Two miles to the northwest nestled at the foot of the Sweetwater Rocks, lies Martin's Cove. Here Captain Edward Martin's exhausted company of Mormon handcart emigrants sought shelter from a severe early winter storm in 1856. The Martin Company, low on provisions and traveling late in fall, first encountered winter weather in late October near present day Casper. Of 576 men, women and children, approximately 145 died along the trail before finally reaching Salt Lake City the last day of November. " A condition of distress here meet my eyes that I never saw before or since. The (Mormon) train was strung out for two or three miles. There were old men pulling and tugging their carts, sometimes loaded with a sick wife or children, women pulling along sick husbands, little children six or eight years old struggling through the mud and snow. As night came on the mud would freeze on their cloths and feet. We gathered on to some of the most helpless with our riatas tied to the carts and helped as may as we could into camp...Such assistance as were could give was rendered to all until they finally arrived at Devil's Gate fort, about the first of November.
The winter storms had now set in all their severity. The provisions we took amounted to almost nothing among so many people, many of them now on very short rations,
and almost starving. Many were dying daily from exposure and want of food."
——— Daniel W. Jones, 1856
For more information on Mormon emigrants or the handcart companies, visit the Mormon Handcart Visitor Center located at the old Sun Ranch.