A chronicle of a stake president to involve the people in his area in temple work for the Willie and Martin handcart pioneers. This research and work expanded into obtaining historic landmark areas in key places along the route. Details are given about how improvements were made and plaques were created in honor of the struggle of these early pioneers.
I like history, and this book has a bit of that. But it also contains a spin that I often see in LDS non-fiction - the "faith-promoting and testimony-building" spin of the importance of Church leadership to the lowly member.
History is romanticized as the tireless Lorimer is prompted by the spirit. He obtains computers for researching the records of the pioneers by the members of his stake and then arranges for the temple work to be completed. Throughout the narrative, difficulties arise and things look grim and desolate, only to miraculously come together perfectly and conveniently before the arrival of top LDS leaders. These examples mirror the conditions of the pioneers in their last desperate weeks, and the winter rescue that occurred.
Lorimer convinces LDS Church leaders to purchase land related to the trek and make improvements so anyone who wishes to walk in the path of the fallen may do so.
Although five other handcart companies had previously safely traveled the same route to the Salt Lake Valley, all with few problems, the Willie and Martin companies have become poster children for LDS pioneers in general. This book is a saga of modern-day humility which desires the reader feel the spirit. The details are designed to evoke an emotional response to the efforts of today's generation building upon the foundation of the truly touching story of these courageous pioneers. The message includes the importance of family history and temple work.
The "Testimonials" section includes prints of line drawings created by young children in the stake. The book provides excerpts from pioneer journals, along with photos of past pioneers and... modern-day leaders. The Riverton Stake Presidency. The Ogden Temple Presidency and wives all dressed in white. President James Foust and President Thomas Monson - because they visited the area.
One particular latter-day memorial choice described in the book reveals the poignancy felt by the author about those who were involved in the project. Lorimer arranged, with difficulty, the purchase of land at Rock Creek Hollow. This was the location where the Willie company spent two days in harsh winter conditions, having completed their forced rescue march over the treacherous Rocky Ridge and down the western slope of South Pass. Those who were still alive were in bad shape. But the site was eventually obtained and improvements and beautification completed. President Gordon B Hinckley officially dedicated Rock Creek Hollow and the mass grave for 15 pioneers in 1992. As explained in "The Second Rescue":
"A new and imposing monument at Rock Creek Hollow was dedicated on July 26, 1997, as the culminating event at the Riverton stake Pioneer Day celebration held that year. It memorialized the Second Rescue and the blessings associated with it. The inscription on the six-foot-high, eight-ton granite stone reads:
To the People of The Second Rescue
Gordon B. Hinckley August 15, 1992
Thomas S. Monson July 15, 1997
James E. Faust July 25, 1992
The names are those of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On August 15, 1992, Pres. Hinckley dedicated the monuments at Martin's Cove, the Willie rescue site, and Rocky Ridge and pronounced a sacred blessing on the people of the stake. On July 15, 1997, Pres. Monson spoke to over 1,400 people in a meeting held in Riverton and gave them a special blessing. And on July 25, 1992, the youth and later the entire membership of the Riverton Wyoming Stake received powerful blessings from Elder James Faust. The monument at Rock Creek Hollow stands as a mighty reminder that urges the people of the Second Rescue to REMEMBER the words, promises, and blessings of the Lord through his apostles and prophets to them."
I leave it to you, dear reader, to decide the relevance.