SOLON — 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, March 2, at his home in Solon.

For 20 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. 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 more than 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 Gov. 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, June 22, 1957. He was predeceased by his parents, the late Gov. James B. and Mrs. Helen W. Longley.

He is survived by the love of his life, Susan Wilber of Solon; and her family, Tracy and Tim Sawyer of Newport, Greg Wilber of Corinna; and grandchildren, Cole Sawyer, Kylee Sue and Gauge Wilber; his brother, former Congressman James B. Longley Jr., and his wife, Susan, of Yarmouth; sisters, Kathryn M. Longley-Leahy and her husband, Thomas G. Leahy, of Yarmouth, Nancy Longley Moore and her husband, John C. Moore, of Winnetka, Ill., and former State Senator, Susan Longley of Liberty; and 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.

Anyone wishing to express their condolences to the family may do so on our online guestbook at www.smartandedwardsfh.com.

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