A Look Back: The Scotia Ferry

color enhanced photo of a flat ferry with wooden rails on the banks of a murky brown river, a horse and wagon onboard.

Prior to the completion of bridges on the Eel River, traffic had to utilize ferries to cross north of Scotia (a bridge between Rio Dell and Scotia) photo taken in 1914. – Carl Young [Photo color enhanced by Carl Young]

Ferry usage in Humboldt County continues today in the most rural areas where access is cut off when river levels rise. However, it was common practice along the rugged North Coast, where ferry usage dates back to the mid-19th century. As settlers and prospectors flocked to the region during the Gold Rush era, the need for reliable transportation across the numerous waterways became evident. Ferries quickly became a crucial component of the county’s transportation infrastructure, providing a vital link between isolated communities and facilitating the movement of goods and people.
One of the most notable ferries in Humboldt County was the Scotia Ferry, which operated across the Eel River near the town of Scotia. Established in the early 1900s, the Scotia Ferry played a pivotal role in connecting the timber-rich areas on both sides of the river, enabling the transportation of logs and facilitating the growth of the local lumber industry.
Carl Young shares this pick of the Scotia Ferry, circa 1914, when travel often meant traversing rivers by ferries before continuing on over land.
Over time, as bridges and roadways developed, the reliance on ferries diminished, but their historical significance remains embedded in the county’s past, reminding residents of the challenges and ingenuity that shaped Humboldt County’s development.

Note: Carl Young brings back old photos to life by colorizing them. He often posts his enlivened photos on Humboldt County, California in pictures, old and new.

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Hick
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Hick
1 month ago

I remember “Butch”, the ferryman at Macan . He helped me get my truck 🛻 unstuck. That was back in the eighties. Heck of a nice guy!

Glenn Thomas Franco SimmonsD
Member
Glenn Thomas Franco Simmons
1 month ago
Reply to  Hick

That ferry ran until the 1970s or so, didn’t it?

John
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John
1 month ago

I love seeing these colorized pictures from the old days. They really show how people lived, that these were modern times to the people who lived during the days when they were taken. Hell, they were modern times to the people in photos taken during the 1960s and the 1970s, even though some people viewing them may not readily grok that concept.

Glenn Thomas Franco SimmonsD
Member
Glenn Thomas Franco Simmons
1 month ago

Fascinating history. Thank you. Does anyone know what the cement dam-like structure behind the Scotia ballpark was for? Recreation? To keep water in the river for the ferry or is it too far up from this location? Always wondered and never got a chance to ask the late Eagle Prairie historian Evelyn McCormick what it was. She knew everything about Scotia and Rio Dell.