Building Faith Through Church History

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Season 2 Episode 25 Rivers to Zion


The story of what it was like to sail the rivers of America to reach Zion.


The major rivers of pioneer America were both barriers to cross and arteries of travel. Early pioneers first began river travel on the Mississippi and up to New Orleans. Emigration agents on both sides of the Atlantic provided a valuable service to the emigrants. Riverboat travel is the neglected story of Latter-day Saints emigration. Accommodations on the riverboats were as spartan as that aboard the ocean-going ships. Many lives were lost on the rivers due to cholera and other diseases.  River travel was dangerous and difficult, especially on the Missouri. The riverboat Saluda exploded on the Missouri in 1852 killing more than 100 people. The town rallied to help the survivors. After 1854, President Brigham Young asked that emigrants cross the ocean to ports in Boston, New York, and etc, and journey on to Zion from there.


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