Although the experience only lasts a few minutes, I’ve never forgotten how magical it was to discover the Fort Gates Ferry.
My brother had sent me a link to an incredible blog by Tom Rose that related the history of the ferry (which is Florida’s oldest), which put my desire to take it in overdrive.
Getting there – which (from the west side, at least) requires driving into the Ocala National Forest on Highway 19 near Salt Springs and then INTO the forest itself for a drive down a long dirt avenue called Forest Roads 62 and 29. From there, you simply wait for the ferry.
The ferry, simply a single floating barge propelled by a single small boat, accommodates a limited number of vehicle (trucks, cars, motorcycles) at a time and arrives once you reach the shore and honk your horn for service.
Its remote location, the nostalgic feeling of the fish camp/motor court on the eastern shore, the few and far-spread homes along its shores, the pure beauty of the St. Johns River, make this Old Florida experience a must.
Except on Tuesday when it’s closed.
NOTE: There’s talk of modernizing the operation. I hope that doesn’t happen – so see it now in case it does.
IF YOU GO
Captain Dale Jones
229 Fort Gates Ferry Road