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Martin's Cove
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Martin's Cove, Wyoming
Location: W of Casper
Governing body: Bureau of Land Management
Added to NRHP: March 8, 1977
NRHP Reference#: 77001383

Martin's Cove is a historic site in Wyoming. The 933 acre (3.8 km²) cove is located 55 miles (89 km) southwest of Casper, Wyoming, in Natrona County. It is located on the Mormon Trail and is also part of the North Platte-Sweetwater segment of the Oregon Trail. The Cove was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on March 8, 1977.


In November 1856, about 500 Mormon emigrants in the Martin Handcart Company were halted for five days in the Cove by snow and cold while on their way to Salt Lake City. That autumn two handcart companies, the Willie and Martin companies, began their journey dangerously late and met disaster in the cold weather of Wyoming. Although the number who died in the Cove is unknown, more than 145 members of the Martin Company died before reaching Salt Lake City. A few days prior to their arrival at Martin's Cove, the company was met by a small rescue party with food, supplies, and wagons that LDS Church President Brigham Young had sent from Salt Lake City, Utah. On November 4 the company and rescuers forded the bitterly cold Sweetwater River and sought shelter in the cove. That evening a powerful north wind blew the tents to the ground. The tents were set up again, but a blizzard brought heavy snow. The company remained in the camp for five days, unable to proceed due to the snow and cold. A number of the company's cattle died there and were preserved in a frozen state. When the weather warmed, on November 9 the company was able to move on toward Utah. With assistance from the original rescue party and from additional rescue parties that met them along the way, the survivors finally reached Salt Lake City on November 30.

In the late 20th Century, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tried to purchase the property.[1] A law passed by Congress in 2002 required the Bureau of Land Management, part of the Interior Department, to negotiate a long-term lease with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has constructed and operates a museum, visitor center, and teaching complex on the site. The land includes areas commonly used as campgrounds by emigrant trains, and other landmarks such as Devil's Gate. In 2006 a settlement following a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union modified the way the site is administered, requiring that the Bureau of Land Management remove religious references from the site and provide another entrance independent of the Visitors' Center, which is allowed to exclude visitors based on their viewpoints.[2]

About 100,000 people visit the site each year, of which a majority are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but increasingly other tourists are visiting the site. It is located near Independence Rock, another key landmark on the trails.


See also

  • List of Registered Historic Places in Wyoming
  • Mormon handcart pioneers
  • Mormon pioneers

External links

Template:NRHP in Natrona County, Wyoming