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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Martin's Cove
Martin's Cove, Wyoming
LocationSouthwest of Casper, Wyoming, US
Nearest cityAlcova, Wyoming, US
Coordinates42°27′15″N 107°14′18″W / 42.45417°N 107.23833°W / 42.45417; -107.23833
Visitation100,000+ (2005)
NRHP reference No.77001383
Added to NRHPMarch 8, 1977

Martin's Cove is a historic site in Wyoming. The 933 acre (3.8 km²) cove is located 55 miles (89 km) southwest of Casper, Wyoming, in Natrona County. It is located on the Mormon Trail and is also part of the North Platte-Sweetwater segment of the Oregon Trail. The Cove was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on March 8, 1977.


Before the cross-country railroad was operational, about 70,000 Mormons traveled the Mormon Trail with almost 6,000 dying along the way.[1] In November 1856, about 600 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) emigrating 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.[2] 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.[3] 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, the church president, had sent from Salt Lake City, Utah.[4] On November 4 the company and rescuers forded the bitterly cold Sweetwater River and sought 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 and were preserved in a frozen state. When the weather warmed, on November 9, the company was able to move on toward Utah. With assistance from the original rescue party and from additional rescue parties that met them along the way, the survivors finally reached Salt Lake City on November 30.[3]

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, a French-Canadian frontiersman, purchased the area around the Cove and established Sun Ranch.[5]


LDS youth and leaders visit Martin's Cove on one of the popular "Handcart Treks"
LDS youth and leaders visit Martin's Cove on one of the popular "Handcart Treks"

Following the LDS Church's purchase of nearby Sun Ranch in the 1990s it tried to purchase the Martin's Cove property; to operate it as a historic site.[6] In 2002, a congressional bill for the sale of the property passed the House, but then stalled in the Senate, due to worries about the sale of public land to a religious group.[7] The concerns were mainly the result of the land including areas commonly used as campgrounds by emigrant trains, the Pony Express, and other landmarks such as Devil's Gate. As a result, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), part of the Interior Department, had to negotiate a long-term lease with the church. This lease was signed in 2004, and allowed the church to manage and maintain the property for 25 years.[8]

In 2006, a settlement following a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, modified the way the site is administered, and required that the BLM remove religious references from the site and that the church provide a public entrance to the cove through their property, but independent of the Visitors' Center.[9] The church's volunteers at the site were also required to simply answer questions rather than approach visitors with anything that could be interpreted as proselytizing.[7]


About 100,000 people visit the site each year, with the majority being LDS Church members.[10] Every year thousands of the church's youth participate in "Handcart Treks" through the area near Martin's Cove.[11] 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 nearby Devil's Gate, along with the LDS Visitors' Center.

See also


  1. ^ Niebuhr, Gustav. "Mormons Step Into the Past in Footsteps of Their Ancestors", The New York Times, 22 June 1997. Retrieved on 8 April 2021.
  2. ^ "Martin's Cove". Alliance for Historic Wyoming. 2010-01-14. Archived from the original on 2009-12-28. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b "Martin's Cove". Mormon Historic Sites Registry. 2010-01-14. Archived from the original on 2006-07-20. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Ravitz, Jessica. "Modern-day Mormon pioneers: An outsider looking in", The Salt Lake Tribune, 23 August 2008. Retrieved on 8 April 2021.
  5. ^ "National Register of Historic Places - Nomination Form for Tom Sun Ranch". National Park Service. Retrieved 2010-01-14. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b "Martin's Cove land well-used, well-loved". Deseret News. Deseret News Publishing Company. July 24, 2010.
  8. ^ Johnson, Kirk. "National Briefing", The New York Times, 29 October 2004. Retrieved on 8 April 2021.
  9. ^ "ACLU WINS OPEN ACCESS FOR ALL VISITORS TO MARTIN’S COVE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE IN WYOMING", American Civil Liberties Union, 7 June 2006. Retrieved on 8 April 2021.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher. "Treks give Mormon teens a taste of pioneer past, but some practices steer away from history", The Salt Lake Tribune, 25 July 2016. Retrieved on 8 April 2021.

External links

Media related to Martin's Cove at Wikimedia Commons

This page was last edited on 16 April 2021, at 14:04
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