“Information of the great discovery of gold in California had reached the States, and large companies were formed for the purpose of supplying the gold diggers with food and clothing and implements of every kind for digging, etc…In fact, these persons procured just the things they would have done, had they been forming companies purposely for relieving the Saints, and had they determined to do it as handsomely as unlimited wealth would allow.
“When these companies, after crossing the plains, arrived within a short distance of Salt Lake City, news reached them that ships had been dispatched from many parts of the world, fitted out with goods for California. This threatened to flood the market. The companies feared that the sale of their goods would not repay the expense of conveyance. Here was a ‘fix’—the companies were too far from the States to take their goods back, and they would not pay to carry them through, and when to this was added the fact, that the companies were half crazy to leave trading, and turn gold diggers themselves, it will easily be seen how naturally the difficulty solved itself into the decision which they actually came to—‘Oh here are these Mormons, let us sell the goods to them.’ Accordingly they brought them into the Valley, and disposed of them…at least at half the price for which the goods could have been purchased in the states.” (Arrington, p. 67)
In addition, the trail from Fort Laramie, Wyoming to Salt Lake City was littered with abandoned items, which Mormon teams collected for nothing. Howard Standsbury reported collecting:
- 11 broken wagons
- bar-iron and steel
- large blacksmiths’ anvils and bellows
- large grindstones
- cooking-stoves “without number”
The Lord was not simply interested in getting the pioneers out west. He was interested in making saints of the pioneers. The difficult process of gathering to Zion provided a refining process. Not all made the cut: Scattered along the Mormon Trail are not only the graves of those who died getting to the earthly Zion, but many casualties of spiritual infirmities. Some saints gave up and stayed behind or turned back along the way. Those who pushed through the challenges of conversion, persecution and migration could weather any storm. Part of this refining process was brought about by the great effort required of the saints to rescue each other and bring all to Zion while in poverty themselves.