Covenant Communications Presents: “Sweetwater Rescue: The Willie and Martin Handcart Story”
It was a journey to a new promised land in the American West. One hundred fifty years ago, thousands of emigrants found themselves walking thirteen hundred miles from Iowa to Salt Lake City. Carting their meager possessions in hastily built two-wheeled wagons that looked much like shallow, oversized wheelbarrows, the travelers pulled and pushed their handcarts–what became a symbol of the early Mormon pioneers dedication to God.
The handcart pioneers began the trek in high spirits, even though it meant fourteen or fifteen weeks of walking–regardless of age or health. But for the ill-fated Willie and Martin handcart companies, a late start would cause the pilgrimage to take weeks longer, and the human costs would prove to be higher than could ever have been expected. Early harsh winter weather, hunger, fatigue, and illness dictated that many would not live through the journey. The survivors could only pray for a miracle.
And that miracle came–men with that same faith in Almighty, who risked their lives to save almost one thousand converts and bring them to Zion. Traveling with provisions hundreds of miles through freezing temperatures and fierce snowstorms, the rescuers’ effort called for more than grit and tenacity; it demanded experience, sacrifice, compassion, faith, and ingenuity.
Dramatic and powerful, with nearly seventy newly created paintings, Sweetwater Rescue: The Willie and Martin Handcart Story is real-life history presented in absorbing prose and images. It is the saga of the rescued and their rescuers, the story of people who earned the title “Saints”