In the 1840′s and 1850′s thousands of emigrants passed through Marshall County on the Oregon and California Trails. Wagon trains forded the Big Blue River at Independence Crossing, north of the present-day town of Blue Rapids. Nearby was Alcove Spring. Another famous crossing was six miles up the river at the site of present-day Marysville, where Frank Marshall established a ferry in 1852.
On National Register of Historic Places and considered one of the most significant historic sites on the Oregon Trail in Kansas. Discovered in 1846 when the Donner party were delayed by high waters on the Blue River. A 223-acre park offers a self-guided walking tour and interpretive exhibits. From Highway 77 north of Blue Rapids go west on Tumbleweed Road and follow signs for about 6 miles. View Map
Lower Crossing on the Big Blue River
Believed to be an alternate crossing of the river used on the trail in later years. An exhibit explains how emigrants dealt with steep river and creek embankments. Take U.S. 77 west out of Blue Rapids for 3.2 miles. At 7th road (stone marker for Fawn Creek School District) turn north and go 2.9 miles. Park and walk through a small metal gate on your right and across the field about 100 yards to the exhibit. Private property. Please respect it so that others may enjoy this site. View Map
Trails Park, Marysville
Commemorates the trails which crossed the Big Blue River here and the ferry which operated from 1852 to 1864. The full-size replica of a rope ferry was built using locally sawed logs and square nails. A series of plaques explain the ferry and the eight trails: the Oregon, Pike’s Peak-California and Mormon Trails, the St. Joe Road of the California Trail, the military road, the stagecoach and Pony Express routes, and the Otoe-Missouria Trail. Take U.S. 77 south out of Marysville. Immediately after the south overpass turn left onto the levee road and go 1.4 miles. Just before the west overpass turn left onto road leading to park. View Map
Oregon Trail crossing on present-day Highway 77, marked with a modern sign and a silhouette of a wagon and oxen. West of Highway 77 between Quail and Quiver Roads. View Map
Several markers were placed in the 1930′s by local trails historians. By now the markers themselves are somewhat historic. Some of them were made from the red granite boulders left in this area by melting glaciers at the end of the last ice age.
Trails Junction. Two branches of the Oregon Trail converged at a spot near the present-day Marshall and Washington County line. A traveler in 1850 wrote that here “the road was as far as the eye could see over the plains crowded thick with wagons.” On 1st Road and Indian Roads, 2 miles north of U.S. 36. View Map
Oketo Cut-off. A shortcut used by the stagecoach for several months in 1862-63 after the stage line owner had a falling-out with Marysville and decided to bypass the town altogether. Two markers, on 12th road south of Cherokee Road, and on Cherokee Road just west of 11th Road. Map it. Near the 12th Road marker is a gravesite where Louis Tibbets is buried. View Map
Site of the David Smith stage station on the Overland Stage Route. The station and inn “became famous along the stage line on account of Mr. Smith’s management and Mrs. Smith’s culinary accomplishments.” Two miles north of Axtell on 30th Road just south of Granite Road. View Map
Black Vermillion Lower Crossing. Not far from this marker wagon trains forded the Black Vermillion River. In the 1850s a Frenchman, Louis Tremble, operated a rough log toll bridge at the crossing. On Yoeman Road ½ mile west of 18th Road. View Map
A site used by both Native Americans and westward-bound pioneers. Private property. Contact: William Jones, 785-292-4539. Visible from 17th Road south of Yoeman Road. View Map