A cable ferry or chain ferry is a means of water transportation by which a ferry or other boat is guided and in many cases propelled across a river or other larger body of water by means of cables or chains connected to both shores. Ferries of this type are also called punts, especially in Australian English, and in Africa they are often called pontoons, referring to the flat-bottomed type of vessel, but this is also used for ferries without chains and cables.
Both of the last two types described here work on the principle of using powered cogs or drums on board the actual vessel to pull itself along by the cables. The cables or chains have a considerable amount of slack built into them, in order that they sink below the surface as the ferry moves away, thus allowing other vessels to pass without becoming grounded, snared or trapped. Where a ferry carries both passengers and vehicles, the design is such that the car deck occupies the centre (helping to balance the vessel) and two passenger areas are built at the sides, over the tunnels for the chains and the engines. As the ferry cannot steer, a ramp is built at both ends, and there is usually a set of controls facing in either direction.
Ferries are common where there is little other water-borne traffic which could get snagged in the cable or chains, where the water may be too shallow for other options, or where the river current is too strong to permit the safe crossing of a ferry service not attached to the riverbanks. Alignment of the platform at each end of the journey is automatic and, especially for vehicle ferries, safer than a free-moving ferry might be in bad conditions.
Cable ferries were particularly prominent in the era of canals during the 19th and early 20th centuries in Europe and North America. Such devices allowed the transfer of canal barges continually from one canal to another across a river in the presence of a substantial transverse flow. A cable ferry across the Delaware River constructed in 1831 allowed large-scale the transportation of coal from the Lehigh Valley directly to New York City via the Morris Canal without reloading of the canal boats.
Cable ferries were also particularly prominent in early transportation in the Sacramento Delta of California. At one time, cable ferries were a primary means of automobile transportation in New South Wales in Australia. In Tasmania, for a century before 1934, the Risdon Punt at Hobart was the only fixed method of crossing the Derwent River within Hobart city limits.
In the early 1900s, an underwater cable ferry that William Pitt (Canada) designed was installed on the Kennebecasis River near Saint John, New Brunswick in Canada. There are now eight cable ferries along the Saint John River system in southern New Brunswick.
Cable ferries continue to be useful means of water transportation in the 21st century. Most of the road crossings of the Murray River in South Australia are cable ferries operated by the state government. The cables are anchored to the shore at both ends, and the ferry propels itself along the cables by diesel engines pulling the cables. The platforms at the ends can be moved up or down according to the water level.
In Canada, a cable ferry is proposed to transport automobiles across the Ottawa River in Ontario. There are several in BC: two on the Fraser, one a Lytton, another at Big Bar. There are three more on Arrow Lakes. A suspended cable ferry worked until the 1980s in Boston Bar. A small seasonal cable ferry carries cars across the Rivière des Prairies from Laval, Quebec (Sainte-Dorothée neighbourhood) to Île Bizard (part of Montreal). Dozens of cable ferries operated on the Columbia River in the US northwest, though most have been rendered obsolete by bridges. A suspended cable ferry for railway cars worked the American River in Northern California.
WIPO PUBLISHES PATENT FOR "SELECTABLE DESTINATION UNDERWATER TOWED CABLE FERRY SYSTEM AND GUIDANCE MECHANISM" (EMIRATI INVENTOR)
Nov 23, 2011; GENEVA, Nov. 21 -- Publication No. WO/2011/141778 was published on Nov. 17. Title of the invention: "SELECTABLE DESTINATION...
Marine Park shows rich history with rivers: Editor's Note: Planning is under way for New Bern's 300th anniversary by Swiss Bear Development Corp. Today, a closer look at the proposed Maritime Historical Park on Jack Island.
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