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Mormon Handcart Visitors' Center

Field review by the editors.

Alcova, Wyoming

For more than a hundred years, the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy remained a footnote. People had their own problems. But interest has grown, helped tremendously by the opening in 1997 of a Mormon Handcart Center near the Martin's Cove site. Tourists come 1,000 a day during the summer months -- no one wants to be there in late October. Fun is fun, but

The Center, which is in the middle of 12,000 acres, is owned and operated by the Mormon Church. They also have a 1,000 head cattle ranch on the land. After years of haggling, opposition from church and state separatists, and political backroom deals, the actual site of the tragedy, which sits on Federal Land, was leased to the Mormon Church.

Bryce Christensen, director of Mormon Handcart Historic Sites in Wyoming, has said: "There's a spirit here that seems to answer questions people are fighting with, that helps them reach deep in their souls. Even those who are not members of the church find a calmness and peace here that they comment on."

A visitor's center displays detail the sad story of the Martin Company. Bits of broken handcart hubs and spokes are cemented among the rocks of the fireplace there.

There are about 160 handcarts for visitors to pull, and organized two- or three-day treks involve hauling them to campsites (a distance of between three and six miles) and back, as well as spending some time for reflection in Martin's Cove.

Also see: Mormon Handcart Tragedy

Mormon Handcart Visitors' Center

47600 W. Hwy. 220, Alcova, WY
33 miles southwest of Alcova.
Summer Su-Sa 8 am - 7 pm. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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