Thursday, February 10, 2011

Elwell's Ferry

The problem with taking along Catherine Bishir's guides on these trips is that I need to stop at as many sites as I can find. My return trip to Greensboro, however, was made easier by the fact that the part of eastern North Carolina I was going through was pretty devoid of historic buildings.

But, there was a hundred-year old ferry just a jog off the road, so I went to investigate. As the North Carolina Historical Marker program wrote about this disappearing mode of transportation:
"Geography dictated the need for ferries during the colonial era in North Carolina. Over time bridges replaced the most of the small inland river ferries. Large vessels, administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT), today cover the vast expanses across the sounds. Only three of the small ferries, also run by DOT, remain. Two are in northeastern North Carolina. In Bertie County, the Sans Souci Ferry crosses the Cashie River and, in Hertford County, Parker’s Ferry crosses the Meherrin River. The other is Elwell's Ferry in Bladen County and crosses the Cape Fear River. All are diesel-powered and cable-drawn. A newspaper writer described such two-vehicle ferries as resembling “a renegade boat ramp—or a floating, fenced-in driveway.” DOT engineers indicate that there is little likelihood that the ferries will be displaced by bridges. Modern high-rise structures cost millions compared with modest costs for staff and fuel. As with other vestiges of the past, such as covered bridges, the ferries generate an allure for locals and for tourists." 

If the ferry is on the opposite side of the river, you just honk your horn to summon it. About 60 to 80 cars use the ferry daily, plus it seems to be a great draw in the summertime (from Internet searches that I did to find out more about it rather than the two sentence mention in the guide).

No, I didn't take it as it would have given me a long detour and I felt weird about just using the ferry to go back and forth across the Cape Fear River.


Anyes said...

It seems like a travel back in time looking at this photograph, there used to be one close by, but they built a bridge and rendered it useless last year.

I love the light in the water:-)

frayedattheedge said...

Oh - you should just have crossed over, turned round and come back!!

moreidlethoughts said...

Cape in the movie?

Karen said...

Anyes: The ferry has been around for more than 100 years (in various forms, of course) and looks like it will be there for a hundred more since the cost of a bridge would be more than this amount of traffic.

Anne: Probably should have, now that I think back on it, but at the time I felt it would have been a nuisance for the ferryman.

Di: Yep. The same Cape Fear river. Cape Fear itself is just outside of Wilmington and was discovered by Verrazzano in 1524.