Back in service
WINDSOR – The work is done and one of the area’s oldest and most unique river ferries is back in service.
The San Souci Ferry, one of only three remaining inland cable ferries in North Carolina, resumed operation this week after an extensive, year-long renovation.
The ferry, which connects Woodard Road and San Souci Road over the Cashie River in rural Bertie County, was pulled out of the water in October 2017. Since then, NCDOT crews and contractors have given the diesel-powered vessel a complete overhaul and rebuilt the gear house and other accessories on the boat. The total cost of the overhaul was $100,000.
San Souci Ferry is operated by the NCDOT’s Division One office based in Edenton. It has been in operation since the 1930’s and is capable of transporting two vehicles at the time. An earlier, even more primitive version of this ferry was in operation back in the 1800’s.
The Sans Souci Ferry is literally driven, or one could say guided, by a steel cable that stretches across the river. The cable is secured on each side of the river by steel posts. As the ferry crosses the river, the force of the boat, with the help of rollers on the side of the boat, pulls the normally submerged cable out of the water. The cable is permanently secured to the ferry and prevents the boat from straying off course in normal river currents.
The ferry carries a maximum of two cars and does not operate in high water conditions or storms, as there is too much risk of the cable snapping in such treacherous conditions.
Persons wanting to ride the vessel that happen to be on the opposite side of the river than the ferry must blow their vehicle’s horn to summon the operator.
The free trip by ferry across the Cashie River takes roughly five minutes and saves a drive of about 20 miles.
The other two cable ferries that are still operating in North Carolina are Parker’s Ferry, that crosses the Meherrin River in Hertford County, and Elwell Ferry, that fords the Cape Fear River in Bladen County.