~By Brenda

In a previous post, I wrote about visitors being welcome to worship with us at any of our chapels worldwide. But our chapels are far from the only places visitors not of our faith are welcome. At lds.org there are lists of many different places to visit. Visitors are welcome to tour our Temple grounds, Visitors Centers, Pageants and Church History sites.

Just this weekend I visited the Mormon Battalion historic site located in San Diego, California, USA.

I was eager to include this site in my vacation plans because my brother-in-law was so enthusiastic in his description of the site as he had just visited with a church group the week prior. As we entered the beautiful hacienda style building a woman dressed in pioneer clothing welcomed us and ushered us into a tour. The first room of the tour was one of my favorites. What appeared to be old time black-and-white photographs hung on the wall actually come alive to share their story about coming across the plains and then agreeing to enlist in the U.S. army upon request from the President of the United States and Brigham Young.

The following four media rooms were designed to highlight aspects of the Battalion’s trip from the call for service in Council Bluffs through various points of interest in Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico and Arizona and on to San Diego. The total trip was around 1850 miles and is the longest recorded military march in history. The second room in the tour is a movie designed to introduce us to the Mormon Battalion backstory. Next we went into a re-creation of a supply room in Fort Leavenworth where we learned about what provisions the Battalion was equipped with on their march. Another door led us to a media room with a campsite theme where the film story continued to show us the tedious conditions endured by the Battalion as well as the “Battle of the Bulls.” The final media room is a replica of the old brick court house built in San Diego. Mormon Battalion members brought brick making and wagon trail blazing skills to the Southwest. At the end of the tour families took an old time photo and emailed it to our friends and printed a couple out at no cost as well as browsed memorabilia from the pioneers themselves. Outside, my nephews panned for gold, used a hand pump and learned about brick making.

All the members of my tour, ages 2 years to 84, loved it and were really impressed by the use of new media. I would go back again tomorrow I loved it so much.

All of the church historic sites, pageants and visitor centers are available free of charge. If travel is cost prohibitive this summer you can still learn about the Mormon Battalion via a virtual tour through BYU’s Virtual Tours on YouTube.

While at the BYU Virtual Tours YouTube site , feel free to take tours of many different LDS church history sites because visitors are always welcome!