Prominent business leaders including R.G. Porter, John Ruge, Dr. J.D. Morrow and Homer Marks sought an injunction to have the paving stopped. Many feared the roads project would bankrupt the county, but the construction continued.
The Gorrie Bridge was scheduled to begin construction in June 1926 and to be completed by June 1928. But in August 1928, a single piling had been driven and Apalachicola remained isolated from the majority of tourist traffic.
A Times editorial published August 14, 1926 said, “Two years ago, the county established a ferry at Blockers Ferry (across the Ochlocknee River); one man attended this ferry at the time and for some time afterwards. Now two men operating ferries are on duty during the day and one at night. The number of people in cars passing over the road from Lanark to Carrabelle is not known, but not one of those cars comes to Apalachicola.”
With the promised bridge not forthcoming, the county commission and a group of business leaders known as the “Exchange Club,” called for the establishment of ferry service across the Apalachicola River until the bridge could be completed.
First to attempt to establish a ferry were E.B. Smith and Peter Comforter, a local mortician. During the summer of 1926, they modified a shrimp boat to carry cars and built a dock north of Eastpoint. According to Joe Barber of Carrabelle, that ferry carried cars to the road to Sumatra. The service was apparently short-lived, possibly because the road north remained unpaved in the early 1940s making boats a more reliable way to reach Liberty County than cars.
After 1922, Andrew Wing already operated a regular ferry service between Apalachicola and Carrabelle. His boats also made charter trips to St. George Island. The same edition of the Times announcing the new Comforter ferry service carried an article that said the Wing Boat Line had made major changes to its rates and policy. Children under 12 would now ride for free, there would no longer be a charge for excess baggage and parties of 10 or more received a discount.
“Mr. Wing stated that he was serving a public he had known for 40 years and he wanted to give them the benefit of every advantage,” the article said.
In the same article, Wing announced he might add a bus connection in Carrabelle if business warranted.
In August, Wing addressed the Exchange Club with his plans for “establishing a “first class, adequate ferry, capable of maintaining a regular daily schedule in all but the most severe weather, equipped to carry a sufficient number of automobiles in a safe, comfortable manner.”
That same month, the Exchange Club issued a resolution endorsing Wing’s plan to run regular trips across the bay. The county commission granted Wing a subsidy to get his project up and running and, in late August, work was underway on ferry docks at the end of Avenue E in Apalachicola and at Sand Beach in Eastpoint.
Wing traveled to Milton to buy boats for the venture and returned in early September with the “Save Time,” described in the Times as a “completely new ferry boat formerly operating over the Escambia Bay,” and capable of carrying 12 cars.
As Florida prepared to send five trains on a national tour promoting her tropical attractions, Franklin County embarked on a plan to put signs along southward bound roads with the schedule for the Wing’s “Short Cut” Ferry and Comforter’s Ferry along the major tourist routes in Georgia, “to divert fall northern traffic to Apalachicola as much and as soon as possible.”
On Sept. 1, the Creel Brothers prepared barbeque for 75 people to celebrate the opening of the ferry dock in Eastpoint. The Save Time was piloted by C.E. Smith and made morning and afternoon trips across the bay between Apalachicola and Eastpoint. The trip took an hour. According to the Times, points reached from the ferry dock included Carrabelle, Fort Gadsden, Sumatra, Tallahassee, Quincy, Bristol, Telogia and Hosford. The cost was $1.10 per car. There was an additional charge for passengers and wagons were
In December, Will Davis, vice manager of the Standard Oil Company in Apalachicola, made a record drive of 110 miles in only four hours, from Monticello to Apalachicola via Tallahassee and Carrabelle, using Wing’s ferry.
“That a ferry line from Eastpoint to Apalachicola is a thoroughly wise and worthwhile venture is not to be disputed,” he said. “I am sure that I could not have made the trip in the same time three months ago.”
A second boat, the “Short Cut” was soon brought into service. The boats traveled from shore to shore twice daily and passed in mid river.
The signs advertising the new ferry service were erected to the north and almost immediately torn down by unknown vandals but Wing vowed to repost them and prosecute their attackers.
Business was good. In 1927, Wing purchased two larger boats capable of carrying 15 cars each and added a third trip to the schedule. The ferries left Apalachicola at 7 and 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and returned at 8:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Fares were up to $1.50 per car and driver, with an additional charge of 25 cents for passengers.
By the early 1930s, the ferries made constant trips across the river from dawn until dark and in 1933; Wing added a 2:30 a.m. trip from Eastpoint to Apalachicola on Saturday nights to accommodate folks returning from the dances held in Carrabelle.
The ferries ran until 1935 when the Gorrie Bridge was finally completed.
In an interview with his granddaughter, Wing said that the state government eventually bought the ferry and made passage free.
When the bridge finally opened, there was no need for the trusty boats. Wing retired.
In 1951, citizens of Franklin County voted overwhelmingly, 1,120 to 34, to build a bridge to St. George Island but the structure was not completed for 16 years. In the interim, the push was on to develop both Dog Island and St. George Island.
In 1953, Commissioner C.T. Miller went ferry boat shopping in York, Va. and returned with the Spica which, in the beginning, provided pasj sage to both islands.
But that’s another story. Next week, the Spica and the Sirius make the barrier islands accessible to the world.