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The Mormon Trail: A Photographic Exhibit
Nauvoo, Illinois
Nauvoo, Illinois. Color print by A. Henry Lewis.
By 1845 the Mormon population in and around Nauvoo, had grown to more than 11,000, making it one of the largest cities in Illinois. In September 1845 more than 200 Mormon homes and farm buildings were burned in an attempt to force the Mormons to leave the area. A move to the Far West had been discussed by LDS Church leaders as early as 1842, with Oregon, California, and Texas considered as potential destinations. In 1844 Joseph Smith obtained John C. Fremont's map and report, which described the Great Salt Lake and its surrounding fertile valleys. Subsequently, the Rocky Mountains and the Great Basin became the prime candidates for settlement.

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