In 1856, two emigrant handcart companies and two wagon trains were caught in the October snows of Wyoming. They left too late from England in their 6,000 mile journey to the Salt Lake Valley. Nearly one fifth of these 1200 pioneers perished in the worst overland migration disaster in American history. The tragedy could have been catastrophic had a rescue effort not been launched immediately upon learning of their plight. More than a hundred wagon teams were ultimately involved in perhaps one of the greatest rescue efforts in 19th century America.