After the Red River, there were nine more rivers to cross on the Chisholm Trail going to Abilene.

Washita River

Also spelt Ouachita. This is described as one of the most silt-laden streams in North America and its waters are opaque brown over an unstable mud and sand bed. It’s famous for being the site of the massacre led by George Custer against a peaceful encampment of Cheyenne Indians on reservation soil.

Canadian River

A slow-moving river bordered by quicksand and red mud flats. After heavy rain, the volume of water in it can be substantial. The origin of the name ‘Canadian’ is unknown although there are various theories.

Oklahoma River

The Oklahoma River
The Oklahoma River

This river runs past Oklahoma City. Unlike the other rivers so far, it’s suitable today for cruises, regattas and fishing. It’s generally less silt-laden, but liable to flash-flooding.

Cimarron River

The word means wild or untamed as of animals, and is thought to derive from a Spanish name referring to the wild sheep which could  be found there. Part of the river can dry up completely, disappearing under the sand of the river bed. Its water is brackish and generally laden with minerals, and also carries red soil.

Salt Fork River

This has been known by a multitude of different names. It originates among salt flats and so salty deposits can be washed into it. It has a recent history of fish kills which may be a result of increased salinity, something which is also enhanced by oil and natural gas drilling.

Chikaskia River

A river known for its huge catfish, as is Salt Fork also. The Chikaskia river is prone to flooding.

Ninnescah River

The name comes from an Osage word meaning ‘good spring-water’ because of the many springs issuing from the Tertiary gravels of its upper reaches. Like the Chikaskia, this river has a tendency to burst its banks after heavy rainfall.

Arkansas River

Arkansas River
Arkansas River

The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi and the sixth-longest river in the United States. At the stage in its course where the cattle would be crossing, it’s a typical Great Plains river with wide shallow banks and a tendency to seasonal flooding as well as seasonal drought.

Smoky Hill River

The last river before Abilene, was named from the well-known buttes within its bend that were landmarks visible a great way off, often through an atmosphere made hazy by smoke. It’s a shallow river with a large number of variant names including Shallow River!

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