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MC Dispatch

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Motorcycle Touring by River Ferry

ferry 1 

I have been a touring motorcyclist since 1971 when I bought a new Honda CB750. Over the years I have been fortunate to tour in 46 of our 50 States. Needless to say I have seen many of the great wonders of this land either on purpose or by accident. I enjoy the motorcycle ride if it be a short ride for breakfast or a cross country trip just for the sheer pleasure of riding.

Two years ago I started a project for my travels: motorcycle touring by river ferry. On one of my tours in Kentucky I found seven river ferrys. I rode six of them and would have rode the seventh but it was closed. Maybe next trip.

ferry 2

I found ferrys that serviced anywhere from six to 300 vehicles per day depending on location and time of year. One ferry that I located had been in service at the same crossing since 1785. No mistake here, 1785. Talk about history.

Several of the ferrys were off the beaten path and were difficult to find. Most were free but the most I paid was $2.00 crossing the Ohio River at Cincinnati.

ferry 3 

The joy of riding a motorcycle on the secondary roads. No traffic. Not knowing what you will see around the next curve. You know what I'm talking about.

Next year I will be headed for Tennessee and more ferry rides. Another note: I have mounted a video camera to my motorcycle and will be putting together videos of my travels. 

mc staff
1/29/2011 8:24:09 AM

Thanks for the additional suggestions, everyone. Here's a website we found that offers additional info on river ferries of the middle Mississippi River Valley:

james degregoria
1/29/2011 6:15:14 AM

I, Likewise have crossed river of this country and look for new ones constantly. In KY there is one on the Ohio River at Agusta, Ky. The oldest in the uSA is in PA and cross's the Susquanna River from Montgomery PA to Millersburg. Its bee in Operation longer then any other ferry in the USA

1/28/2011 8:51:18 AM

Ditto on the St. Louis area ferries, but one of the most famous of them recently closed. The Grafton Ferry is out of business until further notice. And ditto to the writer's sentiments. If you need a ferry to get there, it means two things: 1. It's a "road less travelled" or there would be a bridge. 2. People still take the trouble to ferry there, so there must be a good reason. My favorite example is riding the Golden Eagle Ferry from the flat, boring, St. Charles County flood-plain, across the Upper Mississippi toward hilly, rustic Calhoun County. The road away from the ferry looks like it goes straight up, into adventure at the top of the world. And that's pretty much what happens.

william patterson_2
1/27/2011 11:44:34 AM

Ben, when I saw the opening picture I thought it would be about some adventure tourer fastening pontoons to his bike for a ride down a major tributary! Seriously, sounds like fun, and if you ever get in the St. Louis area, check out the ferries north of town crossing the Missouri and Miss. rivers, riding the Alton river-way, etc. Islands in the "middle" are fun places to explore, see boats in the water and out), eagles (in season, lock and dams, etc. Safe riding! wcp