Lee’s Ferry (also Lees Ferry or Lee Ferry) , AZ

Lee's Ferry

Lee's Ferry

Lee’s Ferry (also Lees Ferry or Lee Ferry) is a site on the Colorado River in Coconino County, Arizona, United States, about 7.5 miles (12 km) southwest of the town of Page, Arizona and the Glen Canyon Dam, and about 9 mi (15 km) south of the Utah-Arizona border. It is the former location of a ferry established by John D. Lee, a Mormon settler. Today, the site is used primarily for fishing and launching rafts.

In 1871 Mormon settler John D. Lee was directed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to establish a ferry on the Colorado River. The location had earlier been scouted by the Mormon explorer Jacob Hamblin on his numerous missionary expeditions to the Hopi and the Navajo east of the Colorado River. Previously, the river had been forded at the Ute Crossing or The Crossing of the Fathers, which is now under Lake Powell. With financing supplied by the church, Lee built the ferry in 1871–1872 near the confluence of the Paria River with the Colorado. Due to its proximity to the confluence, the site was originally named Paria Crossing. It features a natural slope from the cliffs to the riverbank, allowing safe crossing over the Colorado River in otherwise impassable terrain. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Lee’s Ferry was the only crossing of the Colorado River by ferry between Moab, Utah and Needles, California; it was heavily used by travelers between Utah and Arizona.

Since Lee traveled frequently, the ferry was managed primarily by his wife, Emma Lee. Lee was eventually forced to leave the ferry site to evade law enforcement officers for his part in the 1857 Mountain Meadows massacre; he was executed by firing squad on March 23, 1877. In 1879 Emma Lee sold the ferry, for 100 milk cows, to the LDS church, which continued to operate it until about 1910. Coconino County, Arizona subsequently managed the ferry. The Lee’s Lonely Dell Ranch and the ferry are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, together with the wreckage of the riverboat Charles H. Spencer.

The ferry was closed in 1928 when the Navajo Bridge (now carrying U.S. highway 89-Alt) over Marble Canyon was built 7 km to the southwest.

A steel wire cable basket for Park Service use now crosses the Colorado River at the old ferry site.

Lee's Ferry

Lee's Ferry

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Published in: on January 15, 2009 at 2:59 PM  Comments Off on Lee’s Ferry (also Lees Ferry or Lee Ferry) , AZ  
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