The Canby Ferry is one of a handful of electrically powered ferries in the world. Drawing its power from electrical lines that hang above the Willamette River, the
uses a trolley wire to bring power down to the ferry to operate the motors. Essentially a trolleybus type of operation but for a ferry instead.
Figures on the new M.J. LEE:
Length Overall: 55'8"
Length at Waterline: 53'2"
Beam Overall: 36'
Cruising Speed: 6.4 mph
Passenger Capacity: 49
Vehicle Capacity: 6 autos or 25 tons
Propulsion: Two 75 HP Z-Drives
July 1914: Ferry purchased in Newberg by Canby Mayor W.H. Bair and by Harry B. Evans, representing the Canby Business Men's Club. It was propelled by a splashboard driven by the river current and held on course by a cable. The first ferryman was Clem Dollar who received $10 a month from the City of Canby to run the ferry.
May 1916: Authorized $250 for new, gas-driven ferry.
1917: Second ferry built by Frank E. Dodge, Canby builder.
1917 - 1918: Edward Kilgallen, who lost an arm in childhood, succeeded Dollar as ferryman and the annual wages were reduced to $7.50 per month. He was found dead in the boathouse at the ferry slip in 1932. He had figured his trips across the river at 1,261, carrying 1,942 passengers.
1919 - 20: W.B. Nolen was paid a similar sum as ferryman.
1933: Theodore Neep served as ferryman on the Dodge-built craft until 1942. He and his family lived in a house on the south landing furnished by the County.
January 1946: Ferry was swept from moorings and pieces went over Willamette Falls.
1946 - 1953: Inactive.
June 1952: Canby Chamber and Lions Club presented the Clackamas County Court with 8,000 signatures seeking restoration of ferry service.
September 1952: County Commissioners approved construction of a steel-hulled ferryboat by L.S. Baier of Milwaukie.
November 1952: Ferry was launched at Baier's plant and christened by Ora Lee Cattley, daughter of Canby's first mayor, Herman A. Lee, and grand-daughter of Philander and Anna Green Lee who settled in the Canby area in 1847. The ferry was named for Millard Jerome Lee, first child born (1872) in the 1870-platted town of Canby.
July 3, 1953: Ferry service was restored with William H. Criteser and Bill Bruck as ferrymen. Chester Weaver was named third operator.
1956 - 1986: Miller (Ace) Mays served as ferry operator.
1959 - 1979: Victor Hodel served as ferry operator.
1960 - 1978: Richard W. Hill served as ferry operator.
1986: Free service ended and one-way toll of $1 was established.
1989: Ferry was renovated and repainted. Coast Guard declares that vessel would not be recertified.
December 1995: Ferry failed Coast Guard safety inspection and County contracted with Art Anderson Associates to replace it.
February 1996: Ferry closed due to severe flooding on Willamette and remained closed during rebuilding of ferry docks.
June 20, 1997: Service was restored with new six-passenger ferry. Ferry crew included Joe Dietrich, John Lettenmaier, Carl Ellison, Jack Siefert, Mike Pyszka and Bret Proffitt.
July 4, 1997: Clackamas County Commissioners and the Canby community celebrated the reopening. The M.J. Lee II was christened by Doris Cattley Martin, descendent of M.J. Lee.
(from information provided by Myra Weston, Canby historian)