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Posted 27 May 2001   For week ended May 25, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 24May01

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


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