Sunday, March 28, 2010

City Urges Travelers to Postpone River Crossing

ST. PAUL - Due to near-record high levels on the Mississippi river caused by a winter of heavy snowfall, St. Paul officials are urging pioneers, prospectors, and other cross-country migrants en route to the Oregon Territory to exercise extreme caution when crossing the river, and if at all possible, wait to see if conditions improve.

"We're expecting the river to crest at over 18 feet, well over flood stage," said J.P. O'Malley, director of Public Works. "At these levels, fording the river is a near-certain death sentence for you and the members of your party. Even caulking your wagon and attempting to float it across the river is bound to result in the loss of food, bullets, and an ox or two."

O'Malley added that the city's fleet of ferries are still in dry dock, and any attempts to hire an Indian guide to aid in crossing will likely be met with a dirty look and grumbling about the noble savage theory.

While officials are not able to offer an estimate of when the river will be navigable, they stress that the situation is temporary. Because it is still early in the year, travelers do not need to worry that this delay will leave them stranded in the Rocky Mountains when the winter blizzards hit.

Meanwhile, travelers are encouraged to take this delay as an opportunity to rest, recuperate from any illnesses picked up on the road, and restock supplies. "St Paul's many trading posts offer goods at prices that anyone, from teacher to banker, can afford. In addition, our friendly citizens are always willing to trade with you, or just chat," said O'Malley. He stressed that dispite the flooding, the city's water supply remains free of cholera and dysentery. However, "should a loved one pass away, you will find several skilled stone-workers in the city who are more than willing to carve any arcane pop culture reference onto a tombstone for you."

Updated river conditions will be published as they are made available. For more information, please contact the City of St. Paul Department of Public Works directly.

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