Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Saints at Devil's Gate: Landscapes along the Mormon Trail by Laura Allred Hurtado, Bryon C. Andreasen, John Burton (Illustrator), Josh Clare (Illustrator), Bryan Mark Taylor (Illustrator)

From 1846 to 1869, some 70,000 Mormon pioneers traveled the Mormon Trail, the 1,300-mile route from Illinois and Iowa to Salt Lake City. In 2011, three award-winning Mormon painters decided to visit sites all along the historic route and capture the landscapes in oil. This full-color art book, featuring 52 landscape paintings, presents the fruit of their five-year project. Each painting is paired with journal entries or reminiscences from pioneers who made the journey. Essays by the authors and an artist interview illuminate both the art and the history of the trail.

The book gives written and visual context to the pioneers’ experience of the trail, bears witness to the land as it exists today, and links the experience of pioneers to the challenges of today.

Note: This book was published to accompany an exhibition of the same name at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City. Therefore, distribution of the book has been limited. Copies are available at the museum gift store, at, and at some independent bookstores in Utah.

Also of note:  The Saints at Devil's Gate exhibition at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City is free and open to the public through August 2017.  You can also view it online at

This past summer my family took a bit of a road trip back through Wyoming and South Dakota.  One of the stops we made was at Devil's Gate in Wyoming.  We toured the grounds and museum there, learning about the Mormon pioneers and their trek across the country.  It was amazing to me to learn so much about those people, real people, who gave up so much in hopes of a better life.  Their faith and courage is incredible to me.  I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to accomplish such a thing.  When I was contacted about reading this book, I just knew I had to do it.  I had just been there!

What I love about this book is that each page brings me a new perspective.  Up in the top right corner is a little map of sorts showing me where the painting took place.  Then below that are personal accounts taken from the actual journals of people who traveled through that very place.  On the opposing page is a beautiful scenic painting.  There are fifty-two landscape paintings and they really capture not only the scenery but the weather and spirit of those early pioneers.  What a fantastic labor of love by some very talented artists.

My dad is going to love looking through this book.  He is a history loving guy and he has been to many of the places recorded in this book.  I can't wait to share this book with him.  This would be an excellent gift for anyone who loves history and more specifically the history of the pioneers.

I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read through this book.  It was fantastic! 

-A copy of this book was provided to me for free.  I was under no obligation to review favorably and all opinions expressed are my own.

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