Mountain Meadows


Some places pull you in because of their beauty; others grab your heart because of the sheer magnitude of the story they hold. Mountain Meadows in Utah is not necessarily the most stunning of settings, one of dozen of open fields in the southwest dotted with sagebrush and juniper trees, but its story is gripping.

Mountain Meadows looks peaceful from today's vantage point. (Photo: B. Kopp)

Mountain Meadows looks peaceful from today’s vantage point. (Photo: B. Kopp)

We’re suckers for any roadside stop that lets us get out of the car and stretch our legs on longer road trips to a hiking or paddling destination. Cutting westward from St. George, Utah on our way to King’s Canyon, California, we saw the signs indicating an interpretive trail and couldn’t resist. A short path led uphill from the Mountain Meadows parking lot to an historic monument. Grabbing a quick veggie sandwich, we’re up the trail – and almost losing our lunch.

Massacre Meadow. (Photo: B. Kopp)

Mountain Meadow Massacre Interpretive Trail. (Photo: B. Kopp)

In 1857, a wagon train travelling from Arkansas to California on the Old Spanish Trail was attacked and laid siege by a party of Mormon militia and Native Americans. Fifteen of the emigrants were killed over the course of the next five days. On September 11th, the emigrants were convinced to give up their stronghold in return for safe passage to Cedar City, Utah.

It was a ruse. Less than a mile away, guns were pulled and 14 men, 12 women, and 35 emigrant children were killed. An additional 35 unidentified people lost their lives as well as nine cattle drivers. Once the massacre was over, 17 children under the age of seven remained alive. They were eventually returned to Arkansas. Sometimes history isn’t pretty, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored.

Granite memorial stone. (Photo: B. Kopp)

Granite memorial stone. (Photo: B. Kopp)

“Only he that has travelled knows where the holes are deep.”
– Chinese Proverb

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