined Iowa as being fields at the time, cultivated, and the vegetation pretty much being similar to that in Wyoming or western Nebraska.  However in visiting the place, I now realize how wrong I was.  I should have remember Iowa is a humid place, which much more rain fall that Wyoming or Nebraska.  Consequently the grass would have been very high, and there would have been woods not yet cleared, and a three mile hike would have been a formidable task.  Another formidable task would be to maneuver handcarts which such thick vegetation.
I went there to find where Langley Bailey had talked about swimming, in the Iowa River, close to the outfitting point.  I could not find the river, although I know it is not too far distant.  There were river beds, which made me wonder if the route of the river could have changed in the last 150 years.
At any rate, I was totally taken back by the presentation of the environment.  It was not anything like what I had in my head.  The humidity and the heat would have been difficulty.  This type of environment would have also been prime ground for bugs, including mosquitoes.  It also was a prime environment for wild flowers.  There where many trees, which would have provided shade.  However, it would have been difficulty to find a place for the tents.  When Isaac was there there were 2000 other pioneers making ready to cross the plains.  They would have been spread out, but also crowded trying to find a place for that many people.

Lots of greenery to deal with

lots of grass

Looking down at old river bed

That be us

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