Los Ebanos Ferry

29 03 2015

WP_20150329_009cThe main reason we’re in Mission is to check out the Los Ebanos Ferry.  This is the last hand pulled ferry operating on the Rio Grande between Mexico and the US.  Located about 20 minutes west of Mission, the tiny town of Los Ebanos was named after the famous Texas Ebony tree that was used to anchor the US side of the ferry cables.  The plaque next to the tree reads:

Apparently this is an ancient ford.  First recorded usage was by Spanish explorers and colonists under Jose de Escandon in 1740s on the Rio Grande.  A salt trail led from here to El Sal Del Rey (40 MI. NE) The ford was used by Mexican War troops, 1846; by Texas Rangers chasing cattle rustlers, 1874; by smugglers in many eras.  Especially during the American Prohibition years, 1920s and the 30s.  The ferry and inspection station were established in 1950.  Named for the Ebony Trees here, this is known as the only government licensed hand pulled ferry on any boundary of the United States (1974)

After crossing into Mexico in Big Bend National Park via row boat, we thought it appropriate to check out this similarly unique crossing.  The ferry is about the size of a large houseboat and can handle up to 3 vehicles at a time.  On the US side is a huge new immigration center that leads to a dirt road that descends to the river’s edge.  The driving ramps were just being raised as we walked down the road.  The thick cable that stretches across the river is pulled by 4 or 5 men as the ferry makes it way slowly across the river to a similer landing spot and road on the Mexican side.  Without any apparent facilities nearby, we opt not to cross, and instead only document our visit with photos.

This afternoon we’ll pack up and make the short trip to Harlingen where we’ll resupply before heading out to South Padre Island for the Easter holiday.  More from there…

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