On June 18th, members of the Utah Genealogical Association were treated to a wonderful tour of the historic sites along the pioneer trail in and around Echo Canyon, Utah.
We were greeted in Henefer by Kris Whittaker and her team who organized the trip. They did a wonderful job and the whole tour went off without a hitch. Each family group was given a manila folder with all sorts of information about the history of the area—a great collection of info in handouts and various brochures that was enlightening in and of itself. But then as the tour commenced we were treated to John Eldredge’s comprehensive knowledge about the area. Eldredge’s books, The Utah War: a guide to the historic sites South Pass to Camp Floyd, and Illustrated Emigrants’ Guide to the Historic Sites Along the Hastings/Mormon Trail are great resources on the area.
The highlight of the trip was being able to see Cache Cave. Located on privately held land, the cave is only open to the public on the third Saturday of June every year. The cave earned its name by being a place where goods were cached for future travelers. Many pioneers carved their names in the sandstone, and while most have eroded away, many were still visible. Two of the people in our modern expedition were surprised to find ancestors who had carved their names in the rock. Kathy Palmer and Vicky Hayes were able to locate their ancestors and were moved to see a piece of their family history there in stone. To touch the same rock, and be in the same cave that a progenitor passed through brings an amazing reality to your history.
The tour ended at Johns Park in Henefer where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch of pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad, rolls, cold slaw and peach cobbler alamode. Our lunch program began with the Major of Henefer telling stories of the early settlers and the history of the town. Ari Hunsaker of barbershop quartet background played his guitar and sang ‘Riders in the Sky’, ‘Come, Come Ye Saints and ‘If I Could Hie to Kolob’. We all then joined him in singing pioneer songs including ‘Little Pioneer Children’ and ‘The Ox Cart’. The program ended with John Eldredge telling about the history of the area.
Every day on interstate 80, cars, semi-trucks and trailers zoom past the beautiful rock formations of The Great Eastern, Hanging Rock, Winged Rock and Castle on the Mountain, rushing on to their appointments in the east. Few people realize the history of the area and the interesting events that happened there. On June 18th, a group of people with the Utah Genealogical Association got to slow down, take in the scenery and learn about the historical sites along the way. Now, thanks to John Eldredge, we also see in our mind’s eye, the camps of Johnston’s army covering those fields, and the wonder of our ancestors at these incredible surroundings. Thank you to the Mormon Trails chapter leadership for all of their hard work in organizing this great tour. Everyone enjoyed the day immensely. We hope to join the UGA Summit County Chapter for this tour again next year.