Ferries of all forms plied the waters between Hood River and Washington from the 1850s through the 1920s, when the construction of the interstate bridge rendered them unnecessary. They were a part of everyday life. If you wanted to get a car or cart, cow or chicken from one side of the river to the other you would need to pay one of the ferry operators for the transport. There were ferry landings in at least three spots on each side of the river. We'll show some of them in coming weeks.
Our Monday Mystery is that the ferry in this photo seems to be a real anachronism. We have pretty reliable dating of this image to about 1915, though by that era surely most ferry traffic was by motor powered craft. We have many pictures showing those craft, including some from this same collection. The latest written record I've seen of a sail powered ferry is one operated by John Stanley (of Stanley Rock fame). From the 1850s through the 1880s he operated a sail powered ferry, first between Stanley Rock and Bingen, and later between Bingen and the point where the Hood River Inn currently resides.
Yet there is this picture. Did a sail powered ferry survive several decades into the era of motor power? Were some people willing to tolerate a slower ferry that didn't operate when the wind didn't blow?
An adult Hood River resident of the 1910's would have been witness to some major changes: automobiles and airplanes, the Columbia River Highway, telephones and electricity. Perhaps some people found the pace of this sail powered ferry a welcome relief.
It must have been tough trying to accurately hit the dock, with only the wind as your power source.
l.e. on 9th May 2011 @ 7:12am
I wonder if they unhitched the horse from the buggy for the crossing. Perhaps a safety feature.
db on 9th May 2011 @ 7:23am
Seeing the heavy rope/line on the stern/bow makes one wonder if there is a line on the opposite end too.
This would enable winching the ferry into the dock on either side of the river.
Dr. Steelhead Catcher on 9th May 2011 @ 7:45am
I was going thru some documents that another department was disposing of here at work, and came across court orders from 1922, signed by District Attorney John Baker, Kent Shoemaker - clerk, in the matter of revocation of a Frank Larsen's ferry license for "sometimes past and at divers (sic) times been guilty of violating the Laws of the State of Oregon by transporting and importing intoxicating liquour from the State of Washington... and into Hood River County". The County Court at that time consisted of H.L. Hasbrouck, Judge, and F.H. Blackman, and Gus Sheppard, Commissioners.
spinsur on 9th May 2011 @ 9:20am
In my sailing experience no matter how light the wind is there is always a "docking breeze" which hits just as you reach the dock. I've never sailed anything with the mass of a barge, but I'll bet that thing often came in pretty hard.
Arthur on 10th May 2011 @ 8:47am
The look atof the horse carriage aboard the ferry makes me think the pic might re-date 1915 by a little. Dunno though.
Scott Cook on 11th May 2011 @ 1:06pm
I think I might agree with Scott on the date. All we know for sure is that it would be prior to the bridge?
Connie on 13th May 2011 @ 7:43am
I don't think they unhitched a team. I am only saying this because of an indicdent on the Biggs ferry which at one time was owned and operated by my great-grandfather. His brother was running the ferry, when a team, hitched to a wagon spooked and over the side they went. He attempted to cut them from their traces, but to no avail. He refused to work on that ferry again.....
Charlott on 12th June 2011 @ 7:06am
I'd unhitch on a small ferry like this (as they seem to have done) to preserve the balance of the craft.
böB on 14th September 2011 @ 4:29pm