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“Take this shortcut to avoid the Dundee Traffic” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Wheatland Ferry

Wheatland Ferry
Wheatland Road, Gervais, OR 97026
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Ranked #2 of 2 Attractions in Gervais
Type: Ferries/ Boats, Adventure
Attraction details
Dallas, Oregon
Top Contributor
59 reviews 59 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
72 helpful votes 72 helpful votes
“Take this shortcut to avoid the Dundee Traffic”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 14, 2012

Call ahead to check if it's running! The best way to get to Keizer or Woodburn from the West Willamette Valley!

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13 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Historic Ferry Trip”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2009

The Wheatland Ferry came as a nice surprise while we were making a trip from Salem to McMinnville via a lesser known route, picked out by our GPS (which did not indicate the ferry).
We expected nothing more interesting than the usual bridge, and were surprised to find this memorial of times past in full operation.

An underwater cable pulls the little ferry raft across, apparently. Two concrete towers on either side of the river support a high single cable, which supports a rolling trolley. It appears that the trolley simply contains rollers that track on this cable, to keep the boat from drifting and keep it on track with the drive cables, which are under water. A couple of cables drop from the metal trolley to the ferry craft, but they do not appear to supply any of the driving force (you can see them tracking slightly behind the motion of the boat, so they do not appear to be pulling it).

The wait to board was only a few minutes, and driving on was easy with the drop-down ramp. The boat holds three cars across, and looks as if it holds three in each line. We were first in line, and were underway before we even realized it. The motion is very smooth and gentle. In fact, for a few seconds we chatted about whether or not we were moving or it was just the gentle motion of the river flowing.

The fare is $2. You just drive on, turn off the motor and set the parking brake, and the ferry captain comes over to the window for the fare once you are underway. (We didn't ask what would happen if a person didn't have any cash -- maybe you can mail it or possibly face a traffic ticket otherwise!) . You can also ride across without a vehicle free, so if you just want to park the car, and take a ride back and forth, that might be possible (if a bit odd).

We supposed that the operation of the ferry was more economical than building a bridge at that point across the river, but regardless of the reason for it, it was quite a pleasant surprise for people who have only taken the massive Seattle Sound or Hudson River size ferry before. Don't know what the fare would be for a horse and rider... but it ought to be posted just for the nostalgic value!

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Oregon Coast
Top Contributor
795 reviews 795 reviews
286 attraction reviews
Reviews in 218 cities Reviews in 218 cities
2,072 helpful votes 2,072 helpful votes
“A fun little ride”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 28, 2008

About 10 miles north of Salem, there is a fun little car ferry that crosses the Willamette River. It is a very short ride, about 2-3 minutes, and is located in a scenic area. From Salem, go north on River Road or Hwy 221; from I-5 take Brooks exit to Wheatland. Cost is just $2.

There has been a ferry in this area for about 150 years, with the first modern one starting operations in 1917. It operates year-round, closing only on Thanksgiving and Christmas. In winter, it does not operate when the river reaches flood stage.

If you are wandering off the beaten track, the ferry ride is an enjoyable experience. Do use caution if driving a large pickup truck, as the lanes on the ferry are only about 8 feet wide..

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