Skip to main content
Indiana University

11. Lincoln Ferry Park

Materials:

(Videos above available via Vimeo. See Embedded Videos below.)

About:


Top left: view east along the Ohio River. Top center: view south to Kentucky. Top right: view west along the Ohio River.

The sign commemorating the Lincoln Ferry Park.


Lincoln Ferry Park, located along Indiana Highway 66 just west of Troy, Indiana and beside the point in the the landscape where the Anderson River (south-bound) empties into the Ohio River (west-bound).  At this site, the young Lincoln family was ferried to Indiana from Kentucky in the year 1816.  Poor surveying techniques and, thus, inadequate land ownership record-keeping drove Thomas Lincoln from Sinking Springs Farm to Knob Creek Farm.  Kentucky did not have a consistent and accurate style of surveying, which effected land ownership rights.  Thomas bought both Kentucky farms believing that he was the owner, but this was not the case.  At both locations, another gentleman owned the properties (or part of the properties) – discovered after Thomas had worked the land and established a homestead.

So, Thomas moved his young family to Indiana, where the new state planners dictated that accurate and proper surveying and record-keeping would be maintained, thus, enabling movement to the frontier by those interested pioneers from the east. No land ownership issues would be found in the nineteenth state, admitted to the Union in 1816.

Currently, the Park is a quiet, shaded setting with a picnic shelter available.  Views east and west along the Ohio River are available.  As well, the Anderson River, which is not that significant anymore, is still present.  The Ohio River has also slightly altered course, width, and depth. Barge traffic can be watched traveling the Ohio – similar to large flatboats in Lincoln’s day.  One site different today than in Lincoln’s day would be the stacks from the coal-fired power plants along the Ohio River.  One can imagine a time when families were crossing the Ohio River from Kentucky to Indiana, and from Indiana to Kentucky, to discover new adventures and to eek out a living from the harsh, forested landscape.

At this site, also, a young Abraham Lincoln would ferry goods and peoples to boats/steamers waiting in the middle of the Ohio River. This angered the cross-river ferry boat operators.  They went to court in an attempt to stop Abraham from operating his rowboat/ferry.  Abraham educated himself about the law and its meanings;  he defended himself in court.  The judge ruled in Abraham’s favor. This thirst for knowledge and fairness began Lincoln’s love of the law.

Embedded Videos:

Lincoln the Worker

Toponyms: Lincoln Ferry Park