Florence, Omaha and Council Bluffs—
A quick primer on this area may be of help in your understanding of the area and it significance to the LDS Church and the Sorensen family as well. When it was decided that the saints, leaving Nauvoo for the West would winter here and wait for the 1847 season to cross the plains and Rocky Mountains, the camp that came to be known as Winter Quarters was created. After the Mormons left for the Great Basin and over time Florence was the proper or given name given for this same area around Winter Quarters.
Florence was later swallowed up by Omaha, Nebraska, and as such the three places (Winter Quarters, Florence, & Omaha) are for most people the same place, on the western side of the Missouri River. Florence is a term that is used to define a neighoboorhood in Omaha proper presently. So in proxsimity, they are all very close, but are seperate and dinstinct places.
— Earl Map of the Council Bluffs and Omaha Area —
Council Bluffs is on the eastern side of the Missouri River, in Iowa. Ferries were constructed here to transfer the emigrants across the Missouri River, to the Florence & Omaha, Nebraska areas on the west side of the river. The title (left side) of the above map, is North, Council Bluffs on the east and Omaha and Florence on the western bank of the Missouri River.
This area is also the home of the Union Pacific Railroad and as the railroad moved west in the mid 1860's, the wagon route of the emigrants grew shorter and shorter. After May, 10th, 1869, there was no need for oxen and wagon trains on the Great Plains, in the sense that our Sorensen family used them in 1857
The above painting Crossing the Missouri River is the artists rendition of the crossing the Missouri River on the last portion of the first leg of the overland wagon trail from Iowa City, Iowa to Florence, Nebraska.
The Nicolai Sorensen family spent a few days here at Florence, as it was known then, (Omaha now) in the latter part of June, 1857, the main Latter-day Saint staging point for crossing the plains at this time. Here they rested their tired muscles and animals, made repairs and adjustment to their new wagon and outfit. The Nicolai Sorensen family was in the Matthias Cowley Company. Here they were able to unyoke the oxen for the first time since they left Iowa City, a distance of some 300 miles.