A Mississippi River ferry business closed for three days because of sand blocking one of its landings.
The Dorena-Hickman Ferry at Mile 922.0 connects Ky. 1354 near Hickman, Ky., with Missouri Route KY 1354 at Hickman, Ky., with Missouri Route A and Route 77 near Dorena, Mo.
“The ferry shut down around noon today due to accumulated sand that is blocking access to the Missouri landing,” the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said June 20 in a news release. “The sediment has filled in along the Missouri shoreline, preventing the ferry from being able to load and unload vehicles.”
The ferry reopened the morning of June 23, Capt. Jeremy Newsom said. He has operated the ferry since 2013.
Newsom said it took a contractor with a long-reach track hoe capable of moving the accumulated sediment.
The ferry has had occasional issues with sand blocking the landing since a high-water period about a year and a half ago. It had sand removed from the landing last year as well.
This time, he said, “About 30 feet out, I was just hitting a wall of sand.”
Newsom said the sand accumulated near a natural eddy in the current.
“It never used to be this bad,” Newsom said of the sand accumulation. “I don’t know what changed.”
The ferry is an important transportation link between Kentucky and Missouri for daily commuters and farmers, said Keith Todd, spokesman for Kentucky Transportation Cabinet district 1, which covers far western Kentucky.
“A lot of farmers use it,” he said. “I had calls from farmers trying to get farm equipment back and forth.”
That is especially important as soybean farmers try to plant their fields this time of year, he said.
The ferry is also a tourist attraction for the region. It provides a convenient route between southeast Missouri and popular fishing and recreation areas around Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee, Todd said.
Additionally, Missouri and Kentucky have the geographic distinction of being the only border states in the country not directly connected by a road or bridge, Todd said. The only direct route between the states is the Dorena-Hickman Ferry.
The Dorena-Hickman Ferry normally operates with regular river crossings seven days a week from 7 a.m. on the Kentucky side or 7:30 on the Missouri side until dusk. Passage for single vehicles up to 8 feet wide and 30 feet long, including cars and pickup trucks, is $14 with additional tolls for trucks, motor homes and vehicles pulling trailers. Return passage is half price. Pedestrians are $1.
More information is available at www.dorena-hickmanferryboat.com/.
Caption for photo: Sand accumulating on the Missouri landing of the Dorena-Hickman Ferry caused the ferry to close for three days earlier this month. The ferry’s operator said sand is becoming a periodic nuisance. (photo courtesy Kentucky Transportation Cabinet)