Floating Through History on the Valley View Ferry

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Floating Through History on the Valley View Ferry


In 1991 Madison and Jessamine and Fayette counties took over the Valley View ferry. At that time Jessamine County Judge Executive Neal Cassity interviewed Ed Land, who was born in Valley View in 1916 and was raised there. The ferry originated in 1785 and the Lands were the owners of the original ferry. The Tapps settled at Tapps Cave, the Spears at Spears. There was no need for a ferry until the Kentucky River was dammed. The Lands sold the ferry in 1950 to Terry Perkins Claude Howard also owned the ferry at one time.

Land said his father always had a good business. People hauled their tobacco to Lexington with mules and wagons. Nearby country stores sold dry goods, shoes, clothes, hardware, plow points, bolts, and groceries. So you had a regular traffic of drummers who crossed the river going to those stores. Land remembered a wooden ferry boat with oars on each end, with no deck. Land's father went to Oklahoma and was a civil engineer for the C& 0 Railroad until Land's grandfather was injured and the father had to come back to Valley View to run the ferry.

It was Land's father who designed the first steel boat for the ferry. He also designed the second steel boat, which was still in use in 1991. It was built in Madisonville, Indiana (Madison?). It has latch holes and you could screw them down and the boat wouldn't sink but would pop up just like a bottle. The American Barge Company brought it up the Ohio River to the mouth of the Kentucky. Land brought it on from Carrolton.

The Lands hired help at $1 a day. One worker was Frank Ashcraft. Land mentioned people from Madison County who rode the ferry from their new homes in Nicholasville. Bobby Kanatzer's mother, Coleman Perkins, Annette McDowell, and June Snowden were mentioned. Work crews on their way to Lexington and coal trucks from Sand Gap used the ferry regularly. Land remembered Valley View when it had a bank, a butcher shop, saw mills, coal yards. Long rafts floated down the river, taking a long time to pass and clear the way for the ferry to cross. Logs were floated down the Kentucky River from the mountains where the trees were cut to Valley View where the saw mills were. Additional trade crossed the ferry on a regular chicken route, stopping at stores to pick up chickens people had traded in for groceries.

Land mentioned the chief Valley View families-the Howards, Gullettes, Giles, Perkins, and Lands. Land remembered when the state bought the old Clays Ferry Bridge and they closed it and U.S. 25 for repairs. All the traffic had to come by way of Valley View and the ferry on its way to and from Florida. When the Boonesborough ferry was replaced by a bridge the state had to buyout the ferry franchise. No ferry can be operated within a mile of an existing ferry.

These then are some of the memories Ed Land, Jr. had of the old days in Valley View.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “Floating Through History on the Valley View Ferry,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed May 28, 2022, https://madisonsheritage.eku.edu/items/show/1782.