Platte River

Campbell’s party reached the Platte well to the east of the forks, took the South Platte at the forks, and presently crossed to the North Platte. For a hundred miles the country had been gradually changing. The rains all but ceased, there was no more tall grass, drinkable water was becoming scarcer, the long upward inclination of the land had become apparent. The Platte was a thin mud that flowed sluggishly through innumerable islands of cottonwood and willow and might be a mile or more wide. It was the first of Western rivers to beget the standard quips — it was a mile wide and an inch deep and it flowed uphill, it was water you had to chew, it was good drinking if you threw it out and filled the cup with whiskey. Quicksands were added to the day’s hazards; Miller’s sketch is typical but can only imply the quaking and screaming of mules, who were intuitive about quicksands, and the bellowing of Campbell’s bulls.