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History in Northern Michigan – Ironton Ferry

This shortcut across the south arm of Lake Charlevoix is full of history.

The cable-guided ferry began operations in 1876 and was powered by houses. It got it’s 15-minutes of fame in 1936 when Sam Alexander, the operator from the 1880s to the 1940s, was featured on Ripley’s “Believe It or Not.” It was said he had traveled the distance equal to the circumference of Earth while never being more than 1,000 feet from him home.

Nowadays, the ferry is powered by a diesel-hydraulic engine with propellers at each end and is open from mid-spring to the day before Thanksgiving. Although prices have risen from the days it cost a small handful of change for passage, it’s still relatively inexpensive to cross at only $3 per car. It can hold four vehicles per 10-minute trip across the 610-foot span of the Ironton Narrows.

If you’re planning on making a trip across the ferry, make sure you bring cash. They currently don’t accept credit or debit cards, or bills over $20.