Submitted by scott on Mon, 10/17/2016 - 11:20

Possible Route

We now drive through the dusty roads of St Jo, the observed of all observers, and presently find ourselves in the steam ferry which is to convey us from the right to the left bank of the Missouri River. The Big Muddy, as it is now called, the Yellow River of old writers, venerable sire of snag and sawyer displays at this point the source whence it has drawn for ages the dirty brown silt which pollutes below their junction the pellucid waters of the Big Drink. It runs like the lower Indus through deep walls of stiff clayey earth and like that river its supplies when filtered they have been calculated to contain one eighth of solid matter are sweet and wholesome as its brother streams. The Plata of this region it is the great sewer of the prairies the main channel and common issue of the water courses and ravines which have carried on the work of denudation and degradation for days dating beyond the existence of Egypt. 

Landing in Bleeding Kansas, she still bleeds, we fell at once into Emigration Road, a great thoroughfare broad and well worn as a European turnpike or a Roman military route and undoubtedly the best and the longest natural highway in the world . For five miles the line bisected a bottom formed by a bend in the river with about a mile's diameter at the neck. The scene was of a luxuriant vegetation. A deep tangled wood, rather a thicket or a jungle than a forest, of oaks and elms, hickory, basswood and black walnut, poplar and hackberry, Celtis crassifolia, box elder and the common willow, Salix longifolia, clad and festooned, bound and anchored by wild vines creepers and huge llianas and sheltering an undergrowth of white alder and red sumach whose pyramidal flowers were about to fall rested upon a basis of deep black mire strongly suggestive of chills fever and ague. After an hour of burning sun and sickly damp, the effects of the late storms, we emerged from the waste of vegetation passed through a straggling neck o the woods, whose yellow inmates reminded me of Mississippian descriptions in the days gone by, and after spanning some very rough ground we bade adieu to the valley of the Missouri and emerged upon the region of the Grand Prairie which we will pronounce perrairey. 


Burton, Richard. 1861. The City Of The Saints. London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts.


Two steam ferries, known as the Bellemont Ferry and the Ellwood Ferry, transported travellers, including Pony Express riders, across the Missouri River from Missouri to Kansas. [5] Reportedly, the boat docked at either Jules or Francis Streets in St. Joseph. [6] A monument, located along the shoreline of the Missouri River in Hustan Wyeth Park, represents the original site of the ferry crossing.

Before the mid-1950s, the Missouri River made a bend to the west at St. Joseph and to the bluffs on the west side of the river.  A good landing site was at the western end of the bend. The ferries that operated there had different names at different times.  The last used name was Bellemont – beginning in 1858 into the early 1900s.  During the latter years, the Bellemont Kansas Steam Ferry Company ran a ferry from Bellemont to Frenchville (refers to French Bottoms, a settlement in the flood plains in Buchanan County, Missouri.)  Although, some early maps show the Bellemont ferry as also running from the wharf at St. Joseph upriver for four miles to the town of Bellemont.  The town no longer exists, but at one time it was the temporary county seat of Doniphan County.