Bessemer Bend

This was the site of the "last crossing" of the North Platte for many emigrants. Here the river was shallow enough (and the current gentle enough) to allow fording. But just upstream where the river is pinched between the Red Buttes, the valley becomes impassible. Even after the establishment of the "Mormon ferry" (and the later toll bridge) at present-day Casper, parties wishing to avoid the tolls would stay on the river's south side a few extra miles to cross here at Bessemer Bend.

It was at this spot that the Martin handcart company of Mormon pioneers had initially halted in mid-October 1856, waiting out an early blizzard. An advance team of the rescue party from Salt Lake City found the group of nearly 500 camped here in pitiful condition. They could offer little but encouragement to move on, with the promise that help was on its way further up the trail.

The North Platte River at Bessemer Bend

Early morning

The Red Buttes seen from Bessemer Bend

MSR Maps link for this location