Los Ebanos Ferry

By Kelly Francis-Love, the archivist at MOSTHistory

There are 28 places to cross the border between Texas and Mexico. Most people choose one of the international bridges, but next time, why not choose a crossing with a little more history?

The Los Ebanos ferry is the only hand-pulled ferry on any boundary of the United States. The ferry itself has been in operation since 1950 but was established on an ancient ford site.  The first recorded use was in the 1740s by Spanish explorers led by José de Escandón. Over the years the ford was also used by troops during the Mexican War, Texas Rangers and smugglers during the Prohibition era. 

Today the ferry is managed by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.  It can hold three cars as well as a few passengers. It takes five men on deck to pull the cable stretching 70 yards across the Rio Grande. The ferry is named for the ebony trees in the area and runs from Los Ebanos, Texas to Diaz Ordaz, Mexico. There are occasional closures due to safety concerns from high water, and a passport is required for travel on the ferry.