81 votes

Saugatuck Chain Ferry

528 Water Street, Saugatuck, Michigan 49453 USA

  • Independent
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“the only remaining chain driven ferry in the US”

The ferry in the resort town of Saugatuck, Michigan is claimed to be the only remaining chain driven ferry in the US. It has been in use since 1838. Three pullies keep it in line as it is being pulled across the Kalamazoo River. This is an unusual operation to watch. When it is ready to cross the Kalamazoo River, the operator takes a can of compressed air and blows a very loud whistle (airhorn) alerting all boat traffic to stop. It is hand propelled! The operator turns a crank on the inside and this pulls the ferry along the chain. The ferry goes from the immediate downtown, and after a short distance of about 250' takes you to Oval beach. The ferry beats making the long drive around the lake and then having to look for a spot at the crowded parking lot. Open Memorial Day to Labor Day (give or take) Mon-Fri 11am – 8 pm and Sat – Sun, holidays 9am – 9pm.

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  • 14 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
August 27, 2015
Rated 5.0

Appears to be operated exclusively college/high school kids on summer vacation. They do a great job of anticipating boat traffic and waiting for people who are hustling to catch the ferry. There is only one boat and it waits on either side for 5-10 min before heading across. The operators know a good deal of history about the ferry and town. Tip your captain!

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Saugatuck Chain Ferry

528 Water Street
Saugatuck, Michigan
49453 USA

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  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
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