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The Kansas Heritage server would like to thank Morris W. Werner for preparing this material.

In 1857 Congress authorized survey and construction of the Pacific Wagon Road from Independence, MO, to Honey Lake, CA. Frederic W. Lander was chief engineer for the project, and William M. F. Magraw was superintendent. Location and construction of the Lander Cutoff from South Pass to a point near Soda Springs in 1858 was the most significant accomplishment of this appropriation, but improvements were also made at Mitchell Pass (Scotts Bluff), Ash Hollow, and on the trail south of Marysville, KT. This last improvement was identified as the "Magraw Cutoff" by Henry Nichols and R. L. Poor, members of the expedition. Presumably the BLM Surveys recorded this cutoff, since they were made concurrently with the Magraw improvement. The Surveys show the original trail to the Big Blue River near Alcove Spring, and a second, direct route from the Black Vermillion to the Big Blue at Marysville, which follows the divide around the head of Corndodger and Elm (Mosquito) Creeks. A cross-over is also shown on the Surveys from a point near the head of Alcove Springs Creek to the newer road. It is a recognized fact that many emigrants from Independence left the old road somewhere between the Black Vermillion and the Big Blue and traveled north to the Marysville area after a permanent ferry was established by Frank Marshall in 1852. Magraw may have been responsible for a portion of the newer road shown on the Survey. The fact that this road branched from the original trail south of the Black Vermillion and employed a different crossing may also have some significance.

A corduroy toll bridge was located at the old crossing in the early 1850s, operated by a Pottawatomie mix-breed named Louis Tremble. Although William Darnell, an early settler in the area, says that Tremble was ordered to give up his claim in 1856 when the Pottawatomie Reservation was diminished in size, a toll bridge was still in operation in 1860 according to a correspondent using the initials "W.T.E." Although there is no record that this toll bridge was licensed by the Territorial Legislature, Magraw may have thought it expedient to establish a separate crossing. The two trails parallel each other less than one quarter mile apart about three miles north of the Black Vermillion. Travelers could have easily transferred to the newer road, but for some reason, a separate trail identity was maintained. Perhaps R. L. Poor's notebook of July 2-Aug. 27, 1857, in the National Archives and Nebraska State Historical Society (copy) contains more specifics about the Magraw Cutoff in Marshall County.

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