Canby Ferry: A Semiotic Analysis

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As crazy as it might seem, bridges haven 't always spanned the Willamette Valley 's waterways. Dating back to the mid-1800s, these heavily trafficked highways led travelers from the budding Rose City to ferries that, for a fee, carried people, livestock, wagons and cars across various rivers.

Throughout the state 's history, more than 500 of the boats traversed Oregon 's rivers and lakes.

"Almost every pioneer community, especially those in the Willamette Valley, was tied to the rest of the territory by roads or trails crossing at least one waterway on a ferry, so ferries were essential facts of life," wrote the late Charles F. Query in 2008 's "A History of Oregon Ferries since 1826."

Today, only a few remain, including the Canby Ferry,
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With the help of Geoff Wexler, library director of the Oregon Historical Society, I 've pulled together a brief history of the three ferries that now only exist as road names in the Portland area.

Boones Ferry: Maybe you 've heard of this guy Daniel Boone, one of the country 's most famous fur-pelt-wearing frontiersmen. His grandson, Alphonso Boone, trekked to Oregon via the Applegate wilderness trail in 1846. A year later, Alphonso 's enterprising son, Jesse, began operating a ferry across the Willamette, just west of the current site of the Interstate 5 Boone Bridge at Wilsonville.

Alphonso died three years later in northern California, searching for gold, claimed by what the history books describe only as "miner 's disease." The ferry operation was eventually sold. The Oregon highway commission took control of the conveyance at the turn of the century – when a trip for a horse and buggy cost 25 cents -- and decommissioned
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The Oregon Journal/1954 The ferry crossing site is still visible from the southbound lanes of the Boone Bridge.

Scholls Ferry: In 1847, settler Peter Scholl, also from Kentucky and of the Daniel Boone bloodline, took up a donation claim at the end of the Oregon Trail and started what became one of the Tualatin River 's most vital crossings. Scholl died in Portland in 1872. A bridge eventually replaced the ferry.

Taylors Ferry: New Yorker John A. Taylor crossed the plains with an ox team in 1852 and promptly built a ferry crossing on the Tualatin River, about 10 miles from Portland. He was more industrious than Boone and Scholl. He eventually built a toll bridge on his own to replace the ferry. At one time, Taylor was also the judge of Washington County and postmaster of the Taylors Ferry poster office.

There you go. Impress your neighbors and co-workers with your sudden (and astounding) knowledge of the ferry roads. Maybe next time we 'll talk about the dinosaurs of Washington County, starting with the Wooly Mammoths that once followed the ice age trail that is now Tualatin 's Southwest

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