Rocky Ridge

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Between the fifth and sixth crossings of the Sweetwater, on October 19, 1856 the Willie Handcart Company was halted by the same snowstorm that stopped the Martin Handcart Company near Red Butte. At the same time, the members of the Willie Company reached the end of their supplies of flour. A small advance team from the rescue party found their camp and gave them a small amount of flour, but then pushed on to the east to try to locate the Martin Company. Captain James Willie and Joseph Elder went ahead through the snow to find the main rescue party and inform them of the Willie Company's peril. On October 23 with the help of the rescue party, the Willie Company pushed ahead through the biting wind and snow up Rocky Ridge, a rough 5-mile section of the trail that ascends to a ridge in order to bypass a section of the Sweetwater River valley that is impassable.


Handcart Companies of 1856


  • Mormon Handcart Production - A theatrical re-enactment, dedicated to the Martin and Willie Handcart Companies of 1856 and their Rescuers, both past and present.
  • A PBS Documentary Chronicling the Westward Migration of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies of 1856. Sweetwater Rescue is perhaps the most untold hardship and human sacrifice story in all of American western history. In this epic documentary the lives and sacrifices of hundreds of men and women will be told for the first time to a national PBS audience - Norman Bosworth & Lee Groberg
  • Sweetwater Rescue - From 1856 to 1860, ten handcart companies traveled to what they considered Zion. Eight crossed the plains successfully. Two—the Willie and Martin Companies—met with a wintry disaster in 1856, as did the Hunt and Hodgett Wagon Trains trailing behind them. The rescuers from the Salt Lake Valley faced the same horrific snows.

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