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Los Ebanos International Ferry

Off Old Military Road, at the Rio Grande in Hidalgo County.

By August 2016Comments

Photograph by Matthew Johnson

The area separating Los Ebanos, Texas, and Díaz Ordaz, Tamaulipas, is less than the length of a football field, but that distance can feel like a light-year. These two towns share an international border on the Rio Grande, and every day a hundred or so vehicles and passengers travel between the two countries aboard the Los Ebanos International Ferry, the last hand-pulled barge of its kind in the United States. It takes five men on the deck to pull the barge’s cable, which stretches across the water. The ferry can transport only three vehicles at a time, but without it, customers would have to make a twenty-mile trip to the nearest bridge, at Rio Grande City. The five-minute journey will set you back a few dollars each way, but it will take you back to a different time, to an era before the words “Homeland Security” became part of our venacular.

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