7 Facts About the North Platte River That Will Boggle Your Mind
Living in Casper, most of us drive past the North Platte River daily or weekly. Some fish its banks in waders with fly lines. Others float down the refreshing waters during the summer heat. People walk their dogs or ride bikes down the trails. However, the significance of the river to Casper is beyond measurement. In many ways, the North Platte River is our past, present, and future. That's WY we put together this list of mind-boggling facts about the North Platte River.
Humans have lived near the North Platte for a Long time
Humans have been living off the Platte River for over 11,000 years. This is around the time when pottery was discovered and way before Moses was lost in the desert. WyoHistory.org wrote about some of the evidence of human habitation near Guernsey.
The river travels a long distance.
The North Platte River runs over 700 miles traversing through Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska. It is the 23rd longest river in the United States. If you stretch that distance out, it is nearly as far as Casper is to Las Vegas.
Crossing the North Platte was deadly for some.
Crossing the North Platte River was treacherous during the pioneering days, WyoHistory.org wrote. Before bridges were built, travelers would have to swim across with their livestock. Or they would bind their wagons together to ferry the river. Many travelers never made it to the other bank.
The river gives us power and places to boat, swim, and fish.
There are seven dams along the North Platte River. They create our favorite lakes and reservoirs. They dams are at Semione, Kortex, Pathfinder, Alcova, Grey Reef, Glendo, and Guernsey. Not to mention they help keep the lights on.
Casper would not be if not for the North Platte River.
Besides the natural resource of water, it all started with the Platte Bridge Station. It was a military outpost and a critical junction for the army, trappers, settlers, and homesteaders. This outpost later became Casper. The town was named after Lt. Caspar Collins, who died defending the bridge.
The river flows from Wyoming mountains peaks to the Gulf of Mexico.
The waters of the North Platte River start in Walden, Colorado. Then it flows across Wyoming and parts of Colorado into Nebraska. The North and South Platte Rivers join to become the Platte. From there, it flows into the Missouri River, the Mississippi, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Crossing the North Platte River was a lucrative business.
Transportation is big business. From the days when people paid to have their wagon ferried across the river to bridge keepers charging a toll to pass, there is money to be made. During the gold rush, one of the more prominent places to cross the North Platte River was Reshaw's Bridge. You can see a reconstruction of the bridge in Reshaw Park in Evansville. It was reported that the bridge cost $40,000 to build. An estimated 3000 wagons used the bridge in one single season, according to WyoHistory.org. At $6 a pop, the profit margins of a 12-year bridge are around $176,000.