You Can Still Cross the Missouri River on a Ferry in Montana
I recently found out that Montana still has three fully functional river ferries. All three of them are located on the upper Missouri River in central Montana.
The Carter Ferry, the Virgelle Ferry, and the Stafford-McClelland Ferry operate seasonally in Montana. All three ferries are free and generally operate from April through late October or early November.
The Carter Ferry is located 27 miles north of Great Falls. It was built by Chouteau County in 1917. The Carter Ferry has been replaced twice. Once in 1945, and again in 2004. The ferry is capable of carrying to passenger vehicles at a time. You can use the ferry stop at the boat ramp on either side of the Missouri River. Just honk your horn or call from the phone located near each ramp to alert the ferry operator.
The Virgelle Ferry is located northeast of Fort Benton. It was built in 1913. Today, the Virgelle is used mostly for recreational activity. It has been used to carry over 30,00 vehicles across the Missouri River. The Virgelle Ferry consists of a 50-foot long steel frame and deck that's pulled by a power cable. There's a buzzer located near the ferry. Just ring the buzzer and the ferry operator will come to pick you and your vehicle up.
The Stafford-McClelland Ferry is located about 16 north of Winifred, Montana. It was built in 1921. There's a small mailbox located near the ferry with instructions on how to contact the ferry operator.
All three on the ferries operate from 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. If you want to experience a part of Montana's history and take a step into the past, this is definitely worth checking out.