|Shallow water at a ford in Todd County, KY|
I can't imagine driving a vehicle across either of the little creeks I knew as a child -- the Skull and the Bloody, of southwestern Rock County, Nebraska. Those creeks are bordered with wetlands (we called them swamps) that were up to 1/4 mile wide from one side to the other. The water table is very close to the surface in the swamps and hay meadows that adjoin those creeks.
We owned land on both creeks. My dad (and every other rancher who owned a chunk of either creek) had several "flowing wells" at the edges of both swamps. Those artesian wells were simply pipes set in the ground fifteen or twenty feet, or less. Usually, the pipe was inside a cattle tank that collected the water that poured out year round.
To cross either Skull Creek or Bloody Creek and its associated swamp, you needed a built-up roadbed and a bridge. Otherwise you'd sink in deep mud well before you even reached the creek.