Jamestown Historical Society

Governor Carr Ferry

Governor Carr pennant from the maiden voyage, February 1927
Governor Carr pennant from the maiden voyage, February 1927

Above the Ferry Room door in the Jamestown Museum is the pennant flown on the Governor Carr on the ferryboat’s maiden voyage in February 1927.

The Governor Carr carried passengers and vehicles across the East Passage between Jamestown and Newport from 1927 through 1958. A sturdy steel-hulled steamboat built especially for the Jamestown & Newport Ferry Company, the ferryboat was riveted together and strong enough to survive hurricane-force winds. However, the Jamestown dock was not as sturdy. Buffeted by the high winds and enormous storm surge of the Hurricane of ’38, the pilings gave, setting the ferryboat free. Despite the attempts of the crew to control the boat and get it to Newport, it ran aground on the beach a half mile north of East Ferry.

The ferryboat was essentially unharmed. The Rhode Island chapter of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) jumped into action to figure out how to get the Governor Carr off the beach. Supports were inserted to bring the boat to an upright position. A temporary track was erected to slide it back into the water. 

A WPA blueprint showing the steps taken is on display in the museum.

Governor Carr had a good run for 31 years and provided much need transport of goods, cars and people across the bay. The ship was scrapped in the early sixties.

This summer’s exhibit at the Jamestown Historical Society Museum centers on ferries owned and operated by the Jamestown and Newport Ferry Company. The display, “Celebrating Jamestown Ferries: 150th Anniversary of Jamestown First Steam Ferry,” is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through October 9, 2023.

Click on Governor Carr to see more from our Online Catalog

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