D&C Lesson 34: The Trek West


“We are the inheritors of a tremendous heritage. Now it is our privilege and responsibility to be part of the Restoration’s continuing drama, and there are great and heroic stories of faith to be written in our day. It will require every bit of our strength, wisdom, and energy to overcome the obstacles that will confront us. But even that will not be enough. We will learn, as did our pioneer ancestors, that it is only in faith—real faith, whole-souled, tested and tried—that we will find safety and confidence as we walk our own perilous pathways through life”

M. Russel Ballard, General Conference, April 1997


Class Member Study Guide

“Faith in Every Footstep”

Food for Thought

  • What is to be learned from pioneer stories, especially those of unrelated people or in the distant past?
  • How can we connect to their struggles and learn similar lessons in our own world?
  • What principles did they follow that are just as applicable in our own struggles today?
  • What is the difference between a journey being merely ‘difficult’ vs. being ‘in vain’?

Material Shared in Class

  • “I did not devise the great scheme of the Lord’s opening the way to send this people to these mountains. Joseph contemplated the move for years before it took place, but he could not get here” (Brigham Young, on the decision to head west, DBY, 480).
  • In the days of Joseph we have sat many hours at a time conversing about this very country. Joseph has often said, “If I were only in the Rocky Mountains with a hundred faithful men, I would then be happy, and ask no odds of mobocrats.’” (ibid., DBY, 480).
  • The Exodus, by the numbers:
    • The number of Mormon pioneers? Men, women, and children? 70,000
    • Estimates of those who died? about 4,600…or 6 %…1 in 16
    • Number of pioneers who walked the entire trail? Certainly the vast majority
    • Size of average wagon? 10′ x 3.5′
    • Number of pioneers who came by handcart? 3,000, or 4%.
    • Period of the exodus? Twenty-two years
    • Number of companies? Two hundred
    • Number of companies a giant eagle high above the planet might see, stretched out along the trail, all at once, in an average September? Nine, averaging 350 souls in each
    • Number of pioneers born as Americans? One in every four. 
    • Number of pioneers who began the trail immediately after crossing the Atlantic Ocean? Two of every three
    • How many ships? Ninety-seven. (Eighty-seven from Liverpool, six from Hamburg, four from London)
    • Among them were The Argo, The Olympus, The Ellen Maria, The Forest Monarch, The Golconda, The Old England, The Germanicus, The Rockaway, The Emerald Isle, The Chimborazo, The Caravan, The Enoch Train, The Horizon, The Tuscarora, The William Tappscott, The Monarch Of The Sea, The Antarctic, The Amazon, The Caroline, The Arkwright, and The S. Curling
    • Average number of saints per ship? 434
    • Distance from Liverpool to New Orleans, where more than half landed? 5,000 miles
    • New Orleans to St. Louis? 1,173 miles up the Mississippi River
    • St. Louis to the trailhead at Kanesville or Florence, where Winter Quarters stood? 620 miles
    • Winter Quarters to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake? 1,035  miles
    • Length of the journey for most? 7,828 miles.
  • M. Russell Ballard, on summoning ‘reservoirs of faith’…
  • “The Pioneering Cycle”

Additional Resources


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