Dredge in Snake River; Glenns Ferry in background. ISHS #75-2.54

At Three Island Crossing the trail fords the river and proceeds northwest to the Boise River. Some emigrants crossed the Snake River upstream in the Thousand Springs area and joined the main trail to the north of Three Island Crossing. After reaching the Boise River, the trail follows the river to a crossing of the Snake River at Fort Boise. Emigrants that chose not to cross at or near Three Island Crossing continued down the south side of the Snake River along the South Alternate, or Dry Route. The two routes rejoined just west of Fort Boise where the trail again crossed the Snake River.

When emigrants reached Three Island Crossing, they were faced with the decision of whether to risk a river crossing or continue on down the longer and drier south side. Those that did ford the river would later be confronted with additional crossings, one at the Boise River and a re-cross of the Snake River at Fort Boise. Some more enterprising emigrants attempted to float the remainder of their journey to the Willamette Valley.


William T. Newby, September 11, 1843

"We crawsed Snake Rive[r]. First we drove over a part of the river one hundred yards wide on to a island, the[n] over a northern branch 75 yards wide on a second island; then we tide a string of waggons together by a chane in the ring of the lead cattles yoak & made fast to the waggon of all a horse & before & him led. We carried as many a[s] fifteen waggons at one time. We had to go up stream. The water was ten inches up the waggeo[n] beds in the deepe plaices. It was 900 hundred yards acraws."

"William T. Newby's Diary of the Emigration of 1843," edited by Harry N.W. Winton, Oregon Historical Quarterly (September 1939), 4:219-42.

Robert Haldene Renshaw, August 6, 1851

"This morning we hired an Indian to show us the ford. After we saw him cross we determined to try it ourselves. We accordingly commenced making preparations. We crossed two sloughs to the second island. Here we put ox yokes under the wagon loads to raise them and put four yoke of our best oxen to each of the four first wagons that crossed. These four got over safely. We then sent the teams back to fetch the other three wagons. These three got over safe. The loose cattle were to be fetched. These cattle were to be taken to the upper end of the second island. They were soon in swimming water and swam to the sholes where the wagons crossed on. Suffice it to say we all got over our cattle and all safely. This ford is about ¾ of a mile long and runs up the river."

Robert Haldene Renshaw, Diary, OrHi.


View of Three Island Crossing, 1999

Abigail Jane Scott, August 7, 1852

"Eleven miles brought us to the crossing of the river. Emigrants were busy ferrying in their wagon beds. Grass woods and water is much easier to obtain on the other side than this, but a part of our company were afraid to run the risk of crossing and we will be compelled to go down on this side with no better prospect for grass then we have had for one hundred miles."

"Journal of Abigail Jane Scott."

Directions: I-84 to Glenns Ferry.

Must see: Three Island Crossing State Park & Oregon Trail Interpretive Center

Current Observation/Journal Entry:

"Roosevear Gulch—the wagon train came down through the gulch, then up toward a peak, to then drop toward the three islands. There were two trails: one crossed at the islands to the north side of the river and the other followed the river along the rim on the south side to a point and on around. If they crossed here, they went up a draw toward Teapot Dome. Some did try to float from Glenns Ferry to Boise! If you chose to cross, then you crossed the Snake River twice; if you crossed the landscape to bypass the water crossing risk, the route was dusty and long, and offered little grass."



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