In the 608: Hop aboard Wisconsin’s only free ferry

MERRIMAC, Wis. — The Merrimac Ferry, which crosses the Wisconsin River between Sauk and Columbia counties, is Wisconsin’s only free ferry.

It shuttles WIS 113 traffic between Okee, on the east bank, and Merrimac on the west.

Ferry service has been provided in this area for more than a century.

In 1844, four years before Wisconsin became a state, Chester Mattson, the second settler on the site of the village of Merrimac, obtained charters to provide ferry service at this location.

The ferry was operated long before the development of a regular roadway.

Mattson charged either 0.35 cents or $1 to ferry a team and wagon across the river, depending upon who you’re talking to.

The ferry generally operates from April to November and takes about seven minutes for a single crossing.​