I’m going over… to the “other” side!

    ’cause it’s wonderful there!


One of my wonderful, close “nature” drives is Tates Creek Road.  No, not at Tates Creek Center, or near Talon Winery, but along the actual “Tates Creek,” which is actually in Madison County.  It is a nice drive to take pictures of Blue Herons and scenic riffles.

To get there you have to go to the “other” side… the other side of the Kentucky River.    Hmmmm…. no bridge.

The Old River Dock
                          The Old River Dock at Valley View (Click for larger)
But there is a ferry. The Valley View Ferry.  The oldest ferry, and maybe the oldest continuously operating business, in the US is yes.. here in Kentucky.  In our own back yard.

A bit of history if you would bear with me.

It was 1785. A Revolutionary War veteran, John Craig, petitioned the Commonwealth of Virginia to operate a ferry at Valley View near where Tates Creek joined the Kentucky River. His ferry charter was signed by Governor Patrick Henry, one of the founding fathers of the United States. It was then one of only a few crossing the Kentucky River, a very formidable barrier to anyone wanting to move past for finding a new home,  or for commerce in the new lands.

In subsequent years many other ferries cropped up, such as Clay’s Ferry, where now Interstate 75 now crosses the Kentucky.

The ferry was operated privately for over 200 years, passing through eight different families.  The ferry took many thousands over the Kentucky,  floating such notables as Daniel Boone, Henry Clay and Ulysses S Grant. They shared the crossing with livestock and dry goods.

In 1991 it was purchased jointly by Fayette, Madison and Jessamine Counties for $60,000.00. Whereas in years gone by it transported cattle, food and other supplies, it now can handle only three vehicles each crossing. It is powered by a paddlewheeler named the “John Craig,” one of several which  have served named after the founder of the ferry.  The ferry serves an average of 250 vehicles a day, plus one old Sienna Van several times a month… me.

At the Valley View Ferry site, the RNI&B (Riney B, or The Richmond, Nicholasville, Irvine & Beattyville) railroad line crossed the river. The last remains are pillars for its bridge over the Kentucky which are view-able from the ferry and two stone supports where it once crossed Tates Creek. The bridge over the Kentucky was demolished for the war effort, November 17, 1942. The bed for the rail can be seen along Tates Creek road in Madison County and on Old Railroad Road in Jessamine…  another of my favorite drives.

So, the ferry is only a three minute or so ride. But it is a ride into history, and then a drive along a scenic creek as you wind (or wend, your choice) your way into Richmond KY from Lexington.

It is worth the ride… just to feel the peace of the river, and the history of days gone by… the livestock crossing, the frontiersmen, the early statesmen, and the folks like you and me.


Soon, maybe tomorrow…


I’m going over… to the “other” side!

    ’cause it’s wonderful there!


As a photographer and a hiker, I love making images of the natural world. I'm also and avid scuba diver and wannabe chef.

Related posts

1 thought on “I’m going over… to the “other” side!”

  1. Jeff Botts

    Thanks for the history of the Ferry. And I absolutely love the photo! Nice post!

Leave a Comment