Sunday, June 7, 2009
HISTORIC MATHENY FERRY
Ferries are common in the State of Washington, but Oregon has a few as well. We walked to, then rode the Matheny Ferry across the Willamette River located near Leo Perth's house while visiting him in Wheatland.
The ferry was switched from an old fashioned pulley type to diesel. Diesel got so expensive, they reverted to the pulley. Near the ferry an old landing is visible where the ferry once operated with live donkey's pulling the ferry across on a cable instead of the electric "donkey" now in operation.
This area was settled by Captain Matheny who named the town Atchison. It was once the suggested capitol of Oregon because of its great up-river access for shipping goods by barge and ferry to local communities. Eventually, deep harbors provided access to bigger vessels and the place was abandoned as a great capitol center. It was renamed appropriately, Wheatland, with acres and acres of wheat and other feed grasses, a major industry.
Matheny's home site remains, along with an ancient "old growth" tree in his front yard where with this plaque commemorates a pioneer Captain of Industry.
One thing about the current ferry, which runs continuously whenever traffic gathers. You can't depend on it to get to work. It stops during a power failure. It stops if the water is too high, or in excessive wind, or if the operator is sick. That hasn't changed since the old days. Its a lovely spot, though.