Brent Ferry

Brent is an area along Kentucky 8 and the Ohio River just south of the I-275 bridge. The area may best be known for the Brent Ferry which carried passengers to Coney Island Ohio from Coney Island Station, the original name for Brent, for years prior to the opening of the I-275 bridge.

The Brent area along Route 8 had a ferry operating between Campbell County and Coney Island in Ohio for many years. One account said James Bateman started the ferry there about 1874.

For the generations of Campbell County people and others who took the ferry between Brent and Coney Island, the familiar figure was John Laughead.

A native of Xenia, Ohio, Laughead had moved to Fort Thomas with his father in 1925 and later worked in Fort Thomas as a taxi driver.

He decided to change careers in 1933 by buying the 18-foot motorboat the ''Whoopee Girl'' and get in to a ferry boat service at Brent. Laughead also purchased a houseboat so he could live on the Ohio River.

And in 1934, Laughead added a larger 30-foot scow to his ferry operations. He named the new boat the ''John D.'' for himself. That boat was then replaced from 1940-1949 by the ''Ferry Queen.''

Laughead then purchased a World War II landing craft, which he named the ''Ferry Princess.'' He operated that boat from 1949 to 1968.

The ''Ferry Prince'' was then added as a second boat in 1956 and the ''Ferry Princess II'' purchased in 1968.

The final blow to Brent's identity came with the closing the ferry between Campbell County and Coney Island in 1976 after the opening of the Interstate 275 bridge rendered the ferry unnecessary.

In 1978, two years after the Interstate 275 bridge opened, Laughead closed the business and sold his two boats - the Prince and the Princess II - to the city of Portsmouth, Ohio. Portsmouth needed the boats after a problem there closed the U.S. Grant Bridge, the only bridge between Portsmouth and South Shore. The ferry boats were pressed into use across the Ohio River.

At the time the Brent ferry was closed, Laughead told reporters he had averaged 24 Ohio River crossings a day, seven days a week with many of those customers going to either Coney Island or River Downs.

The only reminder today of the old ferry boat operations is the underpass that goes beneath the railroad tracks between Ky. 8 and the Ohio River that once was used by passengers to gain access to the ferry.


from a Fred Westermeyer post on the Facebook page Old Photos Of Cincinnati