May 1, 2010
The history of Nauvoo is enough to fill an entire book, and many books have been written on the subject. I would like to write about the feelings you get when you visit. Each of the places is special. Each unique. Each has its own story.
The Nauvoo Temple is one of the first things you see as you enter the city. Around the curve, and there it is. Gorgeous. Sacred. The original temple was started in 1841. It was dedicated in 1846. I love to think of the original builders, working every tenth day, gathering together to build this amazing structure. I think of the women, who did their part, gathering pennies, mending shirts, making food to serve the builders. They worked hard, they worked together.
The tragedy, is that they had to leave, and as they walked down Parley Street towards the river, many of them gazed back at their beautiful temple. They had worked so hard on it. It was vacated after the saints left, and was destroyed eventually by a fire and then a tornado.
In 1999, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced that a new temple would be built, on the original land. It is an exact replica. The feeling that you get, when you stand on the front steps of the temple now, and gaze out at the river are so strong. As I walked through the temple for the open house, I couldnt help but think, they are here. They are proud. Their temple is complete. I suggest that the first place you visit while in Nauvoo is the temple. You won't be dissapointed.
At Main and Hubbard Street stands the Historic Nauvoo Visitor's Center. It is full of neat information, beautiful artwork, movies you can watch in the theaters ( there are two theaters) and a gorgeous Christus statue that takes your breath away. But the best part of the Visitors Center-- The Monument To Women. A garden full of awe-inspiring statues, depicting some of the roles we women play in this life. You can view a pictorial HERE.
Along with all of the historic homes and businesses you can tour, there are some out of the way spots that those of us who visit Nauvoo often, love to go. One of those places that makes me feel quite emotional and thankful for all I have and all that the pioneers went through, is the Trail of Hope. It is located on Parley Street, in the flats. What is really special about the Trail of Hope, is that during the last session of the temple dedication , President Hinckley asked us to take time to walk down Parley Street. Why is that important you may ask? This was the street that the pioneers walked down, the street each wagon drove down, to the riverfront, to start their adventure west. They left behind everything they had worked so hard on, and their thoughts are posted on beautiful plaques down the trail. As you read each plaque, the quiet surrounds you, the Spirit falls upon you, and you can hear the wagons rumbling down the street. If you close your eyes, you can be there. It is a life changing event, to walk the Trail of Hope and read the plaques. Go HERE to read the quotes.
Another favorite place is the Grove. Clustered amongst beautiful trees are wooden benches set up, for you to sit on. Between 1839 and 1846 the Saints held alot of their church meetings outdoors. This is where they held them. Go sit on a wooden bench, look up and see the trees, and imagine the Prophet Joseph Smith preaching. What an awesome feeling. The Groves are quiet, and peaceful.
There are over 20 restored homes and shops, many with demonstrations of Pioneer Life. You can bake bread, eat a gingerbread cookie, make candles and more. The Community of Christ offers tours through the Joseph Smith Homestead, Mansion House and Red Brick Store ( there is a small fee). The homes and shops that the LDS own, are free. You can take a wagon ride around the town. You can take a wagon ride to Inspiration Point. The town is bustling once again, with joy and busyness. There are going to be two different EFY events in Nauvoo this year. BYU sends different performance groups and more. You can go to a Sunday Sociable if you feel like it. July 6-July 31st you can attend Pageant The kids will love the before show Frontier County Fair, and the parade to the stage. The whole family will feel the Spirit as the actors portray the story of the pioneers. It is truly a site to see.
There is so much to see and do in our beloved City of Joseph. I call it mine, because each time I visit, the Spirit speaks to me in a way that I can't feel anywhere but there. To learn more about Nauvoo visit, http://historicnauvoo.net/
More than anything, I beg of you to pray, and listen while you are there. Close your eyes and imagine. Take away a little bit of the city to hold close to your heart.
JL is the founder of LDS Penpals and has just finished her first book on LDS Homeschooling. You can find her at LDS Forever Families and MOMTOTHREEBABIES