Saugatuck Chain Ferry
The only remaining chain driven ferry in the country, it has been in use since 1838. Three pullies keep it in line as it is being pulled across the Kalamazoo River. The operator turns a crank on the inside and this pulls the ferry along the chain. You can hop the ferry for a ride across the river and then take the walking trail to Oval Beach. Open Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The City of Saugatuck has provided the following information for the 2018 season:
Hours are subject to captain availability. The chain ferry operates in fair weather only – it does not operate in Strong winds, heavy current, electrical storms or heavy rain. FARE: $1.00 PER PERSON EACH WAY – CASH ONLY Children 2 and under, pets and bicycles are FREE. Pets must be on a leash. The chain ferry DIANE is a U.S. Coast Guard documented vessel. It cannot carry more than 24 passengers at one time, and cannot carry more than 10 children 90 lbs. and under at one time.
Friday, May 25th: NOON to 9 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday, May 26&27: 9 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.
MEMORIAL DAY: Monday, May 28th: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday, June 1st and 8th: NOON to 8:45 p.m.
Saturday, June 2nd and 9th: 9 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Sunday, June 3rd and 10th: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Monday, June 11th through Sunday, August 19th: 9 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.*
August 20th thru September 2nd 9:00 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.
Labor Day, Monday, September 3rd: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
*In August chain ferry closes ½ hour prior to sunset.
** Majority of our captains/crew are college students and return to college late August. Hours of operation will depend on their availability.
- CAPACITY: 24 + Captain and Crew
- Can only take 10 children 90 lbs. and under at one time.
- Ferry runs on demand – stand on ferry landing so crew knows you wish to cross.
- How long does ferry stay on one side of the river? Approximately 10 minutes after they get there.
- Can you take bikes? Yes
- Can you take strollers? Yes
- Can you take mopeds? No – Sorry, anything that is motorized is not accommodated on the chain ferry. (Reasons – not sure if you want to include – weight and possibly injury that can be caused if someone brushes up against hot exhaust pipe.)
- Smoking? No
- How late does the ferry run? Closes 1/2 hour prior to sunset. Leave east side to go to west side 10 minutes before posted closing time. Leaves west side to east side 5 minutes prior to posted closing time. Ferry is not licensed to run after dark.
- Captains carry a U.S.C.G. license made specifically for the chain ferry.
- Crew is first aid and CPR trained.
- Ferry may run limited schedule is wind/current is strong, but not strong enough to shut down.
- Ferry shuts down at the first sight of lightening and remains closed until 30 minutes after the last lightening strike.
- Crew will shut down ferry operation for 20 minutes for a lunch break mid-shift. Times will be posted when they will be closed.
- Chain is continuous and 400’ long. Goes thru a series of gears and that is what pulls it from one side of the river to the other.