Ferries serviced local rivers

May 10, 2007 11:00 pm
Del Norte County's rivers drew early entrepreneurs to run ferry services for passage. (Photo Courtesy of the Del Norte Historical Society).
Del Norte County's rivers drew early entrepreneurs to run ferry services for passage. (Photo Courtesy of the Del Norte Historical Society).

By Nicholas Grube

Triplicate staff writer

In order to bring supplies and people in and out of Del Norte County, travelers first needed to traverse the oft-treacherous Klamath and Smith Rivers.

Business pioneers, seeing the potential, decided to set up ferry systems to carry goods and people across the waterways – for a price.

On Klamath River, prior to , Yurok Indians would charge to transport people across the waterway in large redwood canoes. However, the Del Norte Board of Supervisors took that revenue away from them when they approved Morgan G. Tucker to operate a toll ferry across the river.

Tucker lost control of his ferry and its operation switched hands multiple times, with multiple calamities, until 1895 when B.T. Bailey undertook the ferry.

Bailey, with board approval, ran a 1,700 foot cable across the river to use as a guidewire, and he would use the current as his motor.

However, in 1926 the ferry became obsolete with the building of Douglas Bridge.

On the Smith River, the main ferry belonged to George Henry Peacock, the rancher who also ran a pack train into Oregon Territory and carried miners into the hills on his vessel.

This ferry was similar to the Requa in that it also used a cable to connect the two banks. The cable was made of help rope that was purported to be as thick as a man's forearm. It used a pulley system to push off the banks and into the rushing water.

This ferry, like the Requa, was later sold to the Bailey family, along with all of the surrounding land.

Other ferries in Del Norte during this time include Catching's Ferry, which was located over a mile from where Mill Creek flows into the Smith River, and Mace's Ferry and Station, which was owned by business mogul Horace Gasquet.

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