Brigham Young led the first group of Mormons west from winter quarters in Nebraska in 1847, finally settling in the Salt Lake Valley. When these pioneers crossed the river here, they left nine men to operate a ferry. This ferry served fellow Mormons as well as Oregon and California bound emigrants and provided much needed money and supplies for the settlements in Utah.
In October of 1856 Natrona County's greatest tragedy began at what is now Bessemer Bend and continued to Martin's cove near Devil's Gate. The sixth Mormon Handcart Company, under Captain Edward Martin, struggled through an early Wyoming blizzard. Over 135 persons perished in this 50 mile stretch.
Of handcart travel, Chislett's narrative states, "Many a father pulled his cart, with his little children on it, until the day preceding his death. I have seen some pull their carts in the morning, give out during the day, and die before the next morning."