Aurora is a historic river town that is situated 35 miles west of Cincinnati, Ohio, located in the Southeast corner of Indiana. Aurora was settled in the early 1800's and incorporated in 1845 and has strong historic connections to the Ohio River. Aurora is full of unique and historic buildings that preserve its older rivercity characteristics.

The Aurora Ferry

Aurora was incorporated in 1819, three years after Indiana became a state. Crossing the Ohio River and local creeks was a significant challenge for the early settlers of the area and the founders of Aurora. The river, one of the major appealing features for the locale was, of course, also a hurdle. The river made trade possible, but traversing such a stream was a formidable problem.

In 1819 a franchise for the Aurora Ferry was given in Boone County, Kentucky to one Phillip Craig. The rates were 12 cents for every horse and for every person, 75 cents for every coach, wagon, and driver, 12 cents for every hogshead (barrel) of tobacco, 12 cents for every head of meat cattle, and 2 and 1/2 cents for every sheep, goat, hog, or lamb.

Early ferries were horse powered, and the last-such in Aurora was powered by two blind horses on a treadmill which turned two side (paddle) wheels. After the last horse-powered ferry was destroyed in the 1917-18 ice gorge, the Etta Belle became the first engine powered ferry. The Etta Belle eventually gave way to the C.J., owned and operated by Charlie Farrar, and later his widow, Jessie Farrar. The C.J. was named to honor the Farrar daughters, Carol and Janie. Farrars operated the ferry from 1943 until 1978 when the 1-275 bridge at Lawrenceburg rendered the ferry a losing enterprise.

The loss of the ferry was one of the stinging 20th century blows to the city of Aurora. Large chain stores and box stores have also made their dent on our charming river town. These modern "improvements" have presented us with both memories from the past and challenges of how to continue to thrive in the present. In the meantime, we enjoy the fond memories of such institutions and local icons as the Aurora Ferry.
- Historical information and images courtesy of Aurora Public Library District.

Donated to the City of Aurora by Dan Hilton.