Site of ferry landing, looking from Cameron toward Monkey Island
Photo taken by Patrick Feller
License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)
BH Photo #284580
Monkey Island was created in the late 1930s when the Calcasieu Ship Channel (completed in 1941) was dredged across the sharp bend in Calcasieu Pass. Two ferries were thus required to carry the highway west of Cameron until the state highway department re-routed LA 27 around the north side of the island in the early 1950s. The newer ferry was moved upstream with the road to become the main Cameron Ferry, while the older ferry now only connected to Monkey Island.
By the last quarter of the 20th century, the Monkey Island Ferry (along with several of the state's other small ferries) became a source of controversy due its high cost of operation and low customer base. A December 1996 report quoted the yearly cost at over $265,000 for only seven families living on the island - a figure which ballooned to $682,000 by 2003. Plans for a bridge were discussed as being much more economical in the long run, but this never came to fruition.
State leaders threatened to eliminate the ferry service several times over the years, but it continued to operate until Hurricane Rita devastated the area in 2005.