Old ferry retires but finds a new use

Published 2:24 pm Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The winter of ‘71 and all her aches and pains were really taking a toll. There were even those who were suggesting that maybe she was unsafe just because her bottom leaked. Little did she know that the county was under contract to build a new, faster ferry.

Several problems set the transfer date back. She was not ready to be kissed off yet, and just when we were getting a little emotional—maybe she wasn’t all that bad—then, bang, she acts up again!

They brought the new ferry down to be finished on the site. Now, folks this was promised to be “state of the art,” the builder claimed, with two side wheels, one on each side. “Why, you won’t even need the over-head cable.” The builder liked the river-folk and their way of life, so the completion date slowed again. One day, word was received that he had taken some of his friends for a ride to show her off, and they couldn’t get it to turn around against the current.

Time had come to put the new ferry in service and say goodbye to our friend. Once, I had hinted that it would make a good swim platform for our new swim area. They removed all the machinery and rails, etc. “OK, Bill, she’s yours!” She was coming home with me to spend her retirement years! They dressed her all up with a wooden deck, and she served us well.

It was a nice sunny day, and I decided to tow it to Higgins Ferry.

I saw Probate Judge George Smith and Engineer Bob Alexander and invited them to go up and see their new ferry in action and enjoy a few minutes on the lake. George said, “But Bill, I have an important luncheon.” I’ll have you back. Bob also had an appointment—have you back in an hour.

Nice ride, beautiful day, now let’s see our ferry cruise. I had timed the trip once as 5 minutes, compared to 12 minutes on the old one. OK guys, let’s show her off. The ferry cables got too much slack and got all tangled, and the trip took one and a half hours! The poor operator was physically challenged, with only one arm, and was really struggling.

George had already seen too much and left a parting shot, “That’s OK, just a few years of experience is all you need.” Whoa! Glad George didn’t hear his reply.

Everyone was getting a little touchy, so I quickly tied to my new swim pier, and she was kicking and screaming all the way. My passengers were all ticked. They had all missed appointments, not to mention lunch (no cell phones). Further embarrassment: As I had all my 165 horsepower stretched out, bouncing off the banks and going nowhere, my old buddy pulls up in his 25 horsepower and asked, “Do you want me to push it for you?” Smooth as silk! Now we all had something to sulk about while not speaking.

Anyway, you might have sun-bathed or swam with the old Mim’s Ferry and didn’t know it.