September 7, 2023
ATI recently participated in the inaugural trip of the annual Alabama Roadshow, hosted by the Joint Transportation Committee of the Alabama Legislature. The goal of this event is to showcase unique transportation features and projects within Alabama to state representatives. This year’s theme, “Bridging Alabama,” took the legislators to their first stop: the Gee’s Bend ferry.
During this trip, the legislators had the opportunity to experience a ferry ride from Camden to Gee’s Bend. Once in Gee’s Bend, they were greeted by the women of the “Gee’s Bend Quilting Collective.” The collective provided an insightful presentation on the significant role quilting plays in their community. They highlighted how a necessary item in their homes became internationally recognized because of the distinct culture in their community. The desire to learn more about the quilts of Gee’s Bend led to a push for tourism to the area, drawing visitors from as far away as Great Britain! They stressed the need for the ferry to bring these tourists to Gee’s Bend.
Gee’s Bend, also known as Boykin, is a rural community nestled on three sides by the Alabama River. The majority of its residents are African American and the community’s isolation due to its geographical location contributed to the preservation of a rich cultural heritage. One of the standout features of this heritage is the unique quilting traditions that Gee’s Bend has been known for and celebrated nationally, and internationally, for many decades.
Historically, Gee’s Bend relied on a ferry to connect it with larger towns, saving its residents from having to undertake an over an hour-long drive on rural roads. However, in 1962, the ferry service was discontinued. Nearly three decades later Congress decided to renew efforts to rebuild the ferry, recognizing its importance to the community. Eventually, in 2006, the Gee’s Bend Ferry was re-established, and it made history in 2020 by becoming the first electric ferry in the United States. This development marked a significant step in the transportation history of Gee’s Bend and improved connectivity for its residents.
Check out pictures from the event on our FlickrATI News