Valley View Ferry

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Valley View Ferry
Valley View Ferry.jpg
LocaleBetween Richmond and Nicholasville, Kentucky.
WaterwayKentucky River
Transit typeCable ferry
OwnerLexington-Fayette Urban County Government and Madison and Jessamine Counties
OperatorSame as owner
Began operation1785
No. of vesselsOne
No. of terminalsTwo

The Valley View Ferry provides passage over the Kentucky River in rural central Kentucky. Located on Kentucky Route 169, this ferry service connects auto traffic between the county seats of Richmond in Madison County and Nicholasville in Jessamine County. The ferry was founded in 1780, predating Kentucky's admission to the Union in 1792. It is widely regarded as the commonwealth's oldest continually operating business.[1]

John Craig, a Virginia veteran of the Revolutionary War, acquired land in the area in 1780 through a military warrant. In 1785, the Virginia General Assembly granted Craig "a perpetual and irrevocable" franchise to operate a ferry.[2] Daniel Boone, Henry Clay and Ulysses S. Grant were among its passengers.[3] The ferry remained a privately owned business for more than 200 years, passing through the hands of seven successive families until 1991. It was then purchased jointly by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and Madison and Jessamine counties for $60,000.[1]

The rudderless ferry is guided by cables stretching between four 55-foot towers. The current boat, named the "John Craig" after the franchise's original owner, dates to 1996. The vessel it replaced sustained heavy damage after sinking under the weight of a heavy snowfall and then as a result of salvage efforts.[4] The entire ferry site was renovated in 1998, when authorities replaced the four towers and their cables. Two years later, the ferry authority received a federal grant allowing an upgrade of the barge. The new vessel, longer than its predecessor by ten feet, enables the ferry to carry three cars instead of two.[5]

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet funds the ferry as a free service. On average it transports 250 cars a day.[3]

Popular culture[edit]

The ferry appeared in background scenes of the 1967 Irvin Kershner film The Flim-Flam Man.


  1. ^ a b Poor, Chris (1991-07-28). "The Return of the Valley View Ferry: Oldest Business is Back in Business". Lexington Herald-Leader.
  2. ^ On-site historical marker, referenced in Wells, Dianne; Melba Porter Hay; Thomas H. Appleton (2002). Roadside History: A Guide to Kentucky Highway Markers. Frankfort: Kentucky Historical Society. p. 149. ISBN 0-916968-28-6.
  3. ^ a b Hammond, Claude (2004-03-01). "A Kentucky Ferry Tale". Lexington Herald-Leader.
  4. ^ Martin, Kimberly N (1996-01-17). "Boat Damage Sinks Historic Ferry Service: 2-Month Shutdown Inconveniencing Passengers". Lexington Herald-Leader.
  5. ^ Partridge, Wayne (2000-04-04). "Ferry Good News for Commuters: Valley View Gets Federal Grant to Replace Barge". Lexington Herald-Leader.

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