Mississippi River Old Ferry Landing

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Marker Name: Mississippi River Old Ferry Landing Port Allen – Baton Rouge Site 1820-1968

Marker Dedicated: November 14, 2004, during the annual Ethel Claiborne Dameron Lecture Series.
Marker Sponsor: The City of Port Allen 2003

Marker Location: top of the levee at the Old Ferry Landing; Court Street at the Mississippi River; Port Allen, LA 70767

Marker Text: Horses and wagons first used the ferry, then gradually giving way to cars and trucks. Pedestrian traffic was always an important part of the ferry service. At one time all east-west traffic traveling on U.S. 190 crossed the Mississippi River at this site.

Background: Former Port Allen Mayor, Lynn Robertson, worked for many years with a multitude of folks to bring the Port Allen levee top improvements to reality. The Mayor was approached in 2003 to provide a historic marker to share the history of this important site with residents and visitors.

During the annual Ethel Claiborne Dameron Lecture Series, Harold C. “Coley” Hill, Jr. shared his fascinating stories about life on the ferries; Port Allen native Susan Hymel recounted her research on George West, alas the River Preacher, who would dress in white and greet the ferry riders; and Sharon Boudreaux-Stam, Director of West Baton Rouge’s Tourist Information Center, talked about the Old Ferry Landing as a tourist attraction. A very special guest for the event was Keisha West, the great niece of George West, who had recently completed a painting of her great uncle.

Port Allen City Councilman Ralph Bergeron was on hand along with West Baton Rouge (WBR) Historical Association President Ellis Gauthier to unveil the marker perched high atop the levee. “Coley” Hill worked with Mary Helen & Jim Charleville to develop the marker wording. Both Coley and Jim’s fathers had served many years with the ferries and have lots of wonderful stories and memories atop the landing. Now the old Ferry Landing, where thousands of cars and people traveled daily, can be remembered for years to come. What a beautiful view of the river and Baton Rouge from the Westside levee top!!

For more information: 
• Morning Advocate, September 11, 1960
• State Times, June 24, 1968
• West Side Tri-Parish Shopper, Volume 1, No. 34 June 7, 2004
• West Side Tri-Parish Shopper, April 19, 2004
• The Advocate, April 15, 2004
• West Side Journal July 10, 2003
• Riverside Reader Currents, Volume 10, No. 41, June 14, 2004
• Sunday Advocate, June 6, 2004
• Country Roads Magazine, “River Preacher” article by Susan Hymel, October 2004
• Along the River Road by Mary Ann Sternberg, page 202
• Chronicles of West Baton Rouge by Elizabeth Kellough and Leona Mayeux, 1979, pages 167-168
• Program dedication November 14, 2004
• “The Baton Rouge/Port Allen Ferries” by Harold C. Hill, Jr. April 2004
• West Baton Rouge Historical Association (collection photographs)
• State Historic marker files at the West Baton Rouge Museum
• Reference files at the West Baton Rouge Museum and Library