CORYDON, Iowa- August 25th is the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service. In Iowa there are two National Monuments under the National Park Service, Effigy Mounds, and the Herbert Hoover Birthplace are ones many Iowans have visited. But there are two lesser known National Park Service attractions, the Lewis and Clark Trail up the Missouri River, and the Mormon Trail.
One of the biggest Mormon Trail Exhibits on the trail is located at the Prairie Trails Museum in Corydon. This sprawling local museum is made up of three buildings in addition to the main museum.
In the 1970’s the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints put a display and tribute to commemorate the some of the first travelers across Iowa. Also the Church wanted to recognize the spot where a very important hymn was composed.
April 15, 1846 William F. Clayton composed the song “Come,Come Ye Saints,” at the Locust Creek Campsite, which is located 13 miles southeast of Corydon. Clayton composed the song, after learning of the birth of his son, back in Nauvoo IL.
At the spot where the camp was once located you can see a cornfield, with a marker across the road by Tharp Cemetery. Those buried there were not Mormons, but followed later along some of the trails carved by some 500 wagons, and unto 3,000 people coming across Wayne County heading west.
“They want to put an exhibit that would commemorate the song it became a very important anthem for the Mormons,” said Brenda DeVore of the Prairie Trails Museum in Corydon, she is also a Board Member of the Iowa Mormon Trails Assoc. “So they wanted to put an exhibit that would commemorate the song.”
The Mormons had decided to flee persecution in Nauvoo IL, after their leader, and found Joseph Smith, and his brother Hyrum were killed by an angry crowd while in jail in Illinois.
“Wayne County had less than 300 people ended by 1850 and by 10 years later they were almost 6000,” said DeVore.
The National Park Service still works with local museums, like the one in Corydon to help keep adequate signs to the Mormon Trail stops.
If you would like to visit the Prairie Trails Museum, check out their website for hours or visit the Iowa Mormon Trail Association.