Ironton Ferry – Michigan

Growing up along the Mississippi River, ferries were a major means of transportation. It was only after the Interstate system was built that many of the ferries were discontinued. As we travel, we enjoy ferry transportation whenever available. One of the most interesting ferry trips was on the Ironton Ferry near Charlevoix, MI.The south arm of Lake Charlevoix is home to Ironton Ferry. It is a four car cable ferry crossing a narrow point and operates April to November. Crossing at Ironton, the Ferry Road will take you to Boyne City. This was the first cable ferry crossing for both of us.

Full load coming

Although the ferry began operation in 1883, it became famous in 1936. The ferry captain, Sam Alexander, was listed in the Ripley’s Believe It or Not. While captain from 1900 to 1948, he traveled 15,000 miles without being more than 1,000 feet from his home. The ride across the lake is said to be the shortest ferry ride – 610 feet.

The first fare for crossing was $.30, today it is $3.00 for vehicle and passengers. The trip across is approximately five minutes. The ferry is powered by a diesel engine with propellers at each end enabling it to push or stop the ferry. Since there are no rudders, two cables guide the ferry. Because of her restricted maneuverability the ferry always has the right of way.

The day we crossed, we were the only vehicle. There was also a bicyclist crossing. We both enjoyed talking with the deckhand and taking pictures.

A few days after we had our ferry adventure, we were walking in the RV park and stopped to talk with another RVer. Wouldn’t you know, he was a former boat captain on the Ironton Ferry. Just goes to show, you never know who you will meet along the way or how they will be connected to your travels.

Retired Ferry Captain

Happy travels and many adventures along your journey.

Short ride, great view

Crossing ticket


Pilot House

Waiting at dock

Headed across




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