Crossing at Council Bluffs on the overland trail to the Far West. Frederick J. Piercy sketch.
uring the first stage of their journey in early June 1846 the camp moved on toward Council Bluffs, some 90 miles to the west, leaving behind enough people to improve and maintain Mount Pisgah for the benefit of future Saints going west. On June 13, the camp reached the Council Bluffs area at the Missouri River, and the first portion of the march was nearly over. In the Council Bluffs area the Mormons were not yet in the wilderness. In southern Iowa and eastern Nebraska between 1846 and 1853 the Mormons built at least fifty-five temporary and widely separated communities, farmed as much as 15,000 acres of land, and established three ferries. These numerous communities were established primarily to accommodate the thousands of Mormon emigrants, while they were waiting to cross either the Missouri River, or resting and preparing financially and physically to continue westward to Utah.