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Skipperliner books ferry contract

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skipperlineSkipperliner, La Crosse, Wis., has reopened under new ownership and with a $1.7 million contract to provide Wisconsin’s oldest operating ferry service, the Cassville ferry service, with a new tug and barge to make its Mississippi River crossing.

Skipperliner beat out two competitors to win the contract, which will see it construct a new 78 ft barge and a 45 foot tugboat to push it. The barge will be able to carry about 12 typical vessels.

Delivery is scheduled for July next year.

While Skipperliner has built numerous commercial and industrial vessels, this is its first ferry to transport vehicles.

The new Cassville ferry will replace the existing Charlie D, which carries up to nine cars. Charlie D has been crossing the Mississippi River at Cassville since 1966. Ferry service here dates as far back as 1833.



Cassville’s new ferry was designed by Farrell and Norton Naval Architects. The funds for the project came from $1.8 million in federal stimulus dollars. Wisconsin was among 19 states that received some of the $60 million designated specifically for ferry replacement and refurbishment through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The Cassville ferry provides seasonal service between Guttenberg, Iowa, and Cassville, Wisconsin. The nearest bridge crossing to the north is Prairie du Chien, and the nearest bridge crossing to the south is Dubuque, Iowa–a distance of approximately 70 miles.

The ferry operates from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, making an average of 45 trips per day. It also runs Friday through Sunday in spring and fall.

The new, larger ferry is expected to boost ridership, increasing tourism activity to nearby Stonefield Village as well as Nelson Dewey and Wyalusing state parks.

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