WELAKA, Florida — Sometimes it’s worth taking the long way home just to enjoy an interesting shortcut. True, in that rare instance when you need to make the drive from Salt Springs to Welaka, the Fort Gates Ferry will save you about forty miles and a pointless journey up through Palatka and back. But that’s merely practical. What’s fun and impractical is driving miles out of the way to float your car across the top of Lake George at the St. John’s River.
The Fort Gates Ferry opened in the 1830s and transported Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. At last visit it looks like it hasn’t been upgraded much since. In 2009 it won a contest for being the “World’s Worst Commute.” The Ocala National Forest says the ferry is a 1910 Sharpie Sailboat driving a barge from the 1930s. The ferry remains one of only four ferries operating in Florida, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Fort Gates Ferry Info:
- Operates 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily except Tuesdays. But expect to wait a while for service, even during normal operating hours. We waited nearly an hour, honking regularly, until the proprietor even acknowledged our presence.
- The ferry can hold two cars and the cost is $10 per car, each way. The trip is about a mile and takes 10 minutes.
- For info, contact the Gateway Fish Camp, 229 Fort Gates Ferry Road, Crescent City, FL 32112. Phone: (386) 467-2411.