A Kayak Adventure to See the Ghost Ship in Northern Kentucky

A few of my friends helped me cross a kayak adventure to see the “Ghost Ship” off my list.

I’d been wanting to see it for a while and even put it on my Summer Bucket list. Summer flew by and I think I technically squeezed it in… but just barely.

Selfie with the Ghost Ship

What is the Ghost Ship?

The “Ghost Ship” is an abandoned ship in a creek in Northern Kentucky.

The ship has a lot of history and has been deteriorating into a shell of its former life for decades.  Originally the ghost ship was launched in 1902 as “The Celt.” 

It was used in both World Wars and was a ferry for tourists in Manhattan for over 40 years. 

The Ghost Ship was used briefly in the background of Madonna’s music video “Papa Don’t Preach.”

Later it was privately purchased and has been resting in a creek in northern Kentucky off the Ohio River for over 30 years.

For more in-depth detail, I would recommend reading this article by Queen City Discovery.

(They already did a great job of providing extensive research on the ship)

A Kayak Adventure to See the Ghost Ship

To make your adventure to the Ghost Ship as easy as possible you need two things, a kayak and someone who knows where it is.

I was fortunate that two other adventurous moms were willing to be my guides and also supply the kayaks.

kayak on the Ohio River

How to Get to the Ghost Ship By Kayak

260 S. Tanners Cr, Tanners Creek Boat Ramp at Ratliff Landing

We started our adventure at Tanners Creek in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

Kayak to the Ohio River

The distance from Tanners Creek to the Ghost Ship was a shorter distance than I expected.

I should note that I was expecting that our paddle could take up to a few hours.

Ghost Ship 14 e1530041150686

After we passed the power plant on the Indiana side we were on the lookout for the first creek on the right side which is in Petersburg, Kentucky.

Petersburg is around 25 miles downstream from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Power Plant on the Ohio River

The Ghost Ship was a little farther back in the creek than we anticipated. The low water levels prevented us from kayaking back to the ship.

Instead, we had to get out at the shoreline.

We discovered that you do NOT want to get out where the creek and the Ohio River connect.

Ohio River

One of my friends quickly discovered that the mud shifted like quicksand. She kept sinking her foot farther and farther into the mud when she tried to walk.

We were finally able to get her and her shoe out of the mud but it was a little scary.

wooded view of the Ghost Ship

The Ghost Ship in Kentucky

We walked up on the Ghost ship starting from the left side of the creek.

wooded view of the Ghost Ship
A Kayak Adventure to See the Ghost Ship
A Kayak Adventure to See the Ghost Ship

Don’t Climb Aboard the Ghost Ship

It was really tempting to try to climb on board but the flimsy ladder did not look like a safe option.

A Kayak Adventure to See the Ghost Ship

Plus the ship has a LOT of rust! It’s best to admire from afar.

group selfie with the ghost ship

I did take a few shots with the selfie stick to try to see the inside and of course, get a group selfie.

A Kayak Adventure to See the Ghost Ship

After taking lots of pictures, we decided that we wanted to see what the right side of the Ghost Ship looked like. 

A Kayak Adventure to See the Ghost Ship

We had to get back into our kayaks to end up on the other side of the creek shoreline.

kayak on the Ohio River

It’s important to also be respectful of the private property and not walk around beyond the edge of the creek.

Creek to Ghost Ship
creek with Ghost Ship

We were even caught in a little rainstorm which made the setting a little more magical and a little spooky.

Ghost Ship

The right side definitely had the best views!

Ghost Ship

A reader who saw my image on Facebook asked me if the abandoned ship was haunted and I told her that I wouldn’t want to find out!

writing on Ghost Ship

I loved that you could see the faded signage from when it was the Circle Line V.

front of the Ghost Ship
A Kayak Adventure to See the Ghost Ship 30
A Kayak Adventure to See the Ghost Ship 52
A Kayak Adventure to See the Ghost Ship
View of the ship from the woods
View of the ship from the woods
A Kayak Adventure to See the Ghost Ship

It was really fun to discover this local hidden gem thanks to my friends!

Group Selfie with the Ghost Ship

A kayak adventure to the Ghost Ship is definitely worth adding to your list!

Ghost Ship

How to Find the Ghost Ship in Kentucky

Below is a map to help you find the Ghost Ship for your next kayak adventure.

A Kayak Adventure to See the Ghost Ship

11 thoughts on “A Kayak Adventure to See the Ghost Ship in Northern Kentucky”

  1. Anyone recall the river level at the time of this trip? I have an inflatable kayak and I’m concerned about taking it up this creek. Also, opinion about launching from Petersburg Park and going upstream a mile and a half.

  2. Great article! Thanks for all the detail. I will be taking my kids there this summer! Any other tips would be appreciated.

  3. What a great story.thanks for all the pics and directions. i am a kayaker on the west coast but if I get into the Lawrenceburg area I will sure check the old girl out!

  4. It was the USS Sachem in WWI and USS Phenakite in WWII. The people who own the land also own the ship. The ship was far more than a harbor patrol craft. She was a training vessel but was also a East Coast patrol vessel. She was a naval anti submarine warfare research vessel under Thomas Edison in WWI with involvement by the Roosevelt’s. We have her 1902 construction yard drawings, Both her WW2 Captain and the helmsman at least are still living. I am a volunteer donating time to the Raise the Sachem Campaign out of the D’Andrea LaRosa Art Foundation in Lawrenceburg, IN doing research (like the drawings and crew list) to aid in eventual restoration efforts should it be feasible.

  5. I am so excited that I came across your blog! I have been trying to find some more exciting things to do in the Cincinnati/surrounding areas!

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