Fording the Snake River at Three Island Crossing

Sunday, August 23, 2020

The original plan was to spend two nights at Three Island Crossing State Park. Who would’a guessed that every RV park within a million miles is booked for the weekend. We were able to reserve another site within this park for one more night but we’d have to move.

We pulled up to the entrance station and a very nice lady greets us. She notices that we have two reservations both in the more expensive companion sites. She says she had a cancellation and would we like to stay in one site for our three night stay- and it will save us 42 smackers. Heck ya! So we gladly occupy site 73.

Glenns Ferry (1300 souls) was one of the most famous and treacherous river crossings on the Oregon Trail. Pioneers forded the Snake River at the Three Island Crossing until 1869, when Gustavus “Gus” Glenn constructed a ferry about two miles upstream, primarily to expedite freight but also for emigrants. His boat, which could hold two wagons, cut nearly twenty miles from the former route.[4] In 1871 the city of Glenns Ferry was established. Construction of the Oregon Short Line Railroad through the town in 1883 gave the city its first major employer. (Wikipedia)

Today Glenns Ferry is largely dependent on agriculture. Three Island Crossing State Park is 1.5 miles rom the center of town. In that short distance we passed to small cattle farms and a vineyard and a field of row crops. The terrain has changed from flat to rolling hills which only enhances the beauty of this section of Idaho. We stop at the entrance station and check in. We had extended our stay from 2 nights to 3 and had to reserve two companion (double) sites to do that. The lady attendant said a single site had opened up and we were welcome to it. We took it saving us 42 bucaroos over the price of the companion sites. The reason we stayed an extra night is there happens to be half the population of the United States is out enjoying the camping experience this summer, which is said to be a direct effect of COVID-19.

HISTORY- Three Island Crossing was the most important and difficult river crossing in Idaho. Crossing the Snake River was always dangerous, but when the water was low enough to negotiate, everyone crossed who could, to take advantage of the more favorable northern route to Fort Boise. During high water, most emigrants were forced to travel along the South Alternate route into Oregon – a dry, sandy, dusty, and hot trail that wore out man and beast.

On September 11, 1843, William T. Newby “. . . crossed Snake Rive[r]. First we drove over a part of the river one hundred yards wide on to a island, the[n] over a northern branch 75 yards wide on a second island; then we tide a string of wagons together by a chane in the ring of the lead cattles yoak & made fast to the wagon of all a horse & before & him led. We carried as many a[s] fifteen wagons at one time. . . . The water was ten inches up the waggeo[n] beds in the deepe places.”

There are two large campgrounds, a very nice day use area at the park, and a small Oregon Trail visitors center. The camp sites are well spaced, the pavilions and rest rooms well maintained. The campsites are on the circumference of a large grass “infield”. We like that arrangement and so do our mutzos. If there are minuses it would be no sewer available at each site but there is a dump station……. and we are now accompanied by a blanket of wild fire smoke. It seems like every time in the last 3 years that we are in the Pacific Northwest we have encountered heavy smoke. Three years ago the smoke followed us from home through Kali-fornia, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota- even saw it in the orange colored sun in Minnesota.

This post got a little long so I’ll have another post ready for y’all. Ever seen millions gallons coming out of a lava cliff. You will in the next post!

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