In 1847, the pioneer camp led by Brigham Young began following the Platte River shortly after crossing the Elkhorn River. Traveling west, they came to the confluence of the Platte and the Loup rivers, sometimes called the Loup Fork of the Platte, coming in on the Platte’s north side. The Loup was wide with varying depths, and quicksand threatened the lives of those who tried to cross it.
This historical marker commemorates the site of a Loup Fork ferry crossing. The marker is situated in a park in Columbus, Nebraska. | Kenneth Mays
In this regard, historian Ronald Barney explains: “Rather than following the Platte as its course bent southwesterly near present-day Columbus, Nebraska, which would have required a river crossing at the Loup Fork River, the vanguard continued westward by following the Loup Fork on its north bank for approximately 50 miles before breaking due south for nearly twenty miles to reconnect with the Platte River” (see "The Mormon Vanguard Brigade of 1847," edited by Norton Jacob).
On April 23, 1847, the pioneer company of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived at and established camp where it would finally cross the Loup Fork. This site was near present-day Fullerton, Nance County. Various other sites were utilized at other times. The company that followed Brigham Young’s group, for example, crossed the Loup closer to Palmer, Merrick County. To commemorate a later, better-known Loup Fork ferry site, a historical marker and panel have been placed in a community park in the town of Columbus, Nebraska.