Few people are alive in the Southwest today who can tell of having ridden on one of its historic river ferries. And most people would probably even question the former existence of ferryboats in the arid deserts of the Southwest. But before modern bridges were built, river ferry crossings were the fragile links upon which the regional transportation infrastructure depended.
The ultimate goal of the Southwest Ferry Project is to publish, in book form, much of the information that can be gathered about historic river ferry crossings. How many ferries operated, and where were they located? When and why were they established? Who were the ferrymasters, who were their passengers, and what stories survive of their mutual journeys? And finally, when did the ferry cease operations and why?
We ask anyone with information on historic Southwest ferry crossings to contact us and share what you might know or records you may have access to. We are focussing our research on the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. We are also including the areas of Nevada and California that are along the Colorado River.
Most major libraries have already been contacted about their holdings on this topic, but we have not been able to contact many of the smaller, local libraries and historical societies. If you are a librarian or archivist, please send us a brief description of what material you may have so we can correspond with you. If you or a friend or relative ever crossed a southwestern river on a ferryboat, especially if you have a photograph, please contact us and we will try to schedule a visit to examine your material and perhaps record an oral history on tape.
All contributors will be gratefully acknowledged. Please visit this website periodically for updates on the progress of the Southwest Ferry Project, or email us so we can contact you with occasional bulletins and news releases.