Watch for flashing signs on Highways 12, 113, and 60. These signs provide drivers with an early warning when the ferry is not running so they can adjust their routes to bypass the ferry. For up-to-date ferry information, Call 511 or (866) 511-9472. Click Here for Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation. The Town and Village of Merrimac are not briefed when there is a ferry closure.
The ferry has been in operation since 1848. In 1844, Chester Mattson along with George Grant built the ferry across the Wisconsin River. Each passenger was charged five cents to ride the ferry, as well as 25 cents for each horse and 40 cents for a team of oxen.
In 1924 Sauk and Columbia Counties took over the operation of a wooden ferry, Colsac I, carrying eight cars across now Lake Wisconsin, charging 35 cents per car and 5 cents for pedestrians and 75 cents for trucks.
The State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation took charge of the ferry operation in 1933, allowing all passengers and vehicles to cross the lake free of charge. In 1963, Colsac I was replaced by Colsac II. The Colsac II had the capacity to carry 12 vehicles. In 2003, the Colsac III, a 15-car ferry, was christened and now makes the routine voyage across Lake Wisconsin.
The Merrimac Ferry, which crosses the Wisconsin River between Sauk and Columbia counties, is Wisconsin's only free ferry. It shuttles WIS 113 traffic between Okee on the east bank and Merrimac on the west. The ferry is open for service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, normally from April 15 through November 30.