Wagons Across the North Platte

“There were those [at the North Platte Crossing], as at any ferry, who could not or would not pay the price and who used self-constructed substitutes. To these novices the strong west wind was an additional hazard—a twin current flowing above the river. It caught the rumbled in the capacious bellies of the white-topped wagons, swelling them into sails that flung the rafts downstream. Pulling men were dragged into the current. Ropes snapped. Rafts capsized. . . .One experience was enough to teach everyone present to remove the wagon tops during a ferry trip in a windstorm; but the next playful breeze, sneaking up after a two- or three-day calm, would catch a new group unprepared.”