7 Church History Sites You Might Not Know About

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You know about the Sacred Grove. You know about Temple Square. But did you know about THESE Church History Sites? Here are 7 spots to add to your destination list.

Joseph Smith Birthplace (Sharon, VT)

In 1804, Lucy Mack Smith and her husband, Joseph Smith, went to live with her parents in Sharon, VT. On a cold winter’s night in December of 1805, Lucy gave birth to a son, Joseph Smith, who would later become the first Prophet of the restored church of Jesus Christ.

In 1905, just before the centennial of the Prophet’s birth, Junius Wells built a 50-foot memorial on the land where the Mack home once stood. As well as the memorial, a visitors’ center, and a memorial cottage also are available for visitors to enjoy.

Bluff Fort (Bluff, UT)

Many people do not know the story of the Mormon “Hole-in-the-Rock” pioneers who are honored at Bluff Fort. Called by the Church, these faithful Latter-day Saints settled what is now San Juan County in the southeast of Utah.

Their trek required the pioneers to cross the Colorado River, known for its steep and rocky cliffs. The pioneers accomplished the 1,300-foot descent by widening the upper section with blasting powder, chiseling off high points in the dugway, creating anchor points directly in the sandstone for large ropes to hold back the wagons, and with pick and shovel building up a roadbed at key points.

You can learn more about these powerful pioneers by visiting the Bluff Fort Visitors’ Center in Bluff, UT.

Mormon Battalion (San Diego, CA)

church history siteLocated in Old Town San Diego, the Historic Mormon Battalion site is an interactive museum and visitors’ center which commemorates the Mormon pioneers who enlisted in the U.S. Army to help fight in the Mexican-American War.

Missionaries take visitors on a video tour where they learn in a fun and interactive way. At the end of the tour, there is an opportunity to pan for gold, look at historic documents, and more!

Jacob Hamblin Home (Santa Clara, UT)

church history siteJacob Hamblin moved to Santa Clara, Utah (about 15 minutes from the Saint George temple), with his family in 1854, obeying a call to serve as the Southern Utah Indian Mission President. During the 1860s his home functioned as the headquarters for the mission.

Today the home is a historic site and is open for public tours, lead by missionaries. The restored home and furnishings reflect their 1860s appearance. Visitors will learn about Hamblin’s lifelong dedication to serving American Indians, and about his family’s life on the frontier. For information about visiting the Jacob Hamblin Home, click here.

Priesthood Restoration Site (Susquehanna, PA)

The Priesthood Restoration Site includes historic landscapes where the Aaronic Priesthood was restored and where the first baptisms of the Restoration were performed. A visitors’ center provides an overview of the sacred events that occurred in this place.

The site also includes reconstructions of the Hale home, where Emma Hale Smith grew up, and Joseph and Emma Smith’s home, where Joseph translated most of the Book of Mormon. If you choose to experience all that the site offers, you should plan on spending between 2 and 3 hours there.

Tours of the homes are lead by missionaries, while tours of the visitors’ center, the priesthood restoration area, the Aaronic Priesthood Restoration Monument, the McCune Cemetery, and the baptismal site are self-guided.

Cove Fort Historic Site (Millard County, UT)

Cove Fort was built in 1867 to protect telegraph lines and travelers between Salt Lake City and settlements in southern Utah. Latter-day Saint families were called to manage the fort, which provided refuge for passing through travelers.

The site includes the Cove Fort, the Ira N. Hinckley home, a garden, blacksmith shop, corral, barn, and bunkhouse.

Today, missionaries lead guided tours of the fort and surrounding buildings.

Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters (Omaha, NE)

handcart statue, church history siteThe Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters exhibits the importance of this major settlement for Latter-day Saint pioneers after they left Nauvoo. At the site, visitors will learn about the Latter-day Saints’ westward migration by wagon, handcart, sailing ship, and train.

Brigham Young spent time at Winter Quarters, ministering to the Saints and helping them prepare to travel west. While there, Brigham received a revelation that became Doctrine and Covenants 136.

Winter Quarters housed the pioneers during the devastating winter of 1846. Due to inadequate shelter and food supplies, people died by the hundreds of malaria, scurvy, dysentery, and other diseases.

Which of these Church History Sites are you excited to visit? For more church bucket list ideas, click here

Madi Wickham is a junior in the Public Relations program at Brigham Young University. She was raised on the beaches of San Diego, California, but has fallen in love with the mountains of Utah. She is a sunset enthusiast and a Trader Joes loyalist who has a special love for the outdoors and traveling.