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1. Requa Ferry

The first white man to operate a toll ferry across the Klamath at Requa was Morgan G. Tucker. This was in 1876. The Yurok opposed the undertaking, because it would deprive them of the revenue they had formerly received for passing travelers across the river in their big redwood canoes. [55] On September 2 Tucker employed the Crescent City Courier to announce:

To Whom it may Concern

The undersigned will apply to the Honorable Board of Supervisors of Del Norte County for authority to erect and keep a Toll Ferry on the Klamath River about one-half mile above the mouth of said river. The said applicant will be at the office of the clerk of said Board . . . on Monday, October 2, 1876. [56]

His application was approved, and on September 23, John Young who had come up the trail from Eureka informed the editor of the Courier that Tucker's ferry at the mouth of the Klamath "is a grand improvement." [57] Tucker's ferry caused the Indians to protest its presence to the agent in charge of the Hoopa Valley Reservation. At first, the Office of Indian Affairs was willing to let matters drift. On April 11, 1878, Tucker wrote the Commissioner of Indian Affairs "for permission to continue the ferry franchise" now held at Requa. To strengthen his position, he pointed out that "the mail from Crescent City to Eureka crosses at this point, and the maintenance of the ferry is a public benefit." [58]

The Secretary of the Interior was agreeable to granting Tucker the franchise, provided he posted a bond, and signified his willingness to observe such rules and regulations as established by the Office of Indian Affairs. [59]

Tucker continued to operate his ferry until June 1879, when, along with the other squatters, he was evicted from the Klamath River Reservation.

A Yurok took over Tucker's franchise. The service now provided caused numerous complaints. On January 29, 1887, the Courier warned, "River high. The ferry boat run by the Indians is not fit for use during high and swift water, and under no circumstances would I at present take the chances of crossing with horses." [60] In July 1888 it was reported that the Yurok who ferried Frank Brown across the Klamath got lost in a fog and went upstream several miles before discovering his error. [61] In June 1890 Captain Spott, who operated the ferry, transported 1,800 sheep across the river at five cents a head. The captain crowded too many sheep onto his boat, smothering three. The owner demanded and received $2 per head for the dead animals. [62] Travelers were also disenchanted by Captain Spott's failure to establish and maintain a schedule. They urged that the franchise be awarded a responsible white man. [63]

It was 1895, three years after the Reservation had been discontinued, before Captain Spott was squeezed out. In December of that year Bailey and Fortain signed an agreement with the Board of Supervisors to operate a ferry near the mouth of the Klamath. W. T. Bailey proposed to run a cable across the river, 1,700 feet in length. This was 300 feet longer than the Eel River cable. The cable would be similar to the one used at Peacock's crossing of Smith River, and the current would be employed to drive the ferry across. [64]

The cable, after several failures, was finally stretched across the river, and continued in operation for a number of years. By 1919, however, it had seen better days. On May 9, 1919, the editor of the Del Norte Triplicate complained that the ferry at Requa, because of the low stage of the river, might have to be relocated and new equipment provided, "if the present regular mail, passenger and tourist service is maintained." Traffic during ebb tide was delayed as much as six hours. [65]

In June 1919 the Triplicate announced that a new contract for the Klamath ferry had been let by the Board of Supervisors. Dave Ball was to receive $1,402.13 for building a new boat, while Stacey Fisher was to be paid $2,580 a year for operating the ferry. Subsequently, Frank Bosch ran the ferry until the Douglas Bridge was opened for traffic in 1926. The ferry then went out of business. [66]

Bids for the Klamath River Bridge were received May 26, 1924, and the contract awarded to F. Rolandi of San Francisco on June 19. Work was commenced in July. The bridge was dedicated May 17, 1926, with appropriate addresses by Governor Friend W. Richardson of California and Walter M. Pierce, Governor of Oregon. It was not opened to traffic, however, until the late fall of 1926. The bridge was named the Douglas Memorial Bridge in honor of the late Dr. Gustave H. Douglas. Dr. Douglas had spearheaded the campaign to secure construction of a highway bridge across the lower Klamath, which would link Del Norte with the improved highway system of Humboldt County and other areas to the south. [67]

During the flood of December 1964, two spans at the south end of the Douglas Bridge were washed out, a third span left "wobbly," and the north approach swept away. The golden bears were left standing guard over a ruined structure. Until a new bridge could be built one-half mile upstream, a Bailey Bridge, built by the Army Engineers, carried U.S. 101 traffic across the Klamath. [68]

2. Catching's Ferry

Catching's Ferry, located one-half mile above where Mill Creek flows into Smith River, provided transportation across to those taking the Cold Spring Mountain Trail from Crescent City to Sailors Creek. This ferry was in operation as late as 1884. [69]

3. Peacock's Ferry

Travelers on the Crescent City Plank Road crossed Smith River at Peacock's Ferry. This ferry was located a short distance below the mouth of Clark Creek. During certain seasons of the year, the ferry was moved about one-fourth mile farther downstream. [70]

In the 19th century a hemp line about the size of a man's forearm was stretched across Smith River at this point. One end was secured to a tree and the other to a windlass. A flat boat, large enough to accommodate a stage or large wagon, was attached to the line by blocks. When the ferry was ready to cast-off, she was pushed into the river by means of pulleys—her bow inclined upstream. The current, which struck the craft at an angle, provided the propelling force, and guided by a traveling block, the boat passed rapidly across Smith River. The ferryhouse and tollhouse were combined and located on the north bank. [71]

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004