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The Fulton Ferry

The ferry at Fulton crossed the Red River where the Little River entered into the stream (Photo is from the collection of Bruce McNabb, found in the Encyclopedia of Arkansas).

This is an undated photograph, but it may be the final one of the ferry at Fulton, Hempstead County, Arkansas which crossed the Red River just below the Great Bend. By April of 1930, the state-run toll bridge opened for U.S. 67, aka the Bankhead Highway, making the ferry obsolete. A ferry had been operating at this site since 1836.

Running a ferry was always dangerous work. Not just because of the currents and undertows from the river, but because of the unknown elements of ferrying strangers who might not always have the best intentions. I've casually researched ferry crossings and have come across several bad incidents, including the murder of operators.

Violence visited the toll bridge operator at Fulton, too. By 1934, "three kidnaping-holdups and a murder" occurred at the toll bridge. The murdered person was the toll bridge keeper, Glenn Williams. Towards the beginning of World War II, enough tolls had been paid for "the million-dollar bridge" that it became a free route for Bankhead Highway travelers crossing the Red River. Today, the old 1930 bridge has been replaced by a more modern structure.

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