Hood County News – September 23, 1971

Transcribed by Mary Maxwell

During the early 1800’s, travel of any distance was so difficult and slow people seldom left their towns or farms. Even for a short distance, it was almost impossible. As late as 1890, Americans traveled only an average of 200 miles in a year away from their home communities. Today, the average American travels 4,000 miles per year, 3,600 by car.

Indian trails were used as early roads in the United States and they were mere foot paths. Pioneers made their way through the forests by notching the trees for future guidance. People followed these blazed trails on foot or horseback, but there were no hard roads so wagons and coaches were not used until the 1800’s. Thousands of settlers came over the land in the early 1800’s, so many new trails and roads were needed. The early roads were made more passable when the men cut trees and placed the logs side by side over mud holes.

The streams could be crossed at shallow places called fords, hence the saying “ford the stream.”

Rivers had to be crossed by ferries, which were put up along the rivers at frequent intervals. One of these ferry stations is still located on the Riverside farm of Mrs. A.B. Crawford. It has been preserved through the years and is in its original state. According to information from A.H. Rylee, the log cabin was used as the ferry master’s office, and the river boat captain was his uncle, John Rylee.

There was another ferry crossing at Stockton Bend but it was not used as frequently as the one nearer town. The land along that section of the river belonged to Y.J. Rylee and was later divided. John Rylee was given the part which the ferry office was on and Mrs. Ed Aiken inherited the land just east of this. The rock house still standing on this land near the old river bridge, is more than 115 years old.

As the years went by and sections were more thickly settled, roads of gravel or boards were built. These were called “turnpikes” and because of the difficulty in their construction, people were charged “tolls” for their use. These much traveled overland trails were used for many years.

In a notation from the December 26, 1874 Granbury Vidette “the hill leading to the ford needs to be worked on very bad. It is almost impossible for teams to pass that way.”