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The Valley View Ferry provides passage over the Kentucky River in rural central Kentuckymarker. Located on Kentucky Route 169, it helps connect auto traffic between the county seats of Richmondmarker in Madison Countymarker and Nicholasvillemarker in Jessamine Countymarker. The ferry was founded in 1785, predating Kentucky's admission to the Unionmarker in 1792. It is widely regarded as the commonwealth's oldest continually operating business.

John Craig, a Virginiamarker veteran of the Revolutionary War, acquired land in the area in 1780 through a military warrant. In 1785, the Virginia General Assemblymarker granted Craig "a perpetual and irrevocable" franchise to operate a ferry. Daniel Boone, Henry Clay and Ulysses S. Grant were among its passengers. The ferry remained a privately owned business for more than 200 years, passing through the hands of seven successive families until 1991. It was then purchased jointly by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Governmentmarker and Madisonmarker and Jessaminemarker counties for $60,000.

The rudderless ferry is guided by cables stretching between four 55-foot towers. The current boat, named the "John Craig" after the franchise's original owner, dates to 1996. The vessel it replaced sustained heavy damage after sinking under the weight of a heavy snowfall and then as a result of salvage efforts. The entire ferry site was renovated in 1998, when authorities replaced the four towers and their cables. Two years later, the ferry authority received a federal grant allowing an upgrade of the barge. The new vessel, longer than its predecessor by ten feet, enables the ferry to carry three cars instead of two.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet funds the ferry as a free service. On average it transports 250 cars a day.

Popular culture

The ferry appeared in background scenes of the 1967 George C. Scott film The Flim-Flam Man.


  1. On-site historical marker, referenced in

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