One hardly gives a thought to fording rivers nowadays. We hop in our vehicles and cross on steel bridges to get where we want to travel. But once upon a time, scaling rivers was not so simple.
FORDING RIVERS BY WAGON
In my debut novel, Under This Same Sky, Joseph and Becky Hollister had to cross not one, but two rivers to arrive at St. Louis, Missouri. The first river they encounter, the Kickapoo, was a fairly narrow, shallow body of water, allowing them to ford it by wagon. Not without their challenges, however.
Halfway across the waist-deep river, the wagon snags on a rock and bogs in the mud. Becky must take the reins as hero, Matthew Brody, uses leverage to pry the wheel free. I had such fun writing this scene, in this tale of God’s provision and grace.
But the difficult journey was far from over. The Mighty Mississippi stood between them and their destination
FORDING RIVERS BY FERRY
With no bridge available, they had only a flatboat ferry as a means to ford the wide river. Wagon wheels were removed or secured by heavy, wooden blocks to keep them from rolling. In the 1850’s when the novel takes place, the ferry would have been powered by a small steam engine. Also, to help guide the vessel, men with sturdy poles would have been stationed on both sides of the flat-boat.
In dry years, ferries faced getting snagged in sandbars. While in wet years, the ferry workers struggled against raging river water or brought a halt to the flat-boat ferries until the river receded.
CHALLENGES OF THE PAST
Fording rivers was only one challenge my characters faced. Times were hard in the nineteenth century. We have so many blessings and conveniences that are taken for granted nowadays. Researching the past provides us a window into the past that helps us recognize how blessed we truly are.
~ Name a modern-day convenience you are thankful for that isn’t always considered a blessing. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Cynthia Roemer’s PRAIRIE SKY SERIES: Stories of faith and resilience on the Midwest prairie Inspirational Historical Romance
UNDER THIS SAME SKY ~ BOOK ONE
UNDER PRAIRIE SKIES ~ BOOK TWO
UNDER MOONLIT SKIES ~ BOOK THREE