Friday, May 24, 2019

Anderson's Ohio River Ferry

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After being stuck in non-moving traffic on I-75 in downtown Cincinnati, frustration finally overcame and I dove onto the nearest off ramp into a local neighborhood. Looking for a sign, I see "US-50 East - West". Hmmm, west is the direction I want to go. West and south back home to Texas.

US-50 follows along the north bank of the Ohio River in Southwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, meandering thru old economically depressed river towns with rusting structures of former industries. Several years back Rudy, David and I rode Russian Ural sidecars from the Atlantic Ocean terminal of old US-50 all the way to the Pacific end in California, but for some reason we skipped over the Cincinnati section of the road.

A small sign on the side of the road points toward the river, saying only "Ferry". Hmm, wonder if one is still operating here. Pulling in behind several other cars waiting, I spot the tariff sign, but no ferry in sight. Looks more like a boat launch than a ferry crossing. Anderson Ferry sign looks recent though.... ?

Looking beyond the sign, there appears to be, maybe... a small ferry on the far bank? 
Prices are affordable, motorcycles - $2.

Not seeing any movement in the distance, start to wonder if a ferry is even running today. Maybe the cars are just picnickers on the riverbank....  though the sign has hours of operation posted.

From the west comes a large empty barge into view, plowing its way up river. A small recreational speed boat zips past the barge.

With the passing of the barge, I spot movement as a small vessel works its way over to the north side of the Ohio where I stand. Its' noisy engine struggling to keep from being swept downstream.

Expertly the Pilot sticks the off load ramp almost on the roadway.

No ropes, no anchors, just the ferry's engine and an experienced riverboat pilot hold the ferry in place so vehicles can quickly offload and reload.

First roll off the $2 motorcycles...

Deborah A will carry us safely across the wide river. The ferry only holds a dozen cars and trucks. The temperature is a warm 80 degrees, sunny, not windy. Can not imagine what it would be like to use this ferry in the middle of a winter blizzard.

There is a story about the deckhand falling overboard several years ago in the middle of winter. He was not discovered missing until the Capitan had reached the other side. There are only two workers on the ferry at any time, the Capitan/Pilot and the deckhand. Riders were bundled up in their cars, staying warm. No one saw the man fall into the frigid waters or know how it happened. His body was found two miles downriver.

As we near the south shoreline, can see there are two older smaller ferries docked.  
One, Boone No.7 is a side wheel paddle boat. 

The Anderson Ferry has been in operation since at least 1817, but they say a ferry operated at this location many years before that. Is now in the historical record books.

I have crossed the Ohio River many times on two, three and four wheels over bridges, but this is the first for crossing on a ferry that I did not know even existed.

On the south shore is the historic Anderson homestead and the main terminal for the ferry operation. Behind the house is an old barn where they housed the horses that were used to power the early ferries across the river. Yes, the early ferries were powered by two blind horses walking on a treadmill, each powering the paddle wheel on their side of the ferry.

The south side landing is more remote and off the beaten path. Historic car collectors favor this old crossing as do motorcyclists. This type of slow leisurely travel I can enjoy.
Slow moving Interstates try my patience. 

Enjoy a small piece of Americana for only two bucks. I never would have found this historic treasure if it had not been for the modern traffic snarl in Cincinnati,... and my impatience with snail traffic.

For more information on the Anderson Ferry, go to:


Handmade tamales

A recent sidecar gathering for Texas and Louisiana sidecar riders, Art and Rosa fed the group homemade tamales.

The rally gathered at the KOA Campgrounds in Rusk, then rode to Alto, Texas for breakfast.

More than twenty-five sidecar rigs line the small Texas town street, in spite of the rainy weather forecast.

Different colors, brands, models and ages, enjoying life on three wheels.

Only in Texas...  
a bit too late to post that, me thinks.

Ride safe and long ya'll



  1. The Ferry looks like a leisurely way to travel....kind of surprised that all its skipper did is use the engine to hold it in position....

    1. Life's little gems are not found on the interstate.

      A line from a movie, "We don't need no stinkin' rope" or something to that effect. Guess tying up and releasing just takes too much time, quicker to dump and reload holding it steady.

  2. I am always afraid of taking a ferry with my bike.

  3. I hear ya, sometimes though, the ferry is the only option. The paved northern route in Canada along the St Lawrence Seaway has a ferry as the only option.

    Crossing the Magellan Strait on a ferry was exciting as you had to ride in salt water to board the ferry. I did not care for that.


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