Last Friday I blogged about the Mormon pioneer handcart companies of 1856 (The Mormon Handcart Experiment). I wrote:
The last two companies, the Willie and Martin companies, met with tremendous tragedy. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 222 people perished due to equipment failure and early snow storms. Brigham Young’s handcart plan was quickly abandoned.
I was wrong. The use of handcarts continued with five more LDS companies crossing the plains over the following four years. All of these crossings were successful. After this the handcart experiment was replaced by a sort of shuttle service. The LDS web site (“The story of the Handcart Pioneers”) explains,
In 1861 the Church replaced the handcart system with what is referred to as the “down and back” wagon trains. A continuation of the Church’s commitment to help the poor, these wagons traveled east, hauling supplies, then returned with immigrants.
“It was a Church-operated system of teams and wagons donated by the congregations,” says Glen M. Leonard, historian. “As the railroad was being built, immigrants would ride the trains as far as the trains went, then wagons would pick them up — like a shuttle service.”
This operation continued until the completion of the railroad.
I’m sorry for the error.