By Mark Wright
DUP Collecting Arizona 'Honeymoon Trail' Stories for Book
PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- Many stories from early Mormon history about the
trials, tribulations, and sacrifice of the pioneers are inspirational
and even awe-inspiring. Perhaps none more so than the stories of the
deeply devoted men and women who traveled the "Honeymoon Trail" from
Arizona to St. George, Utah. For a period of approximately 40 years,
from 1880 until the early 1900s, when the Mesa, Arizona Temple was
completed, hundreds of couples made a long and difficult journey so
that they could solemnize their marriages in the St. George Temple of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Today, when people talk about going on a honeymoon, they are
typically planning a trip to some resort or other exotic destination
for rest, relaxation and romance. Not so for the hardy brides and
grooms who traveled through a very inhospitable stretch of desert to
reach the St. George Temple, some 400 miles away. Their "honeymoon"
included a grueling trek through a barren and hostile desert and even
required a water crossing over the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry.
Trips along the Honeymoon Trail were typically undertaken in the fall
so as to avoid the brutal heat of the Arizona sun. Unfortunately,
that would often expose the travelers to the cold snow and bitter
winds of the unforgiving Utah winters. The trips were so physically
and financially taxing that some couples stayed in Utah for a while
to recover their health and earn enough money to return to Arizona.
Initially traveling by horse and wagon, improvements in
transportation eventually allowed travel along the Honeymoon Trail by
train and by automobile. No matter how they traveled, betrothed yet
unmarried couples took steps to ensure proper decorum and propriety
along the way. These steps included bringing chaperones along and
using sacks of grain to separate females from males in the wagons.
Now, after many years of being hidden in the journals and family
histories of their descendants, the stories of these valiant couples
are being brought to light for all to read and enjoy. As part of the
celebration of the centennial of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers
organization, the East Valley branch from Arizona is gathering the
stories and compiling them into a book to be published later this
year, prospectively titled "Arizona's Honeymoon Trail." Norma
Ricketts, a former newspaper writer and editor of the new book, is
very excited about the opportunity to see these fascinating
perspectives presented to the audience of today. "This is a unique
compilation," said Ricketts, "It's a part of Arizona history that
hasn't been told." With more than 150 stories gathered so far,
Ricketts will be able to create a compelling portrait of a most
unusual commitment to a religious ideal.
In addition to publishing the book, the Daughters of Utah Pioneers
group will also place a memorial in Mesa's Pioneer Park this fall on
Oct. 20, to commemorate the honeymooners and to honor their
descendants. Once the stuff of memories, the stories of these brave
pioneers will no doubt present an intriguing look into the past for
those who read the book.
Arizona's 'Honeymoon Trail'
(Phoenix) AZ Republic 20May01 N6
By Barbara Yost: The Arizona Republic
Book to detail treks by Mormon pioneers