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Historic Trails Park & Rope Ferry Replica

Historic Trails Park

The Historic Trails Park is located not far from the site of an early river crossing, and has a full-sized replica of a rope ferry.

Many trails converged to cross the river at this point, including the Oregon and California Trails, the Mormon Trail, the St. Joe branch of the California Trail, the Overland Stagecoach Route, the Pony Express Route, and the Military Road. Later the Otoe Indians used the Otoe-Missouria Trail when they were forced to move from this area to Oklahoma.

In 1852, Francis J. Marshall, a Missouri freighter and hotel owner, came out to establish a ferry. On a knoll a short distance from the present-day Trails Park, Marshall built a log trading post, a few cabins, a blacksmith shop, stables and corrals. At times hundreds of wagons with thousands of pioneers were camped in this area, waiting for their turn to cross. Pioneer death from illness was common, and diaries tell of many graves near the crossing. Marshall charged up to $5.00 per wagon and 25 cents per head of livestock to use the ferry. The ferry operated until 1864 when the first bridge at Marysville was built.

The rope ferry is a replica of the craft used by pioneers, Pony Express riders and other trails travelers. A rope crossed the river above the ferry, which rode a pulley back and forth. By turning the wheel, another rope would shift the ferry into or away from the swift river current pushing the ferry across the river.

DIRECTIONS TO THE PARK: Go south on Highway 77 out of Marysville. Turn left immediately after you cross the south overpass. Follow this levee road around the trains for 1.5 miles. Turn left before you go under the west overpass (Highway 36), and follow the road into the park.