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Ferry Tales: Outlaw Stories on the Ohio


  • Author Todd Carr, a native of Cave-in-Rock, and the author of several books about southeastern Illinois history. He is taking part in several Ferry Tales events.

    Author Todd Carr, a native of Cave-in-Rock, and the author of several books about southeastern Illinois history. He is taking part in several Ferry Tales events.
    Harrisburg Register file photo

 
Harrisburg Register staff report
updated: 9/24/2021 2:12 PM

Through a series of special programs, book discussions and museum exhibits now through November, we can all learn in detail about a fascinating time in our region's history -- when outlaws and pirates plied the Illinois-Kentucky stretch of the Ohio River during the tumultuous frontier days.

A local history project, "Ferry Tales: Outlaw Stories on the Ohio," is a joint venture between the Crittenden County (Kentucky) Public Library, the Crittenden County Historical Society, the Hardin County Historical Society and tourism boards in both Hardin and Crittenden counties.

People who grew up in this area have heard tales -- about the Cave-In-Rock pirates, the infamous Ford's Ferry gang, counterfeiters, and the "reverse underground railroad" connected with the Crenshaw House (aka The Slave House) in southeastern Illinois.

The Ferry Tales project promises to be eye-opening, for people who know nothing of this period as well as those who know the stories well. Its goal is to create a sense of place for residents in the lower Ohio Valley, bringing to light the dark cautionary tales of pioneer life and debunking myths.

Organizers hope the programs start people talking, and moreover that the families with ties to these stories will be willing to share them. The Crittenden County (Ky.) Public Library is archiving all such stories.

To share pioneer stories with CCPL, contact Brandie Ledford at the Crittenden County Public Library at (270) 965-3354.

"Our region benefits greatly from investing in local history and creating new tourism opportunities," Ledford said. "The Ferry Tales programming is designed with social distancing in mind."

"Book checkouts further pursue independent learning and attending events in larger spaces or outside allows attendees can better socially distance."

Upcoming events

• 'Life Along the Ohio River:' Ongoing through Nov. 6 at the Crittenden County Public Library, 204 W. Carlisle St., Marion, Kentucky. The Kentucky Historical Society's Museum-To-Go "Life Along the Ohio River" display is available for viewing from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays.

• Book discussion: 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29 at Crittenden County Public Library, 204 W. Carlisle St., Marion, Kentucky. Book club sets of "Cave-In-Rock Pirates and Outlaws" by local author Todd Carr and "The Outlaws of Cave-In-Rock" by Otto Rothert are available for checkout. "Satan's Ferryman" by W.D. Snively Jr. and Louanna Furbee is available for in-library reading or can be bought at the Crittenden County Museum. Authors will sell books at each event (program is repeated on Oct. 27).

• 'Davy Crockett and the River Pirates:' Film showing at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at Riverside Park, (Dam 50) in Crittenden County, KY. A short program will be held before the movie. Concession sales will benefit the Crittenden County Museum.

• 'Davy Crockett and the River Pirates:' Film showing at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at the lodge parking lot at Kaylor's Restaurant at Cave-in-Rock State Park, Illinois. A short program will be held before the movie. Concession sales.

• 'A Tale of Two States:' 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21 at Fohs Hall, 201 N. Walker St., Marion, KY. Author Eddie Price presents "A Tale of Two States."

• Book discussion: 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 27 at Crittenden County Public Library, 204 W. Carlisle St., Marion, KY. Book club sets of "Cave-In-Rock Pirates and Outlaws" by local author Todd Carr and "The Outlaws of Cave-In-Rock" by Otto Rothert are available for checkout. "Satan's Ferryman" by W.D. Snively Jr. and Louanna Furbee is available for in-library reading or can be bought at the Crittenden County Museum. Authors will sell their books.

• Ohio River Outlaw Trail Caravan Tour: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 6. Follow a driving map of the outlaw sites on both sides of the river, which includes, by special permission, select sites on private property that are usually inaccessible to the public. Register with the Crittenden County Public Library at (270) 965-3354. The tour begins at the library and ends at the Ohio River Welcome Center in Equality. Bring a sack lunch for a picnic at Cave-In-Rock State Park. The Ohio River Outlaw Trail driving map of historic points of interest will be ready in October, and available at the Marion, KY Welcome Center and the Ohio River Visitor's Center in Equality, IL.

For more information about Ferry Tales, pick up a brochure at the Welcome Center, the Crittenden County Library, the Crittenden County Museum or visit https://crittendenlibrary.org/ferrytales or call the library at (270) 965-3354.