Utah man travels 1,400 miles in wagon to retrace path of Mormon pioneers

Jul 22, 2022, 6:36 PM | Updated: 7:51 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah County man just completed a 1,400-mile journey that retraced the path of the Mormon pioneers.

Joe Blythe of Genola rode a wagon pulled by two mules for nearly two months. Two others rode horses ahead of him — his wife, Marcyne, and his friend, Woodrow Durrant.

“It’s been a long haul,” Blythe said, “and our days are long. We’re typically up at 4 o’clock, and we don’t get to bed till after 9, sometimes 10.”

He was inspired by his Mormon ancestry. He acknowledged his trek was much easier with paved bridges and support along the way.

“Our ancestors paid a heavy toll,” Blythe said.

The group set off May 23 from Omaha – the Winter Quarters Nebraska Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They traveled at roughly 3.5 miles an hour until they reached Salt Lake City.

Blythe was continuing his journey, which began last year when he and Durrant traveled from Nauvoo, Illinois, to Omaha. They remembered the pioneers who did survive the trip 175 years ago.

“After you get past Iowa, most of them are unmarked graves,” he said, “and the only thing you know maybe is ‘two days past Chimney Rock.’ That’s the only thing you know, and there’s a lot of them.”

Friends and family watched the final portion of the trip, which took Blythe and his team down Emigration Canyon into This is the Place Heritage Park.

“They’re half crazy, but the pioneers, I think you had to be a little half crazy to do what they had to do and persevere,” said Kim Cordova, a friend.

Blythe wants to encourage others to look into their family history. He hopes one of his 14 grandchildren will one day repeat the path he took.

“It helps me stay motivated for my dreams, things that I want to do,” said Lacy Hicken, Blythe’s daughter. “He’s shown me that it’s possible.”

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Utah man travels 1,400 miles in wagon to retrace path of Mormon pioneers