The Buena Vista Ferry is a vehicle and pedestrian river ferry located in the community of Buena Vista, Oregon, on the Willamette River. It is located about 12 linear miles south of the state capital of Salem. The Buena Vista Ferry has been in operation for 150 years, since the area's founding in 1847. The ferry is operated by Marion County, and currently runs throughout the year, 12 hours a day, except in times of bad river conditions.
During the original settlement of Oregon by Europeans, there were many early ferries created, and sometimes an early settler could rise to prominence through the ownership of a couple of hammered together logs and the employment of a couple of strong men with poles. Many of these early river communities, dating back to the 1840s and 1850s, were quickly supplanted by the coming of the railroad. Much later, as highways and freeways were developed, the number of locations along the Willamette River dwindled, with currently only three ferries across the river still operating.
The exact economics and logistics of the Buena Vista Ferry are somewhat hard to guess at. Currently, bridges across the Willamette exist about five miles to the north, in Independence and about eight miles to the south, in Albany. Buena Vista itself is a collection of a few dozen houses and a single cafe, and the areas around it are sparsely populated farmland. Presumably, when people in that area do need to travel, the utilitarian direction is towards the hubs of Salem or Albany. It seems that for the small amount of people who need to go from one side of the river to the other, it might be more economically efficient to just route around.
Still, if you ever find yourself driving across the bucolic, rolling mint, hop and corn fields of the middle Willamette Valley, the exact economics of the ferry might take a backseat to the convenience and fun of getting to ride a ferry. And, after all, as Oregonians, we can't let Washington have all the fun.