On Monday, April 1, 2002, the Daniel Matheny V, named after
its original owner, hauled its first three cars from Yamhill
County to the Marion County side north of Keizer at 5:30am.
An estimated 250-300 drivers took advantage of free fares
celebrating its first day of service. A free boat ride in
the spring sunshine between 5:30 am and its closing at 9:45pm.
At 5:30pm, the ferry took a break so the Marion County commissioners
and members of the Matheny family could celebrate, and the
ferry hauled dozens of pedestrians across the river and back.
"It's cool," said 7-year-old Devereaux Clark, a
Matheny relative. "And I think it's faster than the old
One commercial ferry or another has crossed the Willamette
River from Yamhill County to Marion County for 158 years.
The two counties ordered a new ferry after learning that the
needed repairs to the old vessel would cost too much.
The new boat and landing improvements will cost about $1.8
million. The ferry is expected to decrease commute times because
it can hold nine cars, three more than the previous boat.
On Monday, passengers applauded the smooth ride, the free
fares, and the convenience of having a ferry to ride on instead
of driving to a bridge. "It's pretty," said Claude
Darden of Eugene, who crossed to visit friends with his wife.
"I'm really glad it's open again."
The one problem, riders said, was that some car undercarriages
loudly scraped the ferry deck when driving on and off. "Some
vehicles scraped on the old ferry also," said Sam Stedman,
Marion County Bridges and Ferries Supervisor.
Other glitches emerged Monday in the ferry's electric circuitry
and computer system. "Discovering such minor problems
was expected," Stedman said, "and they should be
fixed in a week or soon after." Those problems aren't
expected to affect service. "I'm pleased with it. We've
had a lot of compliments. We're just happy to have the project
coming to an end."
The Wheatland Ferry fares will be as follows.
Dual-Axle Trucks: $4.00
Vehicles with Trailers: $2.75
Vehicles that take up the entire ferry by weight or size:
Pedestrians and bicyclists always ride free.
Statesman Journal, Local section, by Cara Roberts Murez,
April 2, 2002