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Arkansas Ferry, Amador County Ghost Town

References to Arkansas Ferry in the earliest accounts are fairly numerous. The place is firmly established upon maps available in the mid-1850s, including that of John Doble. The road leading to it is easily traceable on both the Calaveras and Amador side, though Doble's map does not show the culverts, masonry supports, and riprap on the lower side that appear in the approaches at the Morrow and Westmoreland bridges. This is fairly solid evidence that it antedated them and was, perhaps, the earliest visible crossing above the original Lancha Plana.

Its site is a place of considerable charm. A half-circle of cliffs on the south is matched by almost identical formations on the north, the whole forming a deep bowl in the bottom of which the Mokelumne forms a small lake with enough current at most seasons of the year to power a gravity ferry.

The road snaked a tortuous course down the gorge of the river to the south land­ing. On the north side it spiraled and looped past a ledge or bench of some acres in extent that apparently was the town site, to a point where it cleared the north rim of the canyon.

On the Amador side, an islet in quadrilateral outline of perhaps 50 by 100 yards, was the footing of an eight-room house, constructed of stratified serpentine laid in adobe, to which the white lime plaster adhered for many years. Not too striking in appearance when viewed horizontally, it was quite impressive in its open-to-the­sky gauntness when observed from a needle-like projection of the north rim. Who built it and why will probably never be known.

The islet and the building are gone, some small fragments of the east end excepted. One of our recurring floods sometime in the last 40 years has obliterated almost every trace. Just at random, if one tried to pick out the one that swept it away, it may have been the great catastrophe of the year 1955 that, among its other acts of destruction, wiped out Yuba City.


Information, photographs courtesy of the Amador County Archives, The Historical Marker Database, The Chronicling America Database, and Larry Cenotto, Amador County's Historian