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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, are pleased to introduce 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 has been 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, participants will learn more about outlaws and pirates during the tumultuous frontier days along this shared stretch of the Ohio River.

Schedule of Events

September 13, 2021 through November 6, 2021: The Kentucky Historical Society’s Museum-To-Go “Life Along the Ohio River” will be on display at the Crittenden County Public Library at 204 W. Carlisle Street, Marion, KY. This display is available for viewing Monday—Friday 9-5, Saturday 9-1.

September 11, 2021 10:00 am: Author, Eddie Price, presents “Ohio River Heritage” at Fohs Hall, 201 N. Walker Street, Marion, KY.

September 19, 2021 3:00 p.m.:  Local author, Todd Carr, presents “Frontier Ferries and River Pirates” at the cave in Cave-In-Rock State Park, IL.

September 29, 2021 2:00 p.m.: Attend a book discussion about the outlaw stories at Crittenden County Public Library. Book club sets of Cave-In-Rock Pirates and Outlaws by local author Todd Carr and The Outlaws of Cave-In-Rock by Otto Rothert are now available for checkout at CCPL. Satan’s Ferryman by W.D. Snively, Jr. and Louanna Furbee is available for in-library reading or can be purchased at the Crittenden County Museum. Authors will sell copies of books at each event.

October 1, 2021 6:30 p.m.: Movie Showing of Davy Crockett and the River Pirates at Riverside Park, (Dam 50) Crittenden County, KY.  A short program is scheduled before the movie and concessions will be sold with all proceeds benefitting the Crittenden County Museum.

October 15, 2021 6:30 p.m.: Movie Showing of Davy Crockett and the River Pirates at the lodge parking lot at Kaylor’s Restaurant at Cave-in-Rock State Park, IL. A short program is scheduled before the movie. Concessions will be available.

October 21, 2021 2:00 p.m.: Author, Eddie Price, Presents “A Tale of Two States” at Fohs Hall, 201 N. Walker Street, Marion, KY.

October 27, 2021 2:00 p.m.: Attend a book discussion about the outlaw stories at Crittenden County Public Library.

November 6, 2021 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.: Join us for the Ohio River Outlaw Trail Caravan Tour. Partnering agencies have created a driving map of the outlaw sites on both sides of the river. By special permission, we are able to visit select sites on private property that are usually inaccessible to the public. Registration for this day-long tour is now available by calling the Crittenden County Public Library at (270)965-3354. The tour begins at CCPL and ends at the Ohio River Welcome Center in Equality, IL. Bring a sack lunch for a picnic at Cave-In-Rock State Park.

“Our region benefits greatly from investing in local history and creating new tourism opportunities,” said Crittenden County Public Library director Brandie Ledford. “In the past year it has been difficult to plan programs because of the pandemic but Ferry Tales programming is designed with social distancing in mind. Book checkouts further pursue independent learning and attending events in larger spaces or outside allows attendees can better socially distance.”

The goal of this local history project is 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. We hope that a community dialogue will result from these programs and that families with ties to these stories will contribute their family connections to the Crittenden County Public Library archives for posterity. To share pioneer stories with CCPL, contact Brandie Ledford at the Crittenden County Public Library at (270)965-3354 for information about a new initiative called OurStoryBridge: Connecting the Past and the Present.

The Ferry Tales program and the Ohio River Outlaw Trail are 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 is 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. Watch for the map coming in October 2021 available at the Marion, KY Welcome Center and the Ohio River Visitor’s Center in Equality, IL. This is a great way to learn more about the unique historical happenings of this area and you can even 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.

Check out the Ferry Tales Brochure for more information.