Skip Navigation

Heritage: What a Sight!

Time Frame

3 class periods of 45 minutes each

Group Size

Large Groups

Life Skills



Lauren Tanner


The students will learn the physical features and location of major landmarks along the pioneer trail. These landmarks will be placed on individual and a large class map of the trail.


  • Large map of the Mormon trail
  • a paper model of a covered wagon
  • Internet access
  • age appropriate research sources
  • student resource guideline
  • camera (Polaroid, QuickTake digital, or standard)

Background for Teachers

The teacher needs to be familiar with the location of the Mormon Trail, the states and the landmarks located on that trail. The major landmarks include: Winter Quarter, Elkhorn River crossing, liberty pole camp, Loup River ford, Mormon Island State Recreation area, Fort Kearney, Sand Hill Ruts, Chimney Rock, Register Cliff, Porter's Rock, Fort Caspar, Independence Rock, Split Rock, Martin's Cover, South Pass, Parting of the Ways, Green River Camp, Fort Bridger, Yellow Creek Camp, Big Mountain.

Students will be required to complete a research paper and need to be able to do the following Big 6 skills:

  1. Understand the task definition
  2. Determine possible sources
  3. Locate sources and information
  4. Extract information from a source
  5. Present information
  6. Judge the product

As the students present the information,the landmarks should be placed on the map. As the wagon train reenactment progresses, the students should plot the progress on the map.

The book, 'The Gathering of Zion' has a portfolio in the center which describes the landmarks along the Mormon trail.

Intended Learning Outcomes

The students will learn the names of the landmarks along the pioneer trail and why these landmarks were used as guides along the trail. With a partner, the students will research the physcial features of the landmarks and present an oral presention to the class. After the presentations, a landmark symbol will be drawn on a large class map of the pioneer trail.

Instructional Procedures


Go on a local 'landmark' walk of the neighborhood or community. As the children start to identify 'local landmarks' take a picture of the feature. When you get back to the classroom, make a bulletin board featuring the 'Local Landmarks' that include the picture and a short caption about the feature.(location, physical features, uniqueness) Have a discussion of what makes these features a Landmark. What is a historical landmark? In 1997, what landmarks are used to guide people to a Utah location? In 1847, what landmarks help guide the pioneers from Iowa to the Great Salt Lake Valley? Tell the students they will be a part of the re-enactiment of the Utah pioneers from Iowa to the Great Salt Lake Valley via the Internet program, the Heritage Gateway.

Refer to the Essentail Questions
Create the 'Local Landmark' bulletin board by placing the pictures and the captions that explain the feature on a map of the local neighborhood or community. Discuss how these landmarks are used by people to guide them to a specific location in the neighborhood or community.

Put up a large wall map of the Mormon Trail and the states it crossed from Council Bluffs Iowa to the Great Salt Lake Valley in Utah.

Place a covered wagon at the start of the trail and begin the discussion about the first landmark, The Mormon Ferry or 'gateway into the wilderness'. Ask students to describe how a ferry was used by the Pioneer and predict the features of a ferry and how it was operated on the rivers. Then show a picture of a ferry and discuss the importance of a ferry to the pioneers.

Continue discussing the map of the Mormon Trail and the landmarks that the pioneers could see. ( Elkhorn Ferry,Chimney Rock, Scott's Bluff, Ft. Larmaie, Laramie's Peak, Independence Rock, Devil's Gate, Church Butte, Fort Bridger, Castle Rock, Monument Rock, Witches Rocks, Devils Slide, Weber River, Emigration Canyon and the Great Salt Lake). Students will predict on their individual maps where these landmark were located on the trail.

Select a partner and a landmark to reseaarch. Students will have class time to complete the landmark research. Research will be organized into a five minute oral presentation. Give each student a research guideline.

Students will present an oral presentation using multimedia aids. Summarize the unit by using links from the Heritage Gateway site tp show pictures of the landmarks. (Project image from computer monitor to TV monitor using a VC adaptor)


The students may personally present the local historical society, Utah Historical Society, or a local museum with a book of the pictures compiled from the walking field trip for 'Local Landmarks'.

Assessment Plan

Follow the assessment rubric for the research and oral presentation. A true/false, multiple choice or matching final quiz about the physical features, events, or locations related to the landmarks along the Pioneer Trail.


Stegner, Wallace The Gathering of Zion, The Story of the Mormon Trail (University of Nebraska Press, )

Created: 03/01/1997
Updated: 02/01/2018