The Missouri River near Council Bluffs

From www.omaha.org: "Mormons held a public meeting the day after they arrived at the Missouri River and decided to build a ferry of their own. Costs of moving so numerous a company by the Sarpy-owned ferry some nine miles south down the river was prohibitive. Sarpy's ferry was a dingy and could not haul large loads across. They met with Peter Sarpy and got an agreement to build the ferry. About 100 workmen of varying skills were called, on a volunteer basis, to build the ferry and improve the river sites for ferrying. In three weeks they had constructed a ferry capable of carrying three loaded wagons with oxen harnessed. Dugways were cut into the banks on both sides of the river so the ferry could be loaded and unloaded without the force of the river disturbing operations. A great V-line rope was stretched across the river from dugway to dugway and far upstream with point of the "V" on the Iowa side. The eastern side dugway was north of the western side dugway. The upstream leg of the V was north of the eastern side dugway and was attached on the western side. After the ferry was loaded on the eastern side it was poled out of the dugway and the force of the river propelled it down the southern leg of the V until it reached the dugway on the western side. It then was poled into the dugway and unloaded. Then it was poled out of the dugway and pulled upstream by horse or ox team to the most northern end of the V. There it was attached to that leg of the V and the force of the river carried the flatboat back along the rope to the eastern side dugway. This ferry was situated approximately at Council Point where present day Council Bluffs is now of the east bank of the Missouri and crossed to about where "L" street in present day Omaha on the west bank. It went into operation approximately July 1, 1846. This location was later referred to as "the original" (or sometimes the Middle Mormon Ferry). It was later moved north approximately October 1, 1846 to facilitate movement to Winter Quarters. The North Mormon Ferry was located about where the Mormon Bridge is on I-680. A small community on the Iowa side of the north ferry was established called Ferryville."

Map of the area around Winter Quarters,
including Ferryville
(Ensign, August 2002)