DURING THEIR TREK FROM IOWA CITY, IOWA to Salt Lake City Utah, in 1856 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in the Martin and Willie Handcart Companies suffered one of the greatest tragedies of early pioneer travelers to the West. Stranded by a blizzard in October and November 1856, the Martin company huddled in a cove for four days, seeking shelter from the snow and cold.
While they waited for rescuers from Salt Lake City, many people died from exposure and starvation. In 1996 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased the portion of the famous Sun Ranch with access to Martin's Cove, the site of one of the most tragic miscalculations on the trails.
The Visitor Center commemorates the trek across the prairies by the Mormon Pioneers. There is also a room containing exhibits and artifacts collected by the Sun family, from the frontier period immediately succeeding the pioneer migrations and Fort Seminoe at Devil's Gate Replica.
Visitors can walk or pull a handcart to the cove. One and two night camping treks are also available. Reservations are necessary.