Mormon covered wagon reenacts inaugural trip on The Oregon Trail

A covered wagon that started out in Illinois is heading west to Salt Lake City where they are reenacting the very first trip taken 175 years ago on the Oregon Trail. Photo by Mark DeLap

DWYER – Most traffic that is slowed this time of the year is due to either very inclement weather or road construction.

Last week on Highway 26 between Guernsey and Dwyer Junction it was a covered wagon pulled by two mules and two accompanying riders on horseback that made traffic slow and say, “now, that’s something you don’t see every day.”

Especially not on a major highway like Highway 26. It just so happens that the road is part of the old Oregon Trail that was also used by the Mormons initially in their exodus of Nauvoo, Illinois, which was an early settlement of the Latter Day Saints for seven years in the mid-1800s.

The Mormon Trail in modern times has become a part of the United States National Trails System and is also known as the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail. After being driven out of Nauvoo in 1846 the group of settlers led by Brigham Young headed for Salt Lake City, Utah.

“We’re heading home,” said wagon driver Joe Blythe who is a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. “We have been traveling since Feb. 4 and hope to get into Salt Lake City by July 22.”

On horseback accompanying the wagon were Blythe’s wife Marcy and friend, Bret Durrant.  

“When I found out that my husband wanted to take this trip, I wanted to beat him,” Marcy Blythe said. “But I got a horse of out the deal.”

The small band of Mormons have a pickup truck also following as part of the caravan and that truck is pulling a horse trailer where the mighty band pulls up each night and according to Blythe, they camp wherever they land, inflate air mattresses and sleep in the horse trailer.

The covered wagon is owned by the Blythes and the wagon sports a flag with 29 stars which is the way it was during the original trek. A small sign sits above the water barrel which simply says “Mormon Trail” with a date of 1847 which is the year the Mormons arrived in Salt Lake City.

It’s a great adventure that honors their religious heritage according to Blythe. He said that they are seeing some great scenery and wildlife and they are staying pretty true to following the original path of early settlers. The biggest obstacle that Blythe said he encounters in 2022 that they didn’t encounter in the 1800s is the traffic and the people.

“There’s times when we are holding up the traffic,” he said. “There are a lot of gapers and people taking pictures and videos. We head up to Casper next and then down through Fort Bridger and then we cross over into Utah.”

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