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"Hite" ferry relocated to North Wash 1964/65

bob london

Well-Known Member
Call me sad but for months this photograph has been bugging me:

Hite ferry moved to North Wash 8-8-64.png

This is a picture of the ferry across the reservoir just two months after the site of the original (1946-64) Hite/Chaffin ferry was inundated. The water is flat: no guide cable is required and it must have been prop-driven.

Frustratingly, I just couldn't get a point of reference for this scene until, BINGO, I found this:

95 North Wash.jpg

Aha. Now I know what I'm looking at: This is Highway 95 wending its way down through North Wash and the cliffs beyond the ferry in the first photograph are those just south of the new/old/abandoned Hite marina on the east bank. In fact, I'm fairly sure the black and white ferry is docked on the left/east shore of the fledgling reservoir.

This is a fascinating and ongoing investigation which I'll keep updating unless, of course, JFR steals my thunder again.
 
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Rainbowbridge

Well-Known Member
Call me sad but for months this photograph has been bugging me:

View attachment 16138

This is a picture of the ferry across the reservoir just two months after the site of the original (1946-64) Hite/Chaffin ferry was inundated. The water is flat: no guide cable is required and it must have been prop-driven.

Frustratingly, I just couldn't get a point of reference for this scene until, BINGO, I found this:

View attachment 16139

Aha. Now I know what I'm looking at: This is Highway 95 wending its way down through North Wash and the cliffs beyond the ferry in the first photograph are those just south of the new/old/abandoned Hite marina on the east bank. In fact, I'm fairly sure the black and white ferry is docked on the left/east shore of the fledgling reservoir.

This is a fascinating and ongoing investigation which I'll keep updating unless, of course, JFR steals my thunder again.
How about thundering applause for finding that foto......Thanks!! 👏

So....what would you estimate the level rise?.....200'?
 

JFRCalifornia

Escalante-Class Member
Call me sad but for months this photograph has been bugging me:

View attachment 16138

This is a picture of the ferry across the reservoir just two months after the site of the original (1946-64) Hite/Chaffin ferry was inundated. The water is flat: no guide cable is required and it must have been prop-driven.

Frustratingly, I just couldn't get a point of reference for this scene until, BINGO, I found this:

View attachment 16139

Aha. Now I know what I'm looking at: This is Highway 95 wending its way down through North Wash and the cliffs beyond the ferry in the first photograph are those just south of the new/old/abandoned Hite marina on the east bank. In fact, I'm fairly sure the black and white ferry is docked on the left/east shore of the fledgling reservoir.

This is a fascinating and ongoing investigation which I'll keep updating unless, of course, JFR steals my thunder again.
Nice work, Bob! Assuming that first photo is anywhere from Aug 1964 to May 1965, the water level is 3491 +/- a foot... the lake level was held steady there for about 10 months to make sure they could generate power at the dam. When was the second picture taken? I agree the dirt road is old Highway 95 winding its way down North Wash around the hill to the right in the center of the photo, where it would hug the river all the way down to the old Hite ferry (across from White Canyon).

I'm attaching a couple of images from Google Earth where I tried to replicate the angle of the color photo, which looks southeast (I think). These are from over the end of North Wash in June 2013, when the lake was at about 3591. Then, as now, a remnant lake backs up in North Wash, cut off from the river--and that's the water that dominates the lower part of both images. The first image is more or less from about the same spot as your color image, or maybe the second one is, just hard to tell. Although I'm not sure I matched the elevation in the photo exactly, you get a pretty clear idea about the volume of silt that has built near the mouth of North Wash in the second image, which is from the same angle as the first but a little closer to the river...

North Wash 2 looking SE 13-06-25.jpgNorth Wash looking SE 13-06-25.jpg
 

drewsxmi

Well-Known Member
Here is another view from 1962 from the mouth of North Wash, looking downriver. My guess is that is is from the top of the little rise in the road visible in Bob London's second picture. Think of a family driving for hours down North Wash, finally getting to the Colorado, and stopping at a good viewpoint to take pictures, get out, and stretch their legs. The ferry photo would be approximately across the river from this point.
 

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Tiff Mapel

Well-Known Member
I was there at the mouth of North Wash on May 17th of this year. The first pic shows the current large parking area at the mouth, with North Wash off to my right out of view. The next pic is looking directly at the river, which I believe was flowing around 4,000 cfs that day...
Tiff
 

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bob london

Well-Known Member
OK. Let's deal first with the black and white photograph of the ferry dated 8-8-64:

I'm definitely not a photographer but I do know how lenses can affect the field of view etc. and play tricks with what the viewer of a photograph is seeing.

So, I've misspent hours comparing that '64 picture with what Google has to offer. A desert landscape with shadows is a nightmare to pin down: every Google aerial of that area from the last 30 years looks completely different.

Whatever. I've come up with something.

This is a mess of an aerial shot from 2013 fused with the 1960 topographical map of some US agency.

With any of these old landscape photographs, the best you can do is line up features that appear centrally from top to bottom and then 'ping' a line on an overhead shot.

The '64 photograph was taken on, or somehere near, the white line. Assuming the line is more or less accurate and with the contours overlaid, I've marked the probable position of the ferry at that time.

The "lake" is at 3485:

Ferry East Bank.jpg

I've still no idea how people/vehicles were connecting from this east bank landing to the main road though. Anyone?


I'll deal with the west bank/North Wash landing in my next deposit.

Happy hookin' etc ...
 
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Outside

Well-Known Member
OK. Let's deal first with the black and white photograph of the ferry dated 8-8-64:

I'm definitely not a photographer but I do know how lenses can affect the field of view etc. and play tricks with what the viewer of a photograph is seeing.

So, I've misspent hours comparing that '64 picture with what Google has to offer. A desert landscape with shadows is a nightmare to pin down: every Google aerial of that area from the last 30 years looks completely different.

Whatever. I've come up with something.

This is a mess of an aerial shot from 2013 fused with the 1960 topographical map of some US agency.

With any of these old landscape photographs, the best you can do is line up features that appear centrally from top to bottom and then 'ping' a line on an overhead shot.

The '64 photograph was taken on, or somehere near, the white line. Assuming the line is more or less accurate and with the contours overlaid, I've marked the probable position of the ferry at that time.

The "lake" is at 3485:

View attachment 16160

I've still no idea how people/vehicles were connecting from this east bank landing to the main road though. Anyone?


I'll deal with the west bank/North Wash landing in my next deposit.

Happy hookin' etc ...
Nice job with the fusing and pinging!
 

Colorado Expat

Active Member
If the river is still occupying the alignment shown in the 2013 photograph, running on top of the buried bluffs on the south side of the channel, it is not going to be much longer with a steadily dropping lake until it cuts down through the accumulated sediments and creates a pretty ferocious rapid at Hite, much like what happened at Pearce Ferry at the upper end of Lake Mead.

If I recall, someone from the Returning Rapids project already expressed similar concerns. The pullout for rafts coming out of Cataract Canyon is upstream of this, but it could make it very difficult to go further downstream in case they wanted to make the run to Bullfrog.
 
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bob london

Well-Known Member
You lot crack me up :) Great posts.

So this June 1963 photograph, enchanting as it is, serves no further purpose in my quest to understand the short-lived ferry at North Wash:

95 North Wash June '63.jpg

It, basically, gave me a bearing on the landscape. However, I thought it would be interesting to chalk/ping a line to get a handle on where the photographer was standing. An inquiring mind needs to know this stuff.

Everything in this composite is 100% accurate give or take 10%. I'm looking for loops in 'Highway' 95 on the way down to the Colorado:

North Wash June '63.jpg

You can zoom in on this if you're a member ;) I've marked two possible loops in Highway 95, A and B, where the photographer could have been standing. Both have their merits but I'd plump for B, if pressed.

Anyway, that's by the by now.

What all three of you are desperate to know is where the relocated "Hite" ferry connected with 95 in North Wash circa 64-65. Well, it certainly did for a while:

Ferry North Wash.jpg

This photograph is wrongly dated 26th June 1963 on the university site. This is the ferry somewhere up North Wash on the west bank of Powell in 1965. I'll be in touch with them to spank their bottoms.

OK, so we have an eyeball on the 64-65 ferry on both sides of the reservoir. Now it becomes more difficult to place the above photograph because I don't have any more visual sources.

But I DO have something of interest that can help approximate the location of the woman holding her toddler.

You'll just have to wait ...
 

JFRCalifornia

Escalante-Class Member
Okay Bob, I'm not going to steal any thunder here, but maybe offer a couple of clues which you can digest as food for thought. If you lived in the USA, I'd call it a substitution for Thanksgiving turkey, but over there maybe just a supplement to the usual bangers and mash.

Tom McCourt's book "White Canyon" provides the first clues. In there he includes a hand drawn map that shows the location of "Dandy Crossing", which may roughly coincide for the temporary Hite ferry of 64-65. Here's the map:

White Canyon town - McCourt.jpg

Now the scale on that map makes it look like an easy drive from Grandma's house at the end of the airstrip to the crossing, but if you look at the old topo, it's a longer drive and right up against the cliff for some time. Hard to see how that would work, unless... the water still hadn't risen that high, and you could still cross far enough to the south, where there was a wider flat-bottomed area on the east, which you could follow south to the airstrip and beyond. Up until June 1965, the lake held steady at 3491, so it might still have been possible to hug the eastern wall for a road on that side. Need better topo to confirm that, but here's the old pre-lake topo from North Wash to the old Hite ferry, which shows the route of the original Highway 95 on the west side of the river... It also calls the site of the Hite Ferry "Dandy Crossing", which contradicts McCourt's map. I've annotated it to show two possible crossings, labeled A and B. B is the one that I think is more plausible, and roughly coincides with McCourt's map:

USGS map detail anno.jpg


Now the other possibility is shown as Option A above. The crossing seems more straightforward, and the topo on the east side is good, but it doesn't lead anywhere. But perhaps someone blasted a temporary road to the east to connect with an existing dirt road near an airstrip north of Browns Rim. Possible, but a lot of road building, but possible if a connection could be made. That road also led to 95.

Here's a topo map showing the broader area and the two route options:

USGS map portion anno.jpg

Finally, there's a couple of clues in McCourt's text. It's vague, but here's what he says about the crossing:

Page 206. "The Dandy Crossing of the Colorado was almost due west of the present site of Hite Marina and near the mouth of North Wash. It was a little south from the base of the towering butte where John Wesley Powell camped and Jack Hillers photographed in 1872. It was at the site of the hardscrabble camp called "Crescent City" that Robert Stanton photographed in 1889."

He's refuting the USGS (and others) claim that Dandy Crossing was the same site of the 1946-64 Hite Ferry. He provides some pretty compelling evidence in the paragraphs that follow why this is the case. And it would seem this is a likely crossing point for the temporary ferry in 1964, since it was apparently an obvious crossing in the past. Then he talks about an old cedar post and rock chimney marking the western edge of the Dandy Crossing near the mouth of North Wash. He takes it from there:

Page 208. "The dark water crept up and covered the chimney, the stout cedar post, the Dandy Crossing of the Colorado, and Cass Hite's autograph, in the spring of 1965. A temporary ferryboat was constructed near the Dandy Crossing in the summer of 1964. The Hite Ferry was flooded in June of that year and "Hite City" was abandoned to her fate. As the water crept up the walls, the temporary ferry was set up to shuttle construction workers between North Wash and the future site of Hite Marina. The workers were building the new highway bridges over the Colorado and the Dirty Devil. The temporary boat remained in service, retreating higher and higher up the canyon walls, until the highway bridges were completed in 1966."

Now this passage suggests that the purpose of that temporary ferry was for bridge construction, and not as a through road. If that's the case, Highway 95 was broken until the bridges came online, and this seems to make some sense. It's possible that some crude dirt construction roads were made on the east side to help build the bridges, but that all equipment came from the west down 95 (and across the temporary ferry), at least at first. And yes, the water held steady at 3491 until the spring of 1965, when it rose dramatically to about 3530 by the August 1965. It would seem most of the bridge work would have had to have been compelled by then, and a connection to Highway 95 made to the east to access the construction site. And the fact the lake was held at exactly 3491 for months suggests that deliberate steadiness had something to do with keeping a consistent temporary ferry crossing until the bridges were completed, while keeping the lake minimally high enough to generate power. And 3491 was the “sweet spot” that accomplished both.

Page 219. "1964: The Hite ferry makes its last run on June 5 as the waters of the lake began to encroach on the ferry site. A temporary ferry is established near the mouth of North Wash until the river bridges are completed."

So my best guess is that while Option B seems the more plausible route if the purpose was to keep Highway 95 open before the bridges came online, the more likely possibility is that the crossing was something like Option A, and the road east was a dead end to serve construction of those bridges, and there was never a connection back to 95 headed east until the bridges opened.

Bob, prove me wrong. And you can have you thunder back. :)
 
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Richp47

Member
Interesting discussion.

Is there anyone left from the original construction project (perhaps now old timers in Hanksville), or are there any highway department records, to shed further light on the topic?

Rich Phillips
 

Colorado Expat

Active Member
You lot crack me up :) Great posts.

So this June 1963 photograph, enchanting as it is, serves no further purpose in my quest to understand the short-lived ferry at North Wash:

View attachment 16162

It, basically, gave me a bearing on the landscape. However, I thought it would be interesting to chalk/ping a line to get a handle on where the photographer was standing. An inquiring mind needs to know this stuff.

Everything in this composite is 100% accurate give or take 10%. I'm looking for loops in 'Highway' 95 on the way down to the Colorado:

View attachment 16163

You can zoom in on this if you're a member ;) I've marked two possible loops in Highway 95, A and B, where the photographer could have been standing. Both have their merits but I'd plump for B, if pressed.

Anyway, that's by the by now.

What all three of you are desperate to know is where the relocated "Hite" ferry connected with 95 in North Wash circa 64-65. Well, it certainly did for a while:

View attachment 16164

This photograph is wrongly dated 26th June 1963 on the university site. This is the ferry somewhere up North Wash on the west bank of Powell in 1965. I'll be in touch with them to spank their bottoms.

OK, so we have an eyeball on the 64-65 ferry on both sides of the reservoir. Now it becomes more difficult to place the above photograph because I don't have any more visual sources.

But I DO have something of interest that can help approximate the location of the woman holding her toddler.

You'll just have to wait ...
The photo you show of the road is almost certainly taken at your Point B, because you can see the road dropping down into and then coming back up out of a gulch. That does not happen looking east from Point A. After the gulch the road crosses a small promontory with a slight bump between the road and the river - the topo indicates that is Point A, as seen from Point B.

Because you have a cattle guard and a fence line, all you need to do to confirm this further is look up the old land parcel maps and see where the road crossed a parcel boundary. You might be able to find that information on the county cadastral site, since most of these in the US have moved to online viewers now.
 

bob london

Well-Known Member
Interesting stuff, John.

Could this be Grandma's house?

Approaching airstrip at White Canyon near Grandma's.jpg

From the maps and photographs I've seen, the track on the east bank of the Colorado never went much further north than the airstrip due to the lay of the land. So I reckon 'Option B' is a non-starter.

I'm interested in McCourt's recollection of the location of 'Dandy Crossing'. Dick Sprang (you couldn't make up such a name) knew the area well and was keen to point out that Dandy Crossing was not at the Chaffin ferry site but slightly upstream, opposite the mouth of Farley Canyon:

"You hit the river directly from Farley and at the point where the old Dandy Crossing was located. It was a ford and travelers used the big island appearing there at low water stage to reduce their time in the water. The USGS HITE quad is mistaken in labelling Dandy Crossing being at the Hite Ferry."

Hey ho. Both of these locations, Farley and North Wash, had massive sand bars at their mouths making for a dandy excursion across the mighty river so we'll call it a draw, yeah? My money is still on Farley though.

Yes, John. I'd say 'Option A' is the more likely scenario: Highway 95 was in the process of being re-routed to cross the Colorado over Narrow, then over the Dirty Devil and on to join back with its original course (more of which later).

I read somwhere that the spur road down to Hite Marina (RIP) has a State Highway designation, or somesuch, of its own. I think that when the construction folk were bulldozing their way from the old 95, where it crossed White Canyon, towards the site of the future bridge at Narrow, they took a left turn and graded the road down to the area of the future marina (RIP) as a priority.

Ah, it's all beginning to fall into place. The road, track probably, to Hite Marina (RIP) was there in some form by August 1964.

Hite Marina (RIP) would be poured nine years later in 1973 [citation needed].

A short-lived ferry operated, for a year or so, between this area on the east bank and what was left of Highway 95 in North Wash to the west.

It's all so obvious.

Next time, I'll try to locate the ferry landing on the west side ...
 

bob london

Well-Known Member
The photo you show of the road is almost certainly taken at your Point B, because you can see the road dropping down into and then coming back up out of a gulch. That does not happen looking east from Point A. After the gulch the road crosses a small promontory with a slight bump between the road and the river - the topo indicates that is Point A, as seen from Point B.

Absolutely. Spot on.
 
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