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Introduction

Sevier County is known to have had at least four crossings (landings) on the French Broad River. A ferry was a boat operated by a ferryman at the crossing. The boat carried people, animals, vehicles and other property across the river.

The ferry landings also served as loading docks for flatboats and barges carrying farm produce to Knoxville and later for the steamboats bringing mail and a variety of supplies from Knoxville to the local stores and returning with produce from farmers who lived along the way.[1]

The ferries were operated privately but under the authorization and supervision of the County Court. The court specified the name of the ferry, sometimes the name of the operator, and fixed the rates to be charged.

Sevier County Court Minutes with ferry information from 1796 to 1856 were lost in the courthouse fire of March 26, 1856.

Although the Tennessee General Assembly passed House Bill No. 805 on April 24, 1899 authorizing Sevier County to establish and maintain free ferries and $125.00 was paid to two ferry owners for boats in 1905[2], documentation has not been found to prove free ferry transportation.

Unless the river could be crossed at the site of a ford where the water was shallow, a ferry was the only means of transportation across the river from 1788 believed to be the first year of operation of the Evans Ferry, until a temporary steel bridge was constructed by TVA at the Douglas Dam site in 1942. Douglas Dam was closed on February 19, 1943, and the temporary steel bridge was demolished soon afterward.[3]

The 873 foot long five span steel truss bridge originally known as the Swan bridge near Dandridge was purchased by Sevier County from TVA at a cost of $10,000 in July 1942.[4]  The bridge was relocated by TVA near the site of the Kyker Ferry and was opened to the public the second week in February, 1944. At this time the last two ferries, the Kyker and the Hodge, were discontinued.[5]

The four ferry landings are shown on the map in the center fold (of the original article) as Roman numerals I, II, III, IV. Map is available in the original article, available from SMHS. See http:// www.smokykin.com/smhs/

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