Fort Gates Ferry
|Waterway||St. Johns River|
|Route||Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway|
|Operator||Fort Gates Fish Camp|
|Began operation||c. 1854|
|System length||1 mile (1.6 km)|
|Travel time||10 minutes|
|Route ID||764039 / 764043|
The Fort Gates Ferry is an auto ferry that crosses the St. Johns River in Florida, downstream of Lake George and just upstream of Little Lake George, at Fruitland Cove. The oldest operating ferry in Florida, it acts as part of the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway.
Location and history
The Fort Gates Ferry, also known as the Gateway Ferry, connects Fort Gates Ferry Road near Pomona Park on the east bank of the St. Johns River with Forest Service Road 43, leading to Salt Springs in the Ocala National Forest, on the west bank. The ferry first entered service in the 1850s and is the oldest ferry service still operating in Florida. It was operated as a military ferry by the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.
The current ferry began operation in 1914, and is one of four still operating in the state of Florida. The ferry, part of the Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway, consists of a barge pushed by a tugboat converted from a 1910 Sharpie sailboat. It has a weight limit of 15 tonnes (15 long tons; 17 short tons). The tugboat, named Too Wendy, is 18 feet (5.5 m) long and is powered by a 65 horsepower (48 kW) diesel engine. Hurricane Gladys sunk the ferry's tugboat in 1968; service was suspended until it could be raised.
In 1972, an automobile commercial featuring Paul Newman was filmed on the Fort Gates Ferry. In 2009 the ferry was part of a route named the "World's Worst Commute" in a contest run to promote a brand of motor oil.
The ferry, with a toll of $10 in 2009, is one of four in Florida. Operating daily except Tuesday during daylight hours, it has an estimated annual traffic load of 1,500 vehicles per year. The ferry takes ten minutes to cross the one mile (1.6 km) span of the river; it can carry two to four pickup trucks, a dozen motorcycles, or 38 dirt bikes or bicycles.
The ferry is privately operated by the Fort Gates Fish Camp, and is funded by Putnam County as a public transportation service; the subsidy was set at $10,000 per year in 1995. Putnum County is planning on replacing the ferry landings with new structures.
- "Florida Bridge Information" (PDF). Office of Maintenance Bridge Information. Florida Department of Transportation. June 29, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-07.
- van Trump, Bette (December 4, 1980). "Fish Attractors Installed". News from South Putnam. Daytona Beach, FL. p. 2. Retrieved 2012-08-31.
- Klinkenberg, Jeff (August 23, 2009). "Fort Gates Ferry still crossing the St. Johns River". Tampa Bay Times, St. Petersburg, FL. Accessed 2012-08-24.
- White, Gary (April 18, 2006). "Long-Serving Ferry Has Local, International Appeal". The Ledger. Lakeland, FL. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
- Hamaker, Elaine (July 30, 1989). "Fort Gates Ferry gets you there...just in time". Star-Banner. Ocala, FL. p. 11E. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
- Fort Gates Ferry. United States Forest Service. Accessed 2012-08-24.
- Franklin and Mikula 2009, p. 54.
- Tunstall, Jim (November 20, 2005). "Ocala forest has dark secret". The Tampa Tribune. Tampa, FL. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
- Voyles, Karen (July 23, 1995). "Florida's oldest ferry boat still crossing the St. John's.". The Gainesville Sun. Gainesville, FL. p. 1B. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
- "Winds Knock Out Ferry At Welaka". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Daytona Beach, FL. October 25, 1968. p. 7. Retrieved 2012-08-31.
- Opperman, Michael (October 6, 2009). "Salt Springs woman wins World's Worst Commute". Star-Banner. Ocala, FL. Retrieved 2012-08-24.
- "Public Works Project Update" (PDF). Putnam County Public Works Department. August 2011. p. 3. Retrieved 2012-08-31.