Snake River Ferry

A ferry is seen ready to launch across the Snake River in this Clarence E. Bisbee photograph.

(COURTESY PHOTO) CLARENCE E. BISBEE, TWIN FALLS COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM

Before bridges were built over the Snake River, travelers commonly crossed the river on ferries. Here is a list of ferries and their former locations in the Magic Valley, as told in the Idaho State Historical Society archives:

Story (Howell’s) Ferry T9S, R25E, Section 2. Established in 1882 one mile below where the Minidoka Dam now stands. At first the ferry was known as the Story Ferry, but later became better known as Howell's Ferry.

Montgomery Ferry T9S, R25E, Sections 19 and 30. Established by Barton Montgomery in 1888. He operated the ferry in conjunction with his stepson Andrew Smith until 1918, when the ferry was sold. The new owners moved the ferry downstream to Frenchman's Island near Burley and used it as a private ferry.

Paree’s Ferry T9S, R24E, Section 29. This ferry is identified in Profile Surveys, Sheet 10.

Downard’s Ferry T10S, R24E, Section 2. A ferry that was in operation during the early part of the 20th century.

Frenchman’s Ferry T10S, R24E, Sections 28 and 29. A private ferry purchased from Barton Montgomery in 1918.

Starrh's Ferry T10S, R22E, Section 22. Thomas A. Starrh was granted a license by Alturas County commissioners on July 6, 1880, to establish and run his ferry. On June 22, 1885, the cable broke and the ferry was set adrift downstream with Starrh aboard. He escaped injury, but the ferry was wrecked beyond repair. On July 23, he launched a new ferry boat that measured 60 feet 4 inches in length and 15 feet in width. Its bottom and sides were covered with galvanized iron. G. H. Weldon, a well-known mechanic who assisted in the construction, pronounced the boat one of the best west of the Rocky Mountains. Starrh was appointed receiver of the Hailey Land Office in October 1890 but still maintained ownership of his ferry. In the spring of 1891 he returned to the ferry to put on a new cable and check on his water wheels, which he had put in the previous year to raise the level of water for placer mining. In 1895 he was accused of embezzling public monies while acting as receiver, but the case was dismissed in 1897.

Spring Town Ferry This ferry was in operation during the Snake River placer mining excitement in the 1880s.

Shoshone Falls Ferry T9S, R18E, Section 31. On April 15, 1884, Alturas County commissioners granted Charles Walgamott and the Shoshone Falls Company a license to operate and maintain a ferry across Snake River at Shoshone Falls. The cost of the license was $25 per year. "It will be of interest to the traveling public to know that a ferry boat has been put on the Snake River at Shoshone Falls. A boat at that point has long been needed." The ferry's proximity to the falls caused many travelers to hesitate and contemplate the outcome of the boat breaking loose. Accidents did occur, but there were few fatalities. On March 31, 1904, the boat broke loose and went over the falls, killing two men and one woman. The woman, Marie Willis, was an employee of the Shoshone Falls Hotel and was occasionally in charge of the ferry. On May 1, 1905, another tragic accident took place when the ferryman, Dan Kingsley, lost control of the craft and plunged over the falls to his death. When the cable broke on the afternoon of May 27, 1907, S. Belle Chamberlain, state superintendent of public instruction, Louise Johnson, state librarian, and two male passengers were left adrift. Fast thinking by the men saved the craft from going over the falls. They managed to grab the broken cable and tied it to the beam of the boat. After a nearly 30-minute struggle, they maneuvered the boat close enough to shore to be retrieved by a scow. In 1928, A. Kingswold was accused of operating the ferry while being intoxicated. While under the influence, he would stop the craft in the middle of the river and serenade his captive customers with his mandolin and singing. Officials attempted to void his license but upon investigation found that he had no license, franchise, or bond to operate the ferry. By 1927, when the ferry was replaced by the Perrine Bridge, it was one of the few Snake River crafts operating on electricity. Private parties continued to run the ferry into the 1940s.

Perrine Ferry T9S, R17E, Section 28 and 33. Ira B. Perrine established his ferry in the early 1900s. He later replaced the ferry with a wagon bridge. The bridge fell into disuse with the completion of the rim-to-rim Perrine Bridge in 1927.

Crystal Springs Ferry T9S, R15E, Section 12. A 20th century private ferry used by local residents to haul livestock and supplies across the river.

Clark’s Ferry T9S, R15E, Section 9. In the spring of 1864, Frank Johnson received a six-month license to run a ferry across the Snake River about 6 miles above Salmon Falls. He soon sold the operation to Samuel F. P. Briggs, Pete Stewart and John Bell. A lawsuit resulted over the transaction, and Briggs won the court decision. He proceeded to move the ferry upstream and became partners with Samuel Clark. In 1866, Briggs left the partnership and was replaced by William Whitmore. In the spring of 1870, Ingram & Company purchased the business. When the freighters and the stage line changed to different crossings in 1870 and 1871, Ingram's business suffered appreciably. The ferry continued in operation for only a few more years before falling into disuse.

Syster Ferry T9S, R14E, Section 1. Mr. and Mrs. Syster started this private ferry in 1904. It was replaced by a bridge in 1912.

Banbury Hot Springs Ferry T8S, R14E, Section 33. A private ferry that operated during the early 20th century.

Brailsford Ferry A 20th century private ferry that was located near Banbury Hot Spring.

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