top of page

Just floating an idea... literally

An aero-trolley at Turner Falls, Oklahoma. This may have been the general idea of the proposed ferry over the Red River.

In 1912, the members of the Commercial Club of Gainesville (Cooke County, Texas) had an idea.

Commercial Clubs were the forerunners of Chambers of Commerce. Each sizeable city tended to have two: one for white-owned business and one of black-owned businesses. The voluntary members contributed money to boost their cities and thus, their businesses. Most improvements for roads came from Commercial Club organizers; they were also the ones to push bonds that enticed railroad building. Commercial Clubs also aided residents when natural disasters struck.

Gainesville's Commercial Club was considered by several municipalities in North Texas the best in the state. And, in 1912, the club's members had been promoting the "good roads" that led into Gainesville with their own automobiles. But there was a problem: in 1912, there was no road that connected Love County, Oklahoma to Cooke County, Texas. The toll bridge hadn't been built yet, and while four ferries operated along the deep bend, they were not considered the most modern of transports by progressive promoters.

So, the Commercial Club wanted to erect a suspended ferry car, "sixteen feet long, about three feet wide an a foot deep." This ferry will hover over the Red River with cables connected by concrete pillars on each side. The car could then, "by the manipulation of a lever... carry at the same times a heavily loaded vehicle and team."

Sounds like a suicide mission! According to this article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Captain Hockenhull at "his home on East California Street" built a model of this tram.

Last week, Butch Bridges of "This 'n That," a wonderful newsletter that focuses on the history of southern Oklahoma (specifically Ardmore and Carter County), posted a photograph of a suspended tram that ferried brave souls over Honey Creek above Turner Falls in Murray County, Oklahoma. While this isn't the large tram envisioned by Gainesville's Commercial Club, the photo can help to illustrate this fantastical idea.

By 1919, the Gainesville Red River Bridge Company got the go-ahead from Congress to build a toll bridge, but MAN it would have been so sweet to ride a suspended cable car instead.

Fort Worth Star Telegram, June 9 1912 Headline

Neat idea or a suicide mission?

I wish I knew what happened to the model. I bet it's in someone's attic in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas.

61 views0 comments


bottom of page