April 19th, 2012 :: Posted by Jamie Smith :: Comments (0) :: Leave Comment
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, before bridges were built to span the Susquehanna River, most of the towns and villages used a ferry to cross the stream.
Most of the ferries were basically a raft of logs, like white pine, covered by a platform of rough cut boards. The platform would be enough above the level of the water to keep your feet dry.
The ferry was tethered on both sides of the river by a cable or heavy rope, or both, of course, use of the ferry was limited to when the river was calm or low. The ferry man would grasp the rope on one end of the ferry and walk to the other end, thus pulling the craft across the stream.
Upstream from Pittston, there were three ferries to note: at Ransom, one at Falls, and one at White’s Ferry. These carried people, horses and wagons, and in later years, automobiles.
Solomon White started the operation of White’s Ferry in 1838 and continued its operation until his death in 1890. It was then operated by his son, George, until his death in 1914; then his son, William, continued the service until November, 1938. The White family kept the service going for 100 years.
Members of the White family built all ferry boats used by themselves and also built some for others, one in particular was one at Ransom. Most boats were built of white pine and oak and for some reason, unknown by now, built upside down. White’s ferry was 66 feet long and 12 feet wide.
In the early 1930’s, I went across the river on White’s Ferry with my father and his Model T pick-up truck. Dad was a plumber and was hired to do some work at Camp Onawanda, then the Girl Scout camp, located just north of White’s Ferry on the west side of the river.
The ferry was used to avoid the steep Keelersburg Mountain road which the Model T couldn’t manage. The problem was the gas tank under the seat that fed the carburator by gravity.
On a steep slope, gasoline could not run uphill to the engine. One, often used trick, was to turn the vehicle around and go up the hill in reverse.
After the bridge across the river at Falls was opened in 1921, the road over Keelersburg Mountain was used less and the ferry service continued as the best way to cross. The ferry boat rides cost 25 to 30 cents for an automobile.
1n 1927 the U.S. Postal Service changed the designation of White’s Ferry to Hoban Heights, a location on the east side of the river, while White’s Ferry was on the west side.
Information on the ferry was found in archives of the Wilkes-Barre Sunday Independent newspaper, the Wyoming County Historical Society and with the help of Charles Petrillo, Wilkes-Barre historian.
The Sullivan Review, Sullivan County’s weekly newspaper, is located in historic downtown Dushore. Founded in 1878 and purchased by the Shoemaker family in 1966, The Sully is now in its 45th year as a Shoemaker family enterprise. The newspaper office is located in the two-story red and white building that was constructed at the turn of the century for the Dushore Fire Company. The Sullivan Review Print Shop is located across Water Street in the former Cole’s Hardware building.
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