Stephen J Longley

June 22, 1957March 2, 2013

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. A private memorial service will be followed by a public celebration of Steve’s life and legacy in the spring.

Arrangements are under the care and direction of Smart & Edwards Funeral Home, 183 Madison Ave., Skowhegan, Maine. Anyone wishing to express their condolences to the family may do so on our online guestbook at


Stephen J Longley

have a memory or condolence to add?


receive updates when new memories are posted

Sharon Eugley

March 30, 2014

Just reread all the posts with tears in my eyes ...what a wonderful, giving human being he was ... I was lucky to have met and know him. from the early years and RT... God Bless your Soul Steve...

October 25, 2013

I will never forget Steve. The great times Mark Johnson and I had staying in one of his old camps during hunting season. I still have one of his old canoes he sold me one year. Every time I use it I think of him and how skilled he was at using it on that crazy river. He was always glad to see us and welcomed my son to the hunting camp when he was 15. Life goes on, but I will certainly miss you Steve. Thanks for the friendship.
Gere Flewelling
Loudon NH

John Mitchell

May 28, 2013

I have been planning a section hike of southern Maine beginning June 21 that included a ferry ride over the Kennebec River when I first read about Steve Longley. I was not only inspired by his 'road less travelled' approach but also to his dedication to the AT and the outdoors, and I looked forward to meeting him. I was saddened this morning to learn of his passing. He will no doubt be greatly missed but long remembered by those that share his dream.

Ed Brown

May 12, 2013

Never met Steve, but I wish I had the opportunity. He will be missed.


Stacey Ann DeLisle

April 27, 2013

The Ferryman! He took me across the river one fine July morning. The next time I saw him I was in 2 feet of snow lost from the AT in December. He is an angel and lived life like we all should. I hope to see him on the other side. Stacey Ann DeLisle
Rome, Maine. Clinton, Ct., White Oak, Ga

April 1, 2013

I was saddened to read of Steve's passing in the recent issue of the MAINEtainer. Steve ferried me across the Kennebec in 2004. He also drove me up the road to get a burger, gave me a paperback book in exchange for the one I had finished (it was about the Korean War), and then took me back to the trail.

My AT thru-hike was many things to me, but especially it showed me how many good people there are in the world, and how big a difference you can make by doing little things for people. Steve was part of that experience. He will be missed, and he will be remembered by many with gratitude.

Barb Nash (Late Start)

Tim Walsh

March 29, 2013

There was nobody on the AT, that helped more hikers reach their dreams then the 'Ferryman'. He helped thousands of people's dreams come true. The job of a ferryman is not an easy one, and it doesn't make anyone rich. But it would be hard to find a richer man then Steve. He took the road less traveled, and there are few people that can match the life that he had. "I'm not going to be The Ferryman forever. When I move on, all that matters is I left this place in a little better shape than I found it." Ferryman, nobody can ask for more. Your life will live on, as long as there is a shuttle across the Kennebec River. Rest in Peace

March 27, 2013

I just read this. Very saddened yet very inspired. I wish that there were more people like Steve in the world.

Jim Dunn

March 22, 2013

I was very saddened to learn of Steve's passing. I worked with Steve back in the 'Rolling Thunder' days as well as working the ferry crossing for him back in the early 90's. Steve was kind and gentle and but I will remember him most for his tireless dedication to the rivers and to those who shared his love for them, I am already planning a pilgrimage to the ferry crossing on the Kennebec where I know his spirit will always return. Rest in peace brother, I will cherish the memories of all the adventures we shared both on and off the river. Jim Dunn Wells, Vermont

Kathi Fischer Feely

March 18, 2013

Steve was like a big brother to me. Our parents grew up on the same street,we went to the same church and worked at the same place, my 1st job Hall and Knight. It was there we became friends and he invited me to his world, by the Kennebeck River in The Forks. He took a little city girl to the outdoors and changed my life forever. He introduced me to my future husband Michael, and we all worked and played, by and on, the rivers. We were part of his Rolling Thunder family, and we made life long friends with the whole crew. We shared so many adventures together, up in "God's Country". He even tought me how to drive a standard vehicle so I could take his truck and trailer to the take out every day. When our son Anthony was born, Steve became his Godfather, and was always a part of our family. Time and distance have kept us apart these last few years, but the memories of all the wonderful good times we shared will live on. I am so sadden, as we all are to have Steve leave this world so soon. Two weeks later I still cannot believe it's true. I will truely miss his bear hugs and spending time chatting with him. Good bye my dear friend Steve, this world will never be the same with out you. You leave quite a legacy by touching so many people with your kindness,generosity, and big smile. To Nancy, Susan, Cass, Jim and Sue, my deepest condolences.