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September 2002

Nauvoo – The Stories Come To Life

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Lets talk about Nauvoo. It was 7 years ago. My cousin, Aaron, was getting married somewhere out near Nauvoo, so we made the trip back there. Nauvoo is a very beautiful area. Trees surround the area and the Church has managed to keep this place very clean, just like they do for Palmyra – which I won’t see for another 5 years. Unfortunately it’s been 7 years since I was there, so this post will be missing some details.

First, let talk about the town. The town of Nauvoo is just a bit outside St Louis, Missouri. When I say just outside, I mean about 3.5 hours outside. It seemed much closer than that. The drive to Nauvoo leads you to the town along the Mississippi River, which is more like a slow moving lake than it is a river. As you come into the town you look to your right an the temple just stands out like you are meant to look at it. The rest of the town seems to be based around the temple, even though the temple was just barely finished a few years before we got there (the second version, the original was finished long before we got there – but those were worse times for the Mormons). There is a large water tower right next to the temple with large bold letters across the side stating “NAUVOO”. For a while there was even a temple cam that let you get online and watch the action at the temple.

We stayed in a nice hotel down the street from the temple. This was easy to find since there is only 1 street in Nauvoo. We did not spend much time in the hotel. In the morning we headed down to the historic area of Nauvoo. Perhaps I should explain the layout. There is the actual town of Nauvoo where the businesses make their money, which seemed to mostly be businesses based around the church – and the one building in the middle that chose to be the anti-Mormon establishment of the own. I’ve no idea how these businesses stay in business when the only people that come to town are those that want to learn more about the church… enough with the tangent. The other part of Nauvoo is the historic area that the LDS church and the RLDS Church (Now known as the Community of Christ) own and take very good care of. The town of Nauvoo closes at 5:00 pm. After that time I don’t remember any business open that we could even get something to eat at and there were certainly no amusement parks around.

We visited a lot of restored buildings including the first Browning Gun shop, a place that showed how the bricks were made (which was amazing), the Trail of Tears, a big visitor center (not restored, but nice), a bread shop, and a lot of other buildings that I can’t remember and the temple (of course). For her own reasons, my mother spent a lot of time in the genealogy building looking up names and otherwise not going to Burger King with us. I’ll stick to talking about what I remember.

First, the temple. The Nauvoo Temple is amazing. It’s much larger than version 1.0. The craftsmanship on it is beautiful and meticulous. There is a large sun stone out the front on the ground, it felt more like going to a park than it did a temple. Once inside, it was a temple again. There is a large chapel that you can see from the foyer. This temple was constructed with similar plans to the original.

Next is the Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears is the road that the saints followed as they left Nauvoo. It now has markers along it that show different comments and feelings as they left the town. Walking down the road you can turn around to see the temple in the distance. When I think about it I envision a burning temple and hundreds of awful people just beating the saints as they were forced to leave. This would have a been a terrible time for the saints. I look on moments like this in the history of the church and can only see this as further evidence of the truth of the gospel. If it was not true, Satan would not need to fight against it so hard.

Last was the Mississippi River. The river is huge. We have no rivers in Utah that can be compared to the size of the Mississippi River. In some places it’s over a mile wide. The place we were at had a lot of lily pads on the edge of the river. I guess I don’t have much to say about that.

Since we were in the area we headed up to Carthage as well to see the Carthage Jail. This is the jail house that Joseph Smith lost his life at. The jail is actually just a house that has a cell in the upstairs area. Prisoners that were not that bad would actually stay in a hold in the normal area of the house and have meals with the family that lived in the jail. Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith had the pleasure of staying in the upper cell. The upper cell consists of a dark stone room just big enough to put a jail cell in. I don’t know the purpose for the jail cell since you couldn’t get out of the room. The windows were about 4 inches wide and there were only 2 or 3 of those. Needless to say I hope to never be in the same position. The room right next to the cell is where the man running the jail took Joseph Smith when he saw the mob coming. I believe he was trying to get him out of the building, but he was too late. The next room is Where Hyrum and Joseph were killed. There is still a bullet hole in the door. The image that Curtis, Natalie and myself are standing at is the window that Joseph Smith fell through after he was shot.

On another note, this trip was about my cousins wedding. I don’t remember much about the wedding, except is was fun. This was the last time that our family was together in such a gathering. I think we had everyone there. I really wish I could remember more about the wedding. I know I had a great time, and would love to go back. I remember people dancing – but that might have just been Vern doing his thing. I think I’ve written enough about our Nauvoo trip for now. If I remember anything else I’ll be back.

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