Los Ebanos Ferry

Mar 2009

Near the small town of Los Ebanos, Texas, there is a place to cross the Rio Grande River that has been used for many years and is still being used today.  In the late 19th century, the river was only a few feet deep most of the year and could be easily forded.  Texas Rangers chased cattle rustlers back into Mexico here.  During Prohibition, smugglers often brought liquor across.  About 1950, the current ferry was built. 




Here is the ferry crossing from Mexico to the US.  It is propelled by pulling on the white rope you can see in the picture.  Don't worry though; the 50 cents fare you pay means you don't have to pull the boat across.






The four guys on the right of the picture pull on the rope while the paying passengers rest in their car or on the wooden bench near the rail.  The man standing next to the white car is the conductor and is collecting fare.




The ferry is now crossing to the Mexican side with yours truly aboard and safely behind the camera.  The crossing takes about 3-4 minutes.  Mexican Immigration and Customs is further up the road and not visible in this picture.   There is a small town a few miles up the road.  There was a taxi waiting at the top of the hill to take us into town but we didn't go.




We just missed this ferry returning to the US.  But not to worry, there will be another along in about 15 minutes.  A big perk for users of this system is that, at any time, you can easily see where your ride is and quickly estimate your boarding time.  No airline with all their fancy electronics can match this.



However, if you are bringing a car with you, the problem gets a little harder.  This is the traffic lined up on the Mexican side waiting for the ferry.  There were about twelve cars in this line.  That's about an hour wait for the car at the end of the line.  There is one more factor which must be considered.  The ferry quits at 3:30 PM regardless of how many cars or people are waiting.




When entering the US, you must go through Immigration and Customs.  It was considerably easier than at other crossings.  There were three agents at this crossing but, as you can see, they were not exactly busy.  I have dealt with Immigration agents that were polite and helpful.  I have also experienced ones that were mean and even sarcastic.  At this crossing, however, there was an agent so different as to create a whole new species.  He actually made a joke and even laughed at it.  Granted it was a rather poor joke but, coming from a US Immigration agent, it was a miracle.  This experience alone made the trip worth while.




This is a view of the Rio Grande River downstream from the ferry.  The river is not very wide nor is there a strong current.  There is no sign of civilization; no buildings, no roads, no people.  There is nothing to hinder anyone who wants to cross this river nor any witness to that crossing.  This scene is repeated hundreds of times along the Rio Grande.  After seeing this, it is easy to understand how hundreds or even thousands of illegal immigrants cross into Texas every day.