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

History in Northern Michigan – Ironton Ferry

The cable-guided ferry began operations in 1876 and has been powered by horses. Sam Alexander, the operator from the 1880s until the 1940s, was featured on “Believe It or Not” in 1936. He reportedly never strayed more than 1,000 feet from home while traveling the circuit of the Earth. (Click here to see all Lake Charlevoix Homes for Sale)

Opening Day

The ferry now runs from mid-spring to the day before Thanksgiving on a diesel-hydraulic engine with propellers at each end. Although prices have risen from the days when it was only a few cents, it is still relatively cheap at $3 per car. It can also carry four vehicles across the 610-foot Ironton Narrows in ten minutes.

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.  

Ironton Ferry Frequently Asked Questions

The Ironton Ferry journey across the lake is how long?

The distance is 610 feet, and the trip only takes three minutes. The wires descend to a depth of 25 feet and the water is around 40 feet deep. When the boat isn’t working, you have to travel an additional 18 or 19 miles around the lake.

What about that massive engine, how quick is the Ironton Ferry?

Is it not a gas guzzler? Every two weeks, two 325-gallon diesel tanks are refilled. With 1.4 miles per gallon, the ferry travels at a speed of 3 and a half miles per hour. Because we can run four cars per trip and around 12 automobiles per hour, it actually saves gasoline.

What happens if passengers board the ferry and realize they are cashless?

The staff typically provides them with the county clerk’s address or directs them there. Additionally, you can instantly pay using the token transportation app.

Does the Ironton Ferry operate in November?

Yes, it can snow two inches per hour on occasion. The flat steel deck can become exceedingly slick.

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