2008-10-23 / About Town

Historic ferry sign on display at rec center

opened on June 28, 1969, the way to get to Newport from Jamestown was by ferryboat. From as early as 1675, sail ferries serviced the route and in 1873 steam ferries of the Jamestown & Newport Ferry Company began operation from East Ferry. Very little tangible evidence remains to remind today's visitor why the area at Narragansett and Conanicus Avenues is called East Ferry.

The Jamestown Historical Society, in cooperation with the Town of Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department, is changing that. A ferry schedule sign, given to the society by the Rhode Island Department of Public Works in 1969 when ferry service was discontinued, is now on display at the Recreation Center in the outer lobby. The five foot by three foot wooden sign, which originally stood at East Ferry, advertises the departure and arrival times and an arrow points in the direction of the ferry.

"We are very pleased to be able to have the sign on view," said Sue Maden, the chairwoman of the society's Collections Committee. "Joe Logan, who is a member of our committee, did a beautiful job creating the frame and protective cover. We just hope people don't think the schedule is still in force and start looking for the ferry."

Also on display in the lobby of the Recreation Center are three signboards from ferryboats: two are from the Conanicut, which was in service from 1886 to 1927, and the third is from the Hammonton, which operated from 1930 to 1958.

All the signs are on loan from the Jamestown Historical Society.

The Jamestown Historical Society is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to preserving, collecting and sharing our island's history. Founded in 1912, the Society maintains and operates the Jamestown Museum and three 18th century historic sites: the Windmill, the Quaker Meetinghouse and the Conanicut Battery in Conanicut Battery Historic Park. All sites are open to the public.

The Jamestown Historical Society is a valuable resource for students, educators, historians and anyone interested in learning more about the area's rich heritage. The catalog of ferry items and other material in the society's collections can be accessed at www. jamestownhistoricalsociety.org. Consider becoming a member today.

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