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Cable ferry

From Academic Kids

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Coin operated cable ferry at Espevær in Bømlo, Norway

A cable ferry is a means of water transportation by which a ferry or other boat is propelled and guided across a river or other larger body of water by means of cables or chains connected to both shores. Early manifestations of cable ferries often used rope or steel chains, which were largely replaced by stronger and more durable wire cable by the late 19th century.

They 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 particular 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.

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Cable ferries are the usual way for cars and trucks to cross the Murray River in South Australia

Cable ferries continue to be useful means of water transportation in the 21st century. In Canada, the construction of a cable ferry to transport automobiles across the Ottawa River in Ontario is talked about. 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 the fishing village of Tai O on Lantau Island, Hong Kong, a cable boat service (橫水渡) was available across the Tai O River, before a bascule bridge was built.

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