When the Toad Suck Bridge opened in 1970, the Toad Suck Ferry was relocated to Peel, Arkansas, where it transported passengers across Bull Shoals Lake until it was decommissioned a few years ago.
The Faulkner County Historical Society is working with the City of Conway and the Faulkner County Museum to establish the ferry at Toad Suck Ferry Damsite Park as part of a memorial to its longtime history on the Arkansas River.
Plans are to restore it as closely as possible to its initial look, with orange paint, paddlewheels and a restored pilot house. A rope barricade and commemorative plaque will be installed.
Dates Back to Civil War
The Toad Suck Ferry crossing on State Highway 60, six miles west of Conway, was first established about the time of the Civil War. The society pins the beginning to 1820.
The name was derived from a story about a saloon on the river bank at the site of the ferry. It’s said that, back in the steamboat days, boat hands and passengers and thirsty inhabitants of the area stopped at the tavern to quench their thirst.
Heavy drinking at the saloon led a traveler to say, “Those fellows suck at the bottle until they swell up like toads.” The name caught on, and the place has been called Toad Suck ever since.
Dave Ward, a hard-working local blacksmith, operated a shop on Harrison Street in the early 1930s. He and three employees shoed as many as 100 horses a day, as well as working on other projects. Ward was responsible for building the Toad Suck Ferry, which operated across the Arkansas River until the Toad Suck Bridge was built in the early 1970s.