Ohio River Outlaw Trail Map

Take a trip along the Ohio River Outlaw Trail! Trail maps are available at the Crittenden County Public Library, the Marion Welcome Center, and across the river at the Hardin County Historical Society in Elizabethtown, Cave-In-Rock Historical Society, and the Ohio River Welcome Center in Equality, IL.

Download a copy of the trail map here: Back of Map

The Ohio River Outlaw Trail is a great way to learn more about the unique historical happenings of this area. Use your cellular phone to hear audio stories as you visit points of interest. Start your Ferry Tales tour by calling the Crittenden County Public Library’s Dial-A-Story phone line at (270)918-9900. At each tour route stop, simply enter the stop number and listen to learn more about that place. Press # to return to the main menu. There is no charge for using this audio tour. Depending on your cellular plan, minute and data charges may apply. The Ferry Tales committee asks that drivers respect private property and do not visit non-public sites without permission.

Ferry Tales Local History Project

In 2021, the Crittenden County Public Library along with partner agencies including the Crittenden County Historical Society, Hardin County Historical Society, and Tourism Boards in both Hardin County, IL and Crittenden County, KY, presented a local history project called Ferry Tales: Outlaw Stories on the Ohio.

Most people who grew up in this area know about the outlaw stories along the river including the Cave-In-Rock pirates, the infamous Ford’s Ferry gang, counterfeiters, and the reverse underground railroad connected with the Crenshaw House in southeastern Illinois. The Ferry Tales project was designed for those who know the stories well and those with no knowledge of the history of the area. Through a series of special programs, book discussions, and museum exhibits taking place from September through November of 2021, participants learned about the notorious outlaws who roamed this shared stretch of the Ohio River during southern Illinois and west Kentucky’s tumultuous frontier days.

The goal of this local history project was to create a sense of place for residents in the lower Ohio Valley, bringing to light the dark cautionary tales of pioneer life and debunking myths surrounding the tales. The planning committee’s hope was that community dialogue would result from the programs and that families with ties to these stories would contribute their family connections to the Crittenden County Public Library archives for posterity. Residents can still share pioneer stories with CCPL by contacting the Crittenden County Public Library at (270)965-3354. CCPL participates in OurStoryBridge: Connecting the Past and the Present as well as Story Corp.

The Ferry Tales program and the Ohio River Outlaw Trail were made possible by local and State support on both sides of the river. Grants from the Kentucky Historical Society and the Illinois Humanities Council provided funding for program speakers, movie showings, and book checkout kits. Additional funding was provided by the Hardin County, Illinois Tourism Board and the Marion, KY Tourism Board to develop and print the Ohio River Outlaw Trail driving map of historic points of interest.

Check out the Ferry Tales Brochure for a description of the events held in 2021. Future tours are ongoing and will be planned as interest arises.