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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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The Story of Kansas City, Kansas

"Wyandot Ferry"

Today you can ride across the Intercity Viaduct from Kansas to Missouri and look down upon the factories and railroad tracks beneath.  The Wyandots crossed from one side of the river to another by a slow, and often uncertain, means.

The council established a ferry in November 1843.  The was the first public utility in Kansas.  For ten years it was the main gateway into the state.  The ferry had its landing place here at just about the spot where the Intercity Viaduct starts east to Missouri.

Pulleys running on a cable drew the ferryboat back and forth across the river.  Only one team and wagon could be carried on a trip.  Sometimes people had to wait their turns for hours on the river bank.

Each year the Wyandots elected a ferryman and paid him out of the common fund.  Indians could ride free, but outsiders had to pay.  There was a lot of trouble connected with running the ferry.  Good men were hard to get.  Sometimes the ferrymen would drink while on duty.  If they did not want to cross at a certain time, they would not oblige the passengers.

Once the ice caused a boat to break loose and float down the river.  Another time the ferry was stolen and not recovered for several weeks.  Then the people had to go without mail or cross the river in skiffs until the ferry was back on duty.

Once a Mrs. Wolcott and some of her friends wanted to go visiting in Missouri.  They rode their horses to the ferry landing and crossed to the other side.  There they mounted the horses again and proceeded through the woods of what is now the Central Industrial District.

After a visit with their friends, they returned to the ferry.  It was later than they realized and the ferryman had locked up for the night.  No amount of pleasing by the women would induce him to unlock and start again.  Wondering how they could spend the night alone in the woods, they began to cry.  That was too much for the man.  He rowed them across in a small boat to the landing where their anxious husbands were waiting.  The next day the men had to go across the river to get the horses and bring them back.

The First Church

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Contact the History Webmaster - Patricia Adams

History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012

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