Stephen J Longley

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Stephen J. Longley
June 22, 1957- March 2, 2013


Steve Longley, known throughout the Appalachian Trail hiking community by his trail moniker, "The Ferryman", passed away unexpectedly, yet peacefully, in his sleep early Saturday morning, March 2nd at his home in Solon, Maine. For twenty years, from 1987 to 2007, Steve operated the Appalachian Trail Conference's Kennebec River Ferry Service where the Appalachian Trail crosses the Kennebec River in Caratunk, Maine. Well known for his dedication, Steve was featured in a multitude of articles and documentaries as he managed one of the most formidable and treacherous, un-bridged crossings along the entire 2,174-mile length of the Appalachian Trail. During his tenure, he transported over 19,000 hikers safely across the Kennebec's swift, powerful current "without a scratch". On his retirement in 2007, he was named "Partner of the Year" by the Maine and New England Appalachian Trail Clubs in honor of his faithful service to trail hikers.

A Registered Maine Guide and Wilderness First Responder, Steve was known as much for his quick wit as his intense love and loyalty to his large extended family and hundreds of close friends. Steve was dedicated to the Appalachian Trail and the Kennebec River. In 2001, Mark Simpson, then president of the Maine Appalachian Trial Club described Steve in Downeast Magazine article, stating, "Most (trail) hikers know Steve Longley simply as 'The Ferryman'... But they all know him. His identity has become blended with the Appalachian Trail and the river. The whole shebang know him. Steve's a typical Maine guy. He's very laid back, easy to get to know, but he truly cares about the trail and its community, and he takes his job extremely seriously..."

Steve also spoke often about the inspiration given to him by his father, the late Maine Governor James B. Longley, who occupied the office as an Independent from 1974 to 1978. "He proved you could be the underdog and win. I model myself after my father" said Steve. In explaining his work ethic, Steve recalled his father and said, "There's no substitute for hard work. I may not be a governor or senator, but I'll be the best ferryman I can be." Steve summarized his philosophy in the Downeast article when he said, "I took the road less traveled, and now my road has become more popular, so maybe I should look for a different road... I'm not going to be The Ferryman forever. When I move on, all that matters is [that] I left this place in a little better shape than I found it."

Steve leaves a legacy, formed with his trademark red canoe, a personal flotation device for him and each of his passengers, a paddle, his physical strength, mental toughness, keen knowledge of this river, and most of all, his love and respect of nature and the peacefulness it offers.

Stephen Joseph Longley was born in Lewiston, Maine, June 22, 1957. He is predeceased by his parents, the late Governor James B. and Mrs. Helen W. Longley. He is survived by the love of his life, Susan Wilber of Solon, Maine, and her family, Tracy and Tim Sawyer, of Newport, Maine, Greg Wilber of Corinna, Maine; and grandchildren, Cole Sawyer, Kylee Sue and Gauge Wilber, by his brother, former Congressman James B. Longley, Jr., and his wife, Susan, of Yarmouth, Maine; sisters, Kathryn M. Longley-Leahy and her husband, Thomas G. Leahy of Yarmouth; Nancy Longley Moore and her husband John C. Moore of Winnetka, Illinois; former State Senator, Susan Longley, of Liberty, Maine; and by his nieces and nephews, Matthew J. Longley., Sarah J. Longley, Daniel J. Leahy, Kevin L. Leahy, Margaret M. Moore, Caroline L. Moore, John C. Moore, Jr., and Robert "Mac" Moore.

Comments for Stephen J Longley (4)

  1. #1 nitewalker
    Re: Stephen J Longley
    R.I.P The Ferryman!!!!!
  2. #2 ga2me9603
    Re: Stephen J Longley
    So, so sad. Way too young to die, not even 56. You got this non-swimmer safe and sound across the Kennebec in August 2003, Ferryman! Thanks for a job very well done.
  3. #3 wicca witch
    Re: Stephen J Longley
    Stephen {FERRYMAN} Will b much missed He was & always will b in my memories. Mr. Stephen got me across the Kennebec last yr. Very humorus funny man wit lots of stories R.I.P. Wicca witch sends out his blessings
  4. #4 litefoot2000
    Re: Stephen J Longley
    I will never forget his kindness and enthusiasm. When I arrived at the Kennebec in 2000, he treated me as if I were his first ever patron to be ferried across. RIP!!