New Visitors’ Center in Winter Quarters

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“New Visitors’ Center in Winter Quarters,” Ensign, Oct. 1995, 80

New Visitors’ Center in Winter Quarters

A new visitors’ center that tells the story of the exodus of Latter-day Saints from Nauvoo to Salt Lake Valley will soon be built across the street from the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery in the area known historically as Winter Quarters in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Mormon Trail Center will also tell of the approximately eighty settlements founded along the Missouri River between 1846 and 1852 where thousands of pioneers stopped for rest before they headed west to Utah.

The center “will offer visitors a glimpse of the faith and courage of Latter-day Saints who left their comfortable homes and sacred temple in Nauvoo,” said Elder Stephen D. Nadauld of the Seventy, Executive Director of the Church’s Historical Department. “In the face of great obstacles, they journeyed to a place of refuge in Utah, where they built homes and a new temple.

“The site for the new center is particularly appropriate,” Elder Nadauld continued, “since the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery is nearly all that remains of the Latter-day Saint settlements in the area that served as way stations for these pioneers.”

The visitors’ center is planned for completion in spring 1997, in time for the celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Latter-day Saint pioneers’ arrival in Utah. The center replaces the current visitors’ center, a remodeled home, and will have seven thousand square feet of exhibit space. The exhibit team is looking for historic documents and photographs and artifacts of all kinds, including artifacts brought west by Latter-day Saint emigrants throughout the nineteenth century. “There must be hundreds of such objects tucked away in basements or garages that would help bring the story alive for visitors,” noted exhibit curator Marjorie Conder.

The exhibit will include a section on Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, their lifestyle, and why they left the town. It will explain the trek across Iowa, look at various modes of transportation, recount stories of Latter-day Saints dealing with disease and death, and outline reasons for the gathering of the Saints in the Salt Lake Valley.

Artist’s rendering of the new Mormon Trail Center.