Vehicles load onto the Dorena-Hickman Ferry to cross the Mississippi River between Hickman, Ky., and Dorena, Mo. The ferry is back in service after a week’s closure because of difficulty obtaining the necessary parts for repairs. (Photo courtesy of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet)

Ferry Operations Resume After Parts Obtained

A ferry has reopened following a week-long closure caused by the inability of the operator to receive parts for repairs in a timely manner.

The Dorena-Hickman Ferry, at Lower Mississippi Mile 922.0, reopened about 4 p.m. November 12, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. It had been closed since the evening of November 5.

Capt. Jeremy Newsom indicated that the closure was caused by difficulty obtaining parts that control movements of one of the ferry barge’s landing ramps. Parts to repair the ramp control mechanism were originally expected to arrive within a few days, but as repairs progressed, some additional parts were required, Kentucky Transportation District 1 spokesman Keith Todd said. With supply chain shortages, it was not immediately clear when the parts could be located and shipped, so the ferry had closed down indefinitely until it obtained them and completed the repairs. Ultimately, the motor that controls the ramp had to be rebuilt.

The ferry connects Ky. 1354 in Hickman, Ky., with Missouri Route A and Route 77 near Dorena, Mo. It is the only direct connection between the states of Kentucky and Missouri. The states have a geographic distinction within the country as the only two neighboring states not connected by a road or bridge.

Detours by vehicle are lengthy, with the nearest crossings roughly 50 miles either upriver, at Caruthersville, Mo., or downriver, at Dyersburg, Tenn. The ferry service is roughly 180 years old and was once pulled by mules using cables strung across the river. The Dorena-Hickman Ferry is operated during daylight hours only by the Mississippi County (Mo.) Ferry Authority and subsidized by both states. Most passengers pay a $14 fee, with additional tolls for larger trucks, motor homes and vehicles pulling trailers, and a half-price return fee.