Big River City - Cassville

Pride of Cassville Car Ferry   7/8/2017  dwm photo 
Since this blog started, I've written about ferry rides several times:  9/11/2012   6/18/2013   4/20/2017   10/12/2014     6/4/2016

None of them, however, were about the Pride of Cassville Car Ferry.

The plucky operation traces its history to 1833 when it helped settlers, hunters, and traders get across the Mississippi River.

Earlier this month, a day trip into southwest Wisconsin to see Stonefield Village (here's that blog) put us on the Great River Road.
The engine pivots around the car deck
for the trip west or east.  (dwm)

Our visit was before recent downpours created a mess of the pretty riverside town,  If you plan a visit, check their website (link above) to be sure they are running.

While the ferry service started in 1833, just a few years later a young Nelson Dewey (learn more about him in the Stonefield Village blog) took the ferry into town hoping to build Cassville into a capitol city.

That didn't happen, but Dewey became Wisconsin's first state Governor.

Since we wanted the experience and a round-trip, we parked the car and rode the Pride of Cassville as pedestrians.  That's just $2 each way.  (check their website for rates and schedule)

As we pulled up, it was on the Cassville side with two cars aboard.  We parked, walked down the hill and two more vehicles followed us aboard.  With that, we left Wisconsin.

Loading in Iowa. Notice the Iowa flag touches Iowa,
at the other end, the Wisconsin flag lands in Cassville. (dwm)
It's a longer ride than the Merrimac Ferry and you can't see where you'll get off from the starting point.

I'd guess we went between a half to a full-mile upriver before landing on the Iowa shore.

Cars got off and a line of waiting vehicles came aboard.

High in a tree above the river was the nest of a Bald Eagle.  An immature Eagle perched a few branches away, apparently waiting for "baldness" to set in.

The ferry ran for 100 years, progressing from actual horse-power to gas engines.  The nearest bridges are in Dubuque and Prairie du Chein, so the ferry saves miles.  In 1942, the ferry was dry-docked.

Looking south on the Mississippi.  (dwm)
It was revived in 1982 and in '85 the village of Cassville assumed ownership.  Iowa and Wisconsin sponsors advertise on-board.  The current ferry came online in 2011.

The boat moves right along, making the trip across the river in fifteen minutes.  That allows time to walk around the deck, take pictures, or grab the binoculars to gaze at the wildlife.

All that stuff is fun, but take time to experience the trip.

Nelson Dewey's dream for Cassville was to become a bustling center of government.

Boarding the ferry from the Wisconsin side.  (dwm)
It never happened.

There have been a lot of changes in 180 years or so since the first ferry crossed, but the spirit of Cassville remains.

A can - do community.  Trading hub. Agricultural center.  Tourist attraction.

The Pride of Cassville remains a large part of that spirit, one ferry crossing at a time.