With their indepth research of the Santa Fe Trail, the Wet/Dry Routes Chapter felt some sites and trails needed more information. With this in mind the Chapter has placed in prominent locations along the Santa Fe Trail, "Interpretive Markers" to do just that. On these pages you will find a photo of the markers and the text placed on them.
Pike Plaza - Larned, Kansas
The Wet Route
A DIFFICULT CROSSING
The record is replete with reference to difficult crossings on the Pawnee River, often known as Pawnee Fork.
One such fording occurred in 1844 when a Bent-St. Vrain caravan was held up by high water for nearly a month. Detained at the same time was Rufus Sage who wrote,
On April 23, having arrived at Pawnee Fork, we were obliged to remain some four weeks before a ford could be effected, but the dense herds of buffaloes that thronged the vicinity abated somewhat the annoyance of delay.
May 21, 1844
Later in the same year, a caravan captained by Samuel Owens experienced a troublesome crossing.
The second day after, we arrived at Pawnee Fork, and, as the crossing was very difficult, we concluded to turn out, repair the road, and prepare for crossing the next morning. The east bank must be from twenty to thirty feet above the water and very steep – so much so, that we were compelled to lock both hind wheels, hitch a yoke of good wheelers to the hind axle, and all the men that can be used to advantage to assist in holding back and prevent the wagon from turning over. Even with all these precautions, accidents frequently happen, and the descent is so rapid the teams get doubled up and oxen run over.The next morning we began crossing; and when the wagons were about half across, one of Wethered's wagons turned over into the stream. The west bank was steep but not so high as the east one. Yet we had to double teams to get out and make a short and very difficult turn up the stream; so the wagon fell into deep water, and bottom up. All hands took to the water and in two or three hours succeeded in getting dry goods and wagon to camp on the opposite bank. The next two days were spent in opening the goods, and spreading them on the ground to dry, repacking, and loading up.
James J. Webb
Santa Fe Trail Research Site
"E-Mail & Home Page"
Larry & Carolyn
St. John, Ks.