Mormon Trail Maps
One of my booth neighbors at RootsTech was the gregarious Frank Nielsen of Mormon Trail Maps. I admired his gorgeous maps on display. Because I love maps I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk to him. Frank is a very likable guy, and I enjoyed talking with him. I asked about his maps, and he told me an interesting story about how he came to be in this business. In full disclosure, I have received no remuneration for this article (although I wouldn’t say no to a free map!).
Nearly 40 years ago, Frank had the idea to produce a beautiful color map of the Mormon Trail from Nauvoo, Illinois to present-day Salt Lake City, Utah. His idea came to fruition in 2014 when he produced the Mormon Trail Map. He launched his website at pioneermaps.com and began offering maps for sale. The maps are beautifully done and would make a fine addition to anyone’s living room or study. But he also has functional versions that fold-up to take on your next LDS Church History Tour.
One of his inspirations is an original 1899 pictorial map depicting the original route taken by Brigham Young’s vanguard company in 1847. Frank inherited this print from his grandfather, John Franklin Nielsen. “Grandpa Frank,” as he was known, purchased the map brand new in 1899. His own grandparents had came from Denmark in 1866 along a slightly different route. When his namesake, Frank Nielsen, was 25 years old, he inherited the map and it filled him with wonder.
Maps for Sale!
Decades later we can now benefit from the work he has done. He offers two versions of the map. First, is the “Historic Wall Map.” This is a full-color reproduction of the 1899 pictorial map that was his inspiration. He sells framed, canvas, or laminated paper versions of this artistic map on his website (Click here for more information).
The second version is a fold-out, waterproof map for sale for only $12. These functional maps are no less beautiful than the wall art version. They also include a great deal more information. Frank traveled the full length of the trail collecting first-hand knowledge of the locations and experiences of the Mormon Pioneers.
The first side of the map shows the 1899 version of the map below a modern map view with the route overlaid across today’s modern highway system. The backside has detail views of many of the significant places along the trail including Nauvoo, Winter Quarters, Chimney Rock and Emigration Canyon.
If you plan to take a Church History trip anytime soon I would highly recommend getting a copy of the map from pioneermaps.com. Even if you are a few years out from that roadtrip get one now to begin studying and planning your trip! I would also suggest you visit my friend at Living Heritage Tours!
I am glad I got to meet Frank Nielsen at RootsTech, and wish him luck in his quest to help others learn about and appreciate the early Mormon Pioneers.
Please share your experience of visiting historic places along the Mormon Pioneer Trail.