Saturday, January 15, 2011

Movie Review: ***^More Precious than Gold; The Mormon Battalion

More Precious then Gold is a movie produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1997 marking the 150th year anniversary of the Mormon Battalion.  This movie tells the story of how the Battalion was recruited in Iowa, after the Saints had been expelled from Illinois in the early months of 1846.  Nearly 500 Saints were recruited.  A few women also went with them as laundry maids.  Most of the Battalion members made it to San Diego, having pioneered a wagon trail from Santa Fe to San Diego.  Some of them had returned to find the Saints due to illness.

The Battalion stayed in San Diego for a time.  San Diego was then a village.  Members of the Battalion helped build a court house.  They white washed and did work for te improvement of the community.  They dug 20 wells.

Later that year they were discharged from military service in Los Angeles.  Most returned directly to find the Saints at that time, but about 80 headed North, and went to work for John Sutter.  John Sutter had wanted to build a flour mill and a wood mil, but lacked the skilled labor to accomplish this.  The Mormon Battalion members solved this problem.  Eight members helped build the saw mill in Columna under the direction of James Marshall.  In January of 1848 James Marshall noticed some gold in the trace that they were digging for the mill. This was the beginning of the Gold rush.

Many local men gave up their work and headed to the gold fields.  The Mormons would look for gold in their spare time.  There was an island where gold was discovered, Mormon Island, where many panned and mined for gold.  Many of the Mormons were quite successful.

When the Mormons had finished their work, they took their wages with goods in kind, with which they were going to make their way over the Sierra Mountains to Utah.  In doing so they pioneered a trail, over 160 miles through the mountains, which would become a route for the gold rush minors of 1849.

The movie tells the story of Elias Allen.  He and two companions were murdered as they were scouting for the group.  His pouch of gold was discovered which was sent to his widow.  She was able to use the gold to purchase a wagon for her trip to Salt Lake.

I enjoyed this movie.  It helped me understand the roughness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  What a struggle to get wagons, and build a wagon trail through the mountains.  Today you can travel the route in two hours.  In pioneering the trail, there were days they would only make it a mile.

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