Ed Timmerman completes work on a cable ferry across the Columbia near present-day Richland in September 1894.

  • By Jim Kershner
  • Posted 1/08/2008
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8453

In September 1894, August E. "Ed" Timmerman, a rancher, completes a cable ferry at the future Columbia point, near Richland. Realizing the place would be an ideal place to build a cable ferry, he buys land, builds two towers on either side of the river, and launches the ferry. It operates until 1931 when automobile bridges render it obsolete.

Building the Ferry

Timmerman had been raising cattle in Grant's Meadows, which is what Columbia Point was called at the time, when he realized it was an ideal spot for a cable ferry. He built two towers, an 80-foot behemoth at Grant's Meadows and a 40-footer on the east side of the Columbia, and draped 3,000 feet of three-quarter-inch cable between the two. When work was finally completed, Timmerman and his friends celebrated with "a keg of beer and lots of old-time eats" (Kubik).

Timmerman charged a quarter for a person on horseback, a dollar for a wagon or buggy or, later, an auto or truck. Horses and cattle cost a dime each and a sheep cost a penny.

The Timmerman family operated the ferry until 1924 and then sold it. The ferry shut down for good in 1931 due to competition from the Pasco-Kennewick auto bridge.

Sources: Barbara J. Kubik, Richland: Celebrating Its Heritage (Richland: City of Richland, 1994) 10-11.

Related Topics:   Bridges | Roads & Rails

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