Frederick Lander carefully chose this place for the trail to cross the New Fork River. An island once split the river in two channels, allowing emigrants to ford without a bridge or ferry. Danger in the Water
There is a large island in the centre (sic), and the stream on each side is from twenty to thirty yards wide. In the spring it s form three to four feet deep. You had better raise the beds of your wagons. Timber on island and west bank. - Frederick Lander, Emigrant Guide
You are standing on the west side of the emigrant era island looking at the new river channel that cut through the island sometimes during the 1940s or 1950s. The bank on the opposite side was part of the east side of the island.
Frederick Lander underestimated the amount of spring run-off. Most years during high water emigrants had difficulty fording the New Fork River.
I seen several that had their teams drowned and out of of one train a few days ago their were two men drowned (sic). - James McClung, New Fork River, July 19, 1862
Highs & Lows
Water levels vary significantly depending on season and weather in any given year. Unfortunately, high water usually occurred in July when most emigrants has to make this crossing. (photos: July 2, 2011 on
the left, August 18, 2001 on the right)
A Taxing Crossing
In 1862 (a high water year), some enterprising emigrants built a ferry across the Green River 10 miles down river from here below the confluence of the New Fork and Green rivers. The ferry was too expensive for most emigrants, so they crossed here as best they could.
The captain sent a man to the ferry... He found the charge to be four dollars per wagon... and (the) wait two days of our turn to come. - Jane Gould, New Fork River, July 20, 1862.