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Eventually, almost all of the emigrants had to cross the North Platte River. Only those who started in Council Bluffs and stayed on the north side of the river could escape this relatively arduous undertaking. As the trails matured, the options for crossing the river increased and changed.

Until 1846, most emigrants used an old fur trappers’ ford over the river southwest of what is now Casper in the area of Red Buttes . In 1847, the Mormons established a ferry about eight Mormon Ferry, Painting located in Casper Museummiles downstream from the old ford. The ferry consisted of two large cottonwood canoes fastened by cross pieces and covered with slabs. It was operated by oars and Brigham Young left nine men here to operate it. In 1848, they constructed a second ferry in approximately the same location. In 1849 they moved about 4 miles downriver.The ferry operated until 1852, charging between $1.50 and $5 for passage, depending on the conditions of the river.

Louis Guinard constructed a bridge at the site of the Mormon Ferry in 1859, with the first migration crossing in 1860. This bridge was nearly one thousand feet long and seventeen feet wide. It was supported by 28 stone-filled Photograph of bridge across the first crossing of the North Platte  1869cribs and cost nearly $40,000 to build. It competed with Reshaw’s Second Bridge  for the remainder of the emigration, charging between $1 and $6 depending on river conditions. The site, originally known as Mormon Ferry , became Platte Bridge Station and then Fort Caspar. Abandoned in 1867, "all salvagable material" was used to build Fort Fetterman.

National Park Service Comprehensive Management Plan
The NPS lists these sites, both of which are located within the current Fort Caspar complex, as high potential sites.

There are no known threats. Fort Caspar is listed on the National Register.

Ownership
Public. (City of Casper)

Directions
Natrona County, Wyoming. T34N/R79W

Fort Caspar is located on SR 258 on the west side of Casper in the town of Mills. Signs direct travelers to the site.

Additional Information
At the height of the California Gold Rush, in June 1849, James Pritchard waited three days toHistoric Photograph of a Ferry cross the North Platte on the Mormon Ferry: "175 wagons ahead of us and we had to take our turn." The next year, Thomas Christy arrived at the ferry at mid afternoon, "and got our wagons taken right across. There are four boats running here."

William H. Jackson wrote of Guinard’s Bridge: "We crossed at once over the very finest...bridge yet encountered, a sturdy and workmanlike structure of logs."

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