Montana Outdoors

February 11, 2011


Filed under: Winter — Tags: — montucky @ 12:21 am

Along the Flathead River before it joins the Clark Fork River, some twenty miles upriver from my home, there is a small ranch that does not have a road to it. Access to the ranch from the highway is by a small, old, car ferry in summer and an old hovercraft in winter.

Just downriver from my home there is a series of three rapids on the Clark Fork River.

Yesterday as I drove past the middle of the three rapids rapids I noticed a “shipwreck” just off the near shore. It seems that the old ferry had not been properly secured and for some reason had taken a solo journey downstream and was finally caught up on the rocks just below the head of the rapids.

I’m quite happy that I am not the one who must attempt to salvage it.

Old car ferry

Old car ferry

Old car ferry

Old car ferry


  1. I hope they have good luck on the salvage but it looks like it might have been easier at a slower spot in the river. Hope it dosen’t get cold again that could complicate things to.


    Comment by Jim — February 11, 2011 @ 5:21 am

    • I don’t know what they did, but I suspect they were able to free it, float it down a few miles and take it apart to haul it back. that’s all that makes sense.


      Comment by montucky — February 11, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

  2. I agree, I sure wouldn’t want to have to salvage that at this time of year. Too bad for the people who own it, it’s probably not an easy thing to replace.


    Comment by farmhouse stories — February 11, 2011 @ 5:46 am

    • I’m sure it would be hard to replace, but I’ll bet they can save it.


      Comment by montucky — February 11, 2011 @ 10:52 pm

  3. Fail! 😀 That’s not a very nice way to end one’s winter…


    Comment by J. P. Cabit — February 11, 2011 @ 8:29 am

    • That would be tough. Well, they have until spring o fix it or replace it.


      Comment by montucky — February 11, 2011 @ 10:53 pm

  4. How sad, I have a real love of ferries and love riding the few basic car ferries that are still running in our delta area. I hope this one can be salvaged and put back into service.


    Comment by anniespickns — February 11, 2011 @ 9:07 am

    • I’ll bet this will be running again in the spring. When I was a kid, there was one not much different from this one that was actually in service at a crossing on one of the state highways.


      Comment by montucky — February 11, 2011 @ 10:54 pm

  5. Hi Montucky, Great photographs! I hope for the sake of the owner of the ferry that he or she can find a way to get the rig back to where it belongs before another person gets the salvage done (tho I don’t know if the same rules apply in fresh water as in the ocean). Have an excellent day!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — February 11, 2011 @ 10:25 am

    • Around here, whatever happens it will be for the benefit of the person who owns it. It has been moved from that spot, but I don’t know where it is.


      Comment by montucky — February 11, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

  6. Yikes! That would be some chilly wading.


    Comment by Daveabirding — February 11, 2011 @ 10:33 am

    • Chilly is right, but that’s not wadeable even in summer. Good fishing though!


      Comment by montucky — February 11, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

  7. Yikes, I guess that is a necessary piece of equipment for them. Hope they get it back in working order in time.


    Comment by Candace — February 11, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

    • Quite necessary, and I would imagine it would be extremely expensive if they had to replace it. They’ll figure it out.


      Comment by montucky — February 11, 2011 @ 10:58 pm

  8. oh my goodness! frigid!!!! bad luck! nice photos though!


    Comment by silken — February 11, 2011 @ 1:12 pm

  9. Terry:

    A job for the US Coast Guard?



    Comment by Chad — February 11, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

    • That might be a little overkill, but I bet they would welcome the help (and the expertise)!


      Comment by montucky — February 11, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

  10. That is too bad. Have you ever crossed on that ferry? That current looks awfully strong there.


    Comment by sandy — February 11, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

    • Not on that one. It just crossed to a private ranch, and there current is much smoother there. At this point it would be impossible. It is possible to get a jet boat through that rapid, but that’s all, other than kayaks floating through.


      Comment by montucky — February 11, 2011 @ 11:01 pm

  11. That rapid looks fun for a kayak, but I think the old ferry has met it’s match!


    Comment by flowerweaver — February 11, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

    • There is kayak and inflatable boat traffic there in summer. I’ll bet that old ferry will be taken apart, hauled back upriver and repaired by spring.


      Comment by montucky — February 11, 2011 @ 11:02 pm

  12. Dramatic photos. The water sure looks very cold. I hope the owners are able to rescue it one piece.


    Comment by kateri — February 11, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

    • That would be a cold job, but I hope they can save it too. I’d bet on it.


      Comment by montucky — February 11, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

  13. Getting that ferry out of there will take some work. Hard to tell from the look of it whether the salvage would be worth the effort.



    Comment by knightofswords — February 11, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

  14. Gosh and I thought I had a bad week!! ; )


    Comment by kcjewel — February 11, 2011 @ 10:37 pm

    • Yeah, if I owned it that wouldn’t have made my week either. In summer they actually take a small tractor across on that ole ferry, and a hay baler has been taken across as well as their truck. It’s quite a sight. Last summer I just missed getting a picture of it in operation.


      Comment by montucky — February 11, 2011 @ 11:06 pm

  15. How sad to read about this. I do hope that everything will go the best way.

    BTW, I love Your photos. They presented this in a good photo report way!


    Comment by sartenada — February 12, 2011 @ 2:38 am

    • Some time later I will follow up on this. I really think that by spring that old ferry will be operational again.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

  16. Spring is coming and the salvage operation might be much easier at that time of year, especially when the water gets a little less vibrant, but not so low it can’t be moved upstream.

    Great photos, quite a contraption this ferry!


    Comment by Bill — February 12, 2011 @ 6:27 am

    • Actually, I doubt that it could be moved upstream. A good jet boat can make it through both sets of rapids, but not with that in tow. I’ll try to keep track of it. It has been moved already and I think downstream where it can be towed into a big backwater for handling.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2011 @ 8:00 pm

  17. Oh my goodness! Look at those white caps in the icy rapids! Great shots of the shipwrecked old hovercraft.


    Comment by Anna — February 12, 2011 @ 11:24 am

    • Yes, that’s a pretty good rapids. Very strong current and very deep water in the middle.A few miles downstream it widens and the surface smooths out a lot.


      Comment by montucky — February 12, 2011 @ 8:02 pm

  18. Nooo now those people can’t get to their ranch? Do they live there, too? OMGosh that’s awful! I hope nobody gets hurt! YiKeS!


    Comment by Tricia — February 15, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

    • I don’t think that anyone stays at the ranch in winter now, and I haven’t heard of anyone getting hurt. I haven’t had a chance to see if the old ferry has been moved back to where it stays or not. I will try to follow up on it if possible.


      Comment by montucky — February 15, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

  19. What an amazing series of icey cold winter images. Quite a scene. WOW!


    Comment by Marcie — February 15, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

    • It was a rather striking scene when I first saw it. I have been long used to seeing the rapids, but not with a structure in the middle.


      Comment by montucky — February 15, 2011 @ 8:37 pm

  20. Oh my… that rancher is lucky to have a hovercraft as an alternative means across the river! What a mess for him.

    Once years ago, on a trip with Dad to visit a farmer somewhere outside of Cut Bank, MT, we had to drive across a ford in a river by aiming the car at something on the other shore. Going over was no problem… but somehow coming back the car didn’t stay on the ford and into the river we went… near enough to the ford that we all got out of the car and walked to shore but deep enough that the car was under water up to the top of the hood… a Studebaker…started right up no problem after getting a tow out of the river with the farmer’s tractor!


    Comment by Victoria — February 18, 2011 @ 7:54 am

    • My old Jeep has forded many a stream, but of course this river is much too big for that.

      When I was a kid my folks had a Studebaker too, in fact they had a 1948 model and then replaced that with a 1952. I loved those cars! They are in many good memories of camping, fishing and hunting trips and they forded a few streams too. (Not as deep as the one you were in though.)


      Comment by montucky — February 18, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: