May 1965: Franklin's Ferry put out of service after 75-year run

Posted 5/10/19

There was a fleeting hope that Franklin's Ferry might be saved."Sentiments still ride with the 75-year-old ferry and the board may have found a feasible financial way to keep the ferry churning back …

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May 1965: Franklin's Ferry put out of service after 75-year run

Posted

There was a fleeting hope that Franklin's Ferry might be saved.

"Sentiments still ride with the 75-year-old ferry and the board may have found a feasible financial way to keep the ferry churning back and forth across the Warrior River," the Daily Mountain Eagle reported on May 5, 1965.

The Walker County Board of Finance and Control had voted to shut down the ferry's service as of April 30. 

It was the last ferry left in Walker County. Prior to its demise, the ferry was making between five and 25 trips a day across the river.  

False hope spread when District Three Commissioner Gordon Craven learned that the Jefferson County Commission might be willing to increase its monthly payment for the ferry's operation from $300 a month to $400 a month.

Hopes were dashed a week later when the Eagle reported that the U.S. Bureau of Customs had warned that the ferry would have to pass a federal inspection before it could operate again. Board chairman David C. Akins said the ferry was likely to fail such an inspection and would probably be condemned. 

Its seaworthiness was a secondary concern. Without the extra money from the Jefferson County Commission, the ferry's fate was sealed.

Local commissioners were insistent that their counterparts pay more since Jefferson County got the greater benefit from the ferry.

The Eagle had first reported in February that the county was considering buying a new ferry. The cost was expected to be between $10,000 and $12,000.

The boat then in use had been making runs across the river for 15 years.

"Ferry operator Breck Perry says the ferry is not dangerous, but a note of caution can be noticed in his voice," according to the Eagle.

Perry said the steel floor of the old barge had been rusting for some time. He had recently informed the board that the ferry had been in dry dock for repairs but was almost beyond repair.

In 1950, the boat had cost the county $6,700, but commissioners feared that its replacement would be double that.

Still, Akins shook off the idea of building a bridge at the spot, saying "it would probably cost between $2 and $3 million."

Curiously, I couldn't find another headline about the ferry from Feb. 19, 1965, to May 5, 1965, when it already seemed to be common knowledge that the ferry was closing. 

No other updates were given after May 11.

I'll assume that 1965 was indeed the end of Franklin's Ferry. Perhaps the loss of the ferry wasn't a concern for Walker County residents. The Eagle writer openly speculated in the February article that most readers were unaware that the county owned a ferry and that anyone unfamiliar with the area would need to hire a guide to find it.

A quick Internet search yielded no additional information about the ferry, though one report I found suggests that Franklin Ferry Bridge opened in 1976 and was struck by barges six months later. 

In other news from the first week of May 1965, 18-year-old Jennifer Jones left for New York, where she was to be photographed for Glamour Magazine. Jones won an honorable mention in the magazine's 1965 Ten Best Dressed College Girls Contest. 

The Eagle announced March 4 that Jones, a freshman, had beaten eight other girls to be the college's entry in the ninth annual contest. Over 260 colleges submitted a candidate — the most in the history of the contest.

After receiving an honorable mention, Jones was one of the women featured in the fall issue of Glamour.

Jones also warranted a mention in the May 6 "Musings" column by the Eagle's Martha Pennington.

She reprinted this statement from Glamour: "Through the contest it is our hope to show that being well-dressed and well-groomed is an integral part of an education that develops the well-rounded mind. We also hope to show that these attributes are not a question of money or an extensive wardrobe. They depend rather on the development of good taste and an intelligent interest in one's appearance. It is also our wish to make known our sincere interest in all young college women by showing them how to enjoy their looks without being preoccupied with them and to impress upon them that good looks, good grooming and a good mind are all important goals to reach for in these highly competitive times."


Jennifer Cohron is the Daily Mountain Eagle's features editor.