Oregon Trail pioneers often forded the Big Blue River

By Caroline Cavanaugh |

Individuals who played The Oregon Trail in elementary school were often faced with options when they reached a body of water. They could either try to cross on foot, caulk and ford their wagons across, pay a Native American to help them or splurge for a ferry ride.

However, the pioneers of the mid-1800s were often faced with fewer choices. For example, most trailblazers who reached the Big Blue River were commonly given no option but to ford their wagons to the other side.

Most parties crossed the Big Blue River at Independence Crossing,  which is located north of what is now the town of Blue Rapids, according to the Marshall County Travel and Tourism website.

In 1846, the Donner party found themselves unable to cross the river and happened upon nearby Alcove Spring. Following this discovery, travelers on the Oregon Trail often stopped to carve their names in the rocks near the stream and waterfall that are located here, according to Kansastravel.org.

Many gaming enthusiasts pay homage to the adventurous spirit of pioneers who crossed the Big Blue River in their strategies. For example, Wikia Gaming suggests that players of The Oregon Trail should only take a ferry if the river's waters are higher than 2.5 feet.



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