Out of the Past Thursday, Oct. 4, 1956

Reprinted from Hardin County Independent Oct. 4, 1956

Front page. WITH NEW BRIDGE CROSSING OHIO, HISTORIAN TELLS LIFE OF FERRIES. With the new bridge put into use at Shawneetown, John W. Allen, history writer at the Southern Illinois University, has written how ferry boats operated in crossing the Ohio for 150 years. He wrote __
A few weeks ago a bridge over the Ohio at Shawneetown was opened to traffic and the old ferry no longer necessary, ceased to operate This marked the passing of another of the historic ferries of the midwest, one among those having the longest records of continuous operation, for Shawneetown has been an important river crossing for 150 years. Started Where Needed. Numerous other ferries operated along the Illinois section of the Ohio, and some of them became widely known. Apparently few or none of them really were planned. They simply began where groups of emigrants from the earlier settled areas, principally the Carolinas, Tennessee and Kentucky, came to the river on their way to settle in Southern Illinois. Among the more important of these older ferries were the ones at Shawneetown and Cave-in-Rock and those at Elizabethtown, Golconda and Metropolis. Some of these began about the same time as the one at Shawneetown and have been in almost continuous operation. These ferries were the principal gateways by which the early settler entered the Illinois country. They also served travelers taking a short cut to points farther west. Ford Was Ferry Then — Legends grew up about several of these river crossings. Perhaps no one of them collected a greater body of this lore than did the one a short way upstream from Cave-in-Rock. Known as Ford’s Ferry, this one was operated by a man named Thomas Ford. In addition to operating the ferry, Ford kept a tavern in Kentucky, a few miles south from his ferry. He laid out and improved a roadway from his tavern in Kentucky to another tavern kept by William Potts about ten miles north

 

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