The Platte River

“The Platte is a wonderful river. For several hundred miles  before it empties into the Missouri it is a very shallow stream, and in many places it has the appearance of being a very sluggish stream. It has a sandy bottom, and the channel frequently shifts from one locality to another. Within sight of Fort Kearney, where the stream ran through the military reservation, there were scores of islands in the early ’60’s. Some called that vicinity ‘The Thousand Islands.’’ In some places the stream is from one to two miles wide, and one can easily wade it except when it is on its annual ‘rise.’

“Along its banks, at intervals of a few miles, in the early days, there were occasional belts of young timber, the cottonwood predominating. There were frequent groves of willows on the islands for hundreds of miles and Willow Island was the name of one of the stage stations about fifty miles west of Fort Kearney. The few resident trappers, pioneers, traders, and ranchmen, followed by the steady march of civilization westward, soon thinned out most of the timber. Farther up the stream, along the north and south forks, was a vigorous growth of sagebrush and cacti, in the early ’60’s, but freighters and pilgrims grubbed out much of the sage-brush for fuel.”