Near Merrimac in Columbia County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
The Merrimac Ferry
The fee charged by early ferrymen for taking a team and wagon across the river was well earned, for their muscles provided a good share of the ferry’s power until a gasoline engine was added around 1900.
The ferry changed hands several times before Matt’s Ferry Road was added to the state system in 1923 and Columbia and Sauk Counties took over its operation. The name Colsac is a phonetic derivation of the two county names. The State of Wisconsin assumed responsibility for the maintenance and operation of the ferry in 1933, after which the service was provided without charge.
Erected 1973 by the Wisconsin Historical Society
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Roads & Vehicles • Settlements & Settlers • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Wisconsin Historical Society series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1848.
Location. 43° 21.94′ N, 89° 37.146′ W. Marker is near Merrimac, Wisconsin, in Columbia County. Marker is on State Highway 113, on the right when traveling north. Marker is at the wayside near the east bank (south side) of the Wisconsin River, just east of the ferry crossing. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Merrimac WI 53561, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. St. Mary's of the Pines (approx. 5.2 miles away); Civilian Conservation Corps (approx. 5.6 miles away); Hard at Work (approx. 5.6 miles away); Building a Park System (approx. 5.6 miles away); Camp Life (approx. 5.6 miles away); Building a Nation (approx. 5.6 miles away); Historic Tree (approx. 6 miles away); North Shore Hotel Era (approx. 6.2 miles away).
More about this marker. Merrimac is in Sauk County; marker is in Columbia County.
Regarding The Merrimac Ferry. The Merrimac Ferry is still a sturdy
In Wisconsin, for instance, the former Division of Highways built a new Interstate bridge across the Wisconsin River at Portage, then found that thousands of motorists were still driving 25 miles out of their way to wait in line for a chance to cross the river little faster than they could walk.
The trip is free; the scenery superb. But the main factor in its popularity is pure nostalgia... one of the reasons it survived the bridge boom of the early 1900s and is now the only ferry remaining on the state trunk highway network.
The peak of the season comes in August when up to 1,200 vehicles a day create a line up of 50 or more vehicles waiting their turn for the ferry. Small stands line the road on both approaches, dispensing soft drinks and ice cream at a staggering rate.
No accurate counts exist to determine the number of tourists, but estimates are in the range of 150,000 to 200,000—not bad for a village with less than 300 population.
Source: excerpt from http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/water/merrimac-history.htm
Credits. This page was last revised on October 14, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 29, 2007, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 3,157 times since then and 212 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on July 29, 2007, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. 2. submitted on June 4, 2013, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. 3. submitted on July 29, 2007, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on July 30, 2007, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. 10. submitted on June 4, 2013, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. 11. submitted on August 1, 2007, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page.