A replica of Menor's Ferry once again is crossing the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park.
Park crews launched the ferry earlier this week. It serves as a central feature of the Menor/Noble historic district and is located just north of the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center. Park ranger naturalists offer free ferry rides daily between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. from Bill Menor’s general store to Dornan’s on the east bank and back. A ranger-led program also takes place each day at 2 p.m. and culminates in a ferry ride.
Menor’s Ferry consists of a platform deck which is set upon two pontoons for flotation. The ferry is tethered to a cable system that spans the river and operates by directing the pontoons toward the opposite riverbank, allowing the power of the current to push the craft across the river channel; the system uses river power—rather than motor power—to push the ferry across the water. This type of river travel once was widely used throughout the United States.
Menor’s Ferry offers a unique way to step back into the past. The ferry played a vital role in providing safe transport for passengers over the swift-flowing Snake River during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Prior to the ferry’s existence, the Snake River was essentially impassable from Wilson to Moran—except during low water periods in the fall and winter months.
As a man of vision, Bill Menor saw the need for a more convenient access across the Snake River and built and operated his ferry from 1894 until 1918 when he sold it to Maud Noble. Maud operated the ferry until 1927 when its use became obsolete after a steel truss bridge was constructed across the river, allowing for vehicles and foot traffic to cross without the assistance of a boat.
“Passing of the Ferry” by Ruth Patterson, 1927:
Old landmarks are vanishing;
One by one they are passing out.
The tourist with his modern ways
has brought this change about . .
Many things are changing fast;
even the faithful Menor's Ferry
has been moored to rest at last.
Although many things are changing fast, Menor’s Ferry was never “moored to rest for last.” Park visitors can experience a ride across the Snake River just as early residents of Jackson Hole did in earlier times.