The Valley View Ferry primarily services the residents of Fayette, Jessamine, and Madison counties. It is the oldest year-round ferry service in the United States and the last ferry remaining on the Kentucky River. We drove down one afternoon to check it out and my boys thought it was great to ‘drive’ across the river!
We crossed then drove into Madison County a piece, turned around, and came back across. Be sure to check that it is open and operating before you go (it closes for high water or maintenance occasionally). It only takes a few minutes to get across but it’s a great, free, unique little trip!
HOURS OF OPERATION: (See NOTE below)
- Monday through Friday – 6 AM to 6 PM.
- Saturday and Sunday – 8 AM to 8 PM.
- Closed on Christmas Day.
VEHICLES OVER 24 FT IN LENGTH OR OVER 24 TONS TOTAL WEIGHT ARE NOT ALLOWED DUE TO SIZE AND WEIGHT RESTRICTIONS.
NOTE: The ferry may be closed in the event of high water, or for inspection/repair purposes. When the ferry is not operating, the suggested alternate route between Nicholasville and Richmond is US-27S to Lancaster in Garrard County, then KY-52E to Richmond. The suggested alternate route between Lexington and Richmond is I-75.
The Valley View Ferry is a free service. It operates with funding from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the fiscal courts of Madison and Jessamine counties and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government
The Valley View Ferry is located on the Kentucky River at Tates Creek Rd (KY-169) at the Fayette, Jessamine and Madison County line.
- From Lexington (Fayette County) intersection of Tates Creek Rd and New Circle Rd, take KY-1974 South (Tates Creek Rd) for approximately 11 miles to the Kentucky River.
- From Nicholasville (Jessamine County) intersection of Main St and Richmond Ave, take KY-169 South for approximately 10 miles to the Kentucky River.
- From Richmond (Madison County) intersection of W Main St and Tates Creek Rd, take KY-169 North for approximately 13 miles to the Kentucky River.
About the Ferry:
The Valley View Ferry primarily services the residents of Fayette, Jessamine, and Madison counties. It is the oldest year-round ferry service in the United States and the last ferry remaining on the Kentucky River.
Founded seven years before Kentucky became a state, the Valley View Ferry’s charter was signed by Virginia Governor Patrick Henry in 1785.
The Valley View Ferry is operated jointly by the governments of Lexington-Fayette, Jessamine and Madison Counties. It transports vehicles and passengers across the Kentucky River, which separates SR-169, an extension of Tates Creek Road. The chief advantage of using the ferry boat is to substantially reduce commuting time between these areas. It is also a novel side-trip or weekend excursion, enjoyed by all, especially young children.
The Ferry, run by various operators over 210 years, was damaged by the weight of heavy snow in January 1996. It was then put in dry dock for rehabilitation, which eventually led to the construction of a new boat with only the old engine and paddlewheel remaining. The new boat, the “John Craig,” cost $40,000 and was dedicated June 7,1996, on the Fayette-Jessamine County side of the Kentucky River.
In December 2014, the newest boat, the “John Craig II”, was placed in operation. This boat was purchased with a $600,000 grant from Ferry Boat Discretionary Funds (a federal grant program administered by the Federal Highway Works Administration) and $100,000 in local matching funds. The Valley View Ferry Authority received $25,000 each from Fayette, Jessamine, and Madison Counties. The ferry authority also provided $25,000.
The ferry is managed by the Valley View Ferry Authority, composed of citizens and government officials from the three counties served.
(Information on the Ferry from lexingtonky.gov)