Access to Drummond Island has always been by boat, be it an ancient canoe or the modern ferry, or any of a host of boat possibilities utilized over the years. At times it seems that the very pulse of the island is dictated by the Ferry Schedule and the flow of vehicles to and from the ferry boat docks. These boats and their crews have provided countless safe passages, to residents and visitors alike, across the DeTour Passage of the St. Mary’s River. Your adventure begins with a one mile ferry ride across the St. Mary's River. The ferry, capable of holding 36 cars, crosses the river hourly bringing cars, passengers, trucks, and semi trucks across to the Island. There are no advance ticket sales. Vehicles line up in DeTour waiting to board the ferry. The round trip ferry fare is collected by the deck hand once you are safely on board. Over 100,000 round-trip vehicle tickets and nearly 200,000 round-trip passenger tickets are purchased each year. The efforts and safety records of the boats and crews are a testament to the quality of service they provide.
While crossing the St. Mary’s River, remember that you are crossing one of the busiest waterways in the world. The St. Mary’s River is an international waterway with over 4,500 cargo carriers passing Drummond Island each year!
Yes, the ferry runs all year round. Temporary closures due to high winds and heavy ice occasionally occur. Here's a nice video that highlights a voyage in sub-zero temperatures.
Video courtesy of Dan Vaught
Know before you go! "LIKE" the Drummond Island Ferry Facebook page to get up-to-date information about service inturruptions. If the ferry shuts down for any reason, it will be posted here first.
For updates or delays by telephone call 906.632.1516 and press option 2
History of the Drummond Island Ferry In a richly detailed history of the Drummond Island Ferries, Ferry Fare, (available at the Drummond Island Historical Museum), Paul Cross has documented these vessels. The information which follows is drawn from his work. CLYDE - 36’ fantail launch owned by Daniel Murray Seaman and lost in a collision with a freighter in 1908. “Scheduled” mail, passenger and freight service from Drummond to points in the Eastern Upper Peninsula.
NAIDA – 40’ motor launch/light duty tug owned by D M. Seaman, (1908-1922), then by Floyd Seaman, (1922 – 1924), initially providing the same service as the Clyde. From 1915, was used to carry vehicles on the Drummond settlement – DeTour run. Began using the township dock on the channel after 1922 and retires in 1924.
DRUMMOND – 50’, similar to but heavier that the Naida. Built on Drummond Island by Philo Leonard, was specifically designed for carrying 2 to 3 automobiles, owned by J. S. Church and Earle Bailey. Lost to foreclosure in 1924, and later returned to channel service by Joe Krol to replace the Phillip after fire.
PHILLIP – 64’ wooden schooner converted to coal fired steam power carrying 4 to 5 automobiles. Owned by F, Seaman, l924-1930, then sold to J Krol. Burned in winter of 1930-1931.
WALLAN – 60’ wooden hulled, diesel powered, ice-breaking car ferry, built by Philo Leonard on Drummond of Drummond Island timber, specifically for the Drummond – DeTour run. Commissioned by Walter Pardridge and Landon Townsend, sold in 1943 to the Chippewa County Road Commission and renamed Sam C. Taylor. Operated as part of the county road system until 1947.
DRUMMOND ISLANDER – 59’ all steel, ice-breaking auto ferry commissioned by the county in 1947. Original capacity of 7 cars, powered by 120 horsepower, 12 cylinder Caterpillar marine engine. Lengthened to 80’, accommodating 10 cars, and repowered by a supercharged 6 cylinder Cummins in 1976. Deck space enlarged in 1991 to accommodate 12 cars. Ferry service was taken over by the Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority under a Federal program in the mid 70’s.
DRUMMOND ISLANDER II – 59’, twin engined, 12 car capacity, commissioned in 1961. Steel hulled but with out ice-breaking capacity. Removed from Drummond Island service in 1989. Subsequently re-assigned to Neebish Island service.
DRUMMOND ISLANDER III – 108’ with 37’ beam, twin engine with a 25 car capacity and ice-breaking capability. Delivered in November 1989 and is still in service.
DRUMMOND ISLANDER IV - 148’ with a 43’ beam, twin 960 horsepower Caterpillar diesels, 32 car capacity. Hull #108, built by Basic Marine, Inc. of Escanaba, MI to a design by Timothy Graul Marine Design of Sturgeon Bay, WI. Delivered in November 2000.
Normally, a visitor’s first experience of Drummond Island is from the deck of a ferry boat. These ferries make for a rich and varied history of service to the island.
New to the Island? Here are a few tips on Ferry Etiquette: 1. Plan ahead - It helps: First, check the schedule for the boat so you can plan your travel times. Our Drummond Island Ferry runs on the 10s and 40s. You can find the current schedule online above.
2. Be nice – It’s the right thing to do: There IS a line leader. They are the ones who got to the ferry dock first, line-up nicely behind them. Do not take cuts.
3. Waiting - It happens: In high season, ferry traffic will exceed capacity, particularly on Friday afternoons and Sunday mornings/early afternoons. At these times the ferry may or may not “run wild” – meaning make extra trips between regularly scheduled runs to pick-up cars that were inline but simply couldn’t fit onboard. Be prepared to wait. Bring a book, a newspaper or a good friend to chat with!
4. Don’t rush – you won’t get there any faster. When getting on or off the ferry watch and wait to be directed by a Crew member. Rushing rarely accomplishes anything and may cause accidents.
5. Hang up – stop texting. When loading or unloading from the ferry please turn your cell phone off and pay attention. The process goes smoothly when we all work together.
6. Have your money or ticket ready. The EUPTA only accepts cash or check. They are NOT set-up to accept Credit or Debit Cards of any kind. Know what the fares are in advance by reading the board on the DeTour side or online above.
7. Don’t argue with the Ferry Crew, ever. They are here to help us, they know what they are doing and do it well. Take time to smile and wave as you unload!
8. Sit back and enjoy the view! You’re on “Island Time”! furnished and written by Candis Collick
Come visit us soon. Drummond Island Tourism Association P. O. Box 200 34974 S. Townline Road Drummond Island, MI 49726