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Tabernacle Choir helps honor 'logging missionaries'

BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. — During its 2013 summer concert tour to the Upper Midwest, members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir have performed for audiences numbering in the thousands in concert halls and arenas. On Wednesday morning, they sang to a crowd estimated at 2,500 in the Trail of Honor Park in Black River Falls, Wis.

En route from Madison, Wis., to Minneapolis, the choir stopped some 400 miles upriver from Nauvoo, Ill., to participate in a ceremony honoring the “logging missionaries” who harvested in the early 1840s more than one and a half million board feet of lumber that was floated on Cunningham Creek to the Black River and on the Mississippi River to Nauvoo. Some of that lumber was used to build the Nauvoo Temple. A commemorative historical marker paid for and donated by the members of the choir has been placed in the park.

Black River Falls Mayor Ron Danielson conducted the recognition event at the Trail of Honor Park. Elder Craig Cardon of the First Quorum of the Seventy addressed the gathering.

He said the decision to build the Nauvoo House, which functioned as a hotel, and the Nauvoo Temple simultaneously dramatically increased the need for lumber, which was scant in Nauvoo. He said reports were sent to Joseph Smith and other leaders about an abundant supply of quality lumber that could be obtained in Wisconsin.

A work party of 32 pioneers traveled to central Wisconsin in September 1841; within the next four years some 200 church members were working in the mills and camps. They ultimately operated four mills and maintained six logging camps to supply the mills.

On Tuesday, prior to the choir’s concert in Madison, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker proclaimed June 18 and 19 as Mormon Tabernacle Choir Days.