Sunday, August 19, 2012

LDS History Tour (part 1)

For much of the year, we researched and planned out a much-anticipated 2-week trip, the details of which became a reality in July. It consisted of flying to New Hampshire, renting a car, and driving back to Utah.

The object of the trip was to visit as many historical landmarks/sites/visitor centers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as we could, as well as to visit some of my relatives in Missouri and to simply experience the United States via the open road.

As a bit of background information, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which we are members, had its beginnings in the United States. So, for us, there are many sacred places in the U.S. We believe that our church has divine authority, stemming from the restoration of the Holy Priesthood-- the same Priesthood held by the ancient apostles. The beginning of this restoration occurred in 1820 in upstate New York, where the 14-year-old Joseph Smith, Jr., received a vision in response to a simple prayer in the woods near his home.

For more detailed information about our church or its history, please feel free to talk to us and to visit the pages linked to above and within the remainder of the post. I will share other information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its history as it pertains to our travels.

**This post covers the first 2 days of our trip. We fit a lot of sites into those 2 days, so it is picture-heavy!**

Lisa & Thomas in Provo, about to leave for the airport.
Our first full day, we left Manchester, NH and drove to Sharon, VT, where Joseph Smith, Jr. was born in 1805.

New Hampshire roads-- all the green was so refreshing!
This is a church in Sharon, VT proper. The houses nearby were a similar style. LOVED it.
We stopped by the Joseph Smith Birthplace monument and visitor center.

This is the site of the home where Joseph was born. The rectangular rock to the left is the original doorstep.
This is a miniature model of what the home may have looked like.
The monument is a 38 1/2 foot granite obelisk, with no marbling, set in a granite base. It was erected here in 1905 (the centennial of Joseph Smith's birth), and transporting the 40-ton shaft at that time required a lot of horses and a few miracles.

The top of the polished shaft reflects the sun with mirror-like brilliance, which can be seen from different locations during the day. The missionaries informed us of this while we were there and found the right spot for that hour.

The visitor center contains the original hearthstone from the home where Joseph was born.

This room in the visitor center focuses on the significance of Joseph Smith's life in the eternal progression of humankind toward the Savior, Jesus Christ.
This LDS Church building is adjacent to the birthplace property. It is a very different style than what we are used to!
We continued our journey after this stop, heading south into Massachusetts...

...and west into New York.

We stayed at a bed & breakfast, and were fed a delicious meal of farm-fresh eggs, hand-picked local blueberries in fresh pancakes, bacon, orange juice, and hot chocolate.

Our second day saw us into Pennsylvania for a brief stop at the Priesthood Restoration Site.

Near here, along the Susquehanna River, the Aaronic (or preparatory) Priesthood was restored by John the Baptist, who appeared to Joseph Smith and his scribe, Oliver Cowdery while they were praying to inquire of the Lord regarding baptism for the remission of sins.

This monument depicts John the Baptist as a heavenly messenger conferring the Aaronic Priesthood on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
Susquehanna River
To get to the river, you have to drive a dirt road alongside a train track. According to the GPS we were driving on the railroad.
Following this adventure, we drove back into New York. We stopped at the Peter Whitmer Log Home, a reconstruction of the home where The Church of Latter-day Saints was officially organized on April 6, 1830. It is located in Seneca County, NY (technically in the town of Waterloo, NY).
An LDS church building that shares the site with the log home. Quite impressive, and very lovely inside.

56 people fit into a small room, like this, on the day The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized.
An upstairs bedroom in the reconstructed Peter Whitmer home.
From here, we headed to Palmyra, NY/Manchester, NY, where Joseph Smith spent most of his growing-up years. It was on his parents' farm where Joseph Smith received the first vision, mentioned above.
The Sacred Grove
Reconstruction of the Smith family home where Joseph's family lived when he was 14.
This is upstairs in the Smith home. This & the room through the doorway are where the angel Moroni would have appeared to Joseph.
This is in an adjacent building, a home constructed by Alvin (Joseph's brother) for his parents to live comfortably in their advanced years.
A pantry, also in the home built by Alvin.
Also in the home built by Alvin.
The "four corners" of Palmyra-- the four churches, on the corners of one intersection, testify of the religious fervor and excitement Joseph Smith, Jr. encountered as a teenager living in this area. The churches are not from that time period, but it is an interesting sight to see nonetheless!
The Grandin building, where The Book of Mormon was first published.
Inside the Grandin building.
We attended an endowment session at the Palmyra temple while we were there.
We ended our day with the Hill Cumorah Pageant (its 75th anniversary) and camped at the Wayne County Fairground.


  1. What a cool trip! I love all the pictures :)

  2. I wish I could give you all the internal commentary I had as I read over this...I'll just say a few things though. I love that you posted lots of pictures, those are always the most fun blog posts to read. The green is definitely refreshing, along with the cool mist in some of the pictures. I think the picture of the Susquehanna River is especially pretty. Breakfast looks delicious! Thanks for sharing your trip :)

  3. Just your mean old dad. I think this is the first time I saw all the pictures posted. Looks like you had a good trip