The Mormon Trail 1840’s Christmas Bulb


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Columbus turned the clocks back 150 years this Spring to welcome the Mormon Trail Wagon Train and thousands of its followers. Between 2,000 to 5,000 people, some from nearby and others from foreign countries, stopped at this showcase of history called “Pioneer Heritage Days” April 26-28. When Brigham Young led the pioneer band of Mormans, who preferred to travel alone, west from Winter Quarters in spring of 1847, they had been persecuted and had already lost 600 people’s lives from disease, hunger and hardships. The Morman Trail crossed the Elkhorn River, then joined the Platte near the present city of Fremont and followed the north side all the way through Nebraska. The first group of Mormons reached Salt Lake Valley in late July 1847. During the next 20 years, approximately 70,000 people rode wagons, pushed handcarts or walked along the Mormon Trail. The Mormans helped tame the dangerous Loup River in 1853. American Fur Co. Indian Trader, Peter A. Sarpy, put the first ferry on the Loup near Columbus. A monument stands in the east part of Pawnee Park where Loup Fork Ferry originated. Through June 1859, 1,087 wagons, 20 handcrafts, 5,401 men, 424 women, 480 children, 1,610 horses, 406 mules, 6,010 oxen and 6,000 sheep had crossed this ferry at that point according to the secretary of the Columbus Ferry Co. at Loup Fork, as reported in the Dakota City Herald. Probably the most important spot on the Mormon Trail is the Morman Cemetery at Florence, now incorporated into Omaha, which contains the graves of some 600 emigrants who died at Winter Quarters during 1846-1847. The cemetery also has a magnificent bronze statue by Arvard Fairbanks, unveiled in 1936, to commemorate the Morman pioneers who lost their lives at Winter Quarters. This is the Sixth Edition from the series Memories of Columbus, NE that came out in 1997.