a thousand words Beyond the Hill

Brett Marshall

Tommy Brooks is a ferry boat captain on the Green River in Mammoth Cave National Park. For the past 15 years Brooks has sat in a four-by-seven foot room where he works the five joysticks that control the ferry.

“Peaceful down here, ain’t it?” said Brooks as the cool air touched the back of his neck through the open window of the “Good Ship Lollipop,” as Brooks likes to call it.

Brooks isn’t sure how old he is, “I’m 58 or 59, I forget,” he said while sitting in a chair on the ferry.

As headlights approached the ferry Brooks said, “It’s too early for the tourists to be moving around.” The clock above Brooks’ head read 7 a.m.

The ferry is a vital lifeline for natives from places such as Bee Springs and Cub Run, who without the ferry would have to drive 30 or 40 miles out of the way to reach the same destination.

Though peaceful on that morning, Brooks said it isn’t always that way.

“This old river can get rowdy sometimes,” he said.

He would know because he grew up near the ferry in Forks of the River.

Recalling memories from his youth, Brooks said, “We’d play in this old river all day long, boy.”

Brett Marshall is a senior photojournalism major from Florence. He can be reached at [email protected]