The Vieux Crossing
A few miles to the northwest, the Oregon-California trail crossed the
Vermillion Creek heading toward the Pacific from the "jumping off" towns
on the Missouri River.
The crossing was named for Louis Vieux, a Potawatomi leader of French and Native American lineage who established a toll bridge there in the 1850s. Charging a dollar per outfit, he is said to have made as much as $300 per day during busy times. In addition, he supplied emigrants with hay and grain.
As early as 1819, Thomas Say, zoologist for Stephen H. Long's expedition, camped near the crossing. John C. Fremont came in 1842, guided by Kit Carson, and in 1846 the ill-fated Donner party passed by. Beginning in 1853 the military road from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Riley crossed here, as did the stage line to Denver in 1859. Horace Greeley, a famous newspaper editor and onetime stage passenger, described a meal he had at the crossing as "the hardest I ever paid half a dollar for."
In 1849 tragedy struck when cholera took the lives of emigrants camped at the crossing. They were buried on the creekbank, as were others who died on the trail. On a nearby hill the graves of Louis Vieux, some of his family, and other early settlers can be seen in the Vieux Cemetery.
Erected by Kansas State Historical Society & Kansas Department of Transportation