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CALIFORNIA DELTA

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----The easiest road link across a waterway, with little traffic on the water slough or the 'asphalt slough', is with a ferry. At one time in the Delta, most of the water crossings were by ferry.

SURPRISES

FERRIES

-----In the early days of farming, boats linked people and produce in the Delta. Eventually, roads were developed for horses, wagons, and buggies. The natural link between the many islands and to the mainland was by ferries. Many of the busiest crossings were operated as a business, and their owners became well known throughout the region. They were also known to the State government of California, who, in the mid-eighteen hundreds was charging licensing fees of $500 a year. These operating expenses were passed on to passengers: wagon - $8, horse and rider - $3, and a singe passenger - $1.

-----When the automobile and trucks replaced horse and wagons, new ferries were built to carry the heavier loads.

-----There were ingenious techniques to move a ferry across a river. If there was a strong current, the ferry would be angled against it, linked to a rope or cable, and pushed across the stream by river power. Horses or humans powered some ferries across, winding along a rope or cable lashed securely to both sides of the slough. A few used steam engines to pull along the cable. Gasoline or diesel engines replaced most other power sources in the 20th century, as more ferries were added throughout the Delta. Through roads, connected by ferries, crossed the Delta from east to west.

-----There are five ferries still operating, but only two are open to the public. Both are free.

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The Real McCoy, free-running with diesel power; -Woodward Island cable ferry

Howard Crossing cable ferry

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Cable Ferry at Little Connection Slough

----Those boaters who intend cruising the Delta, note the submerged cable that extends across the entire slough. Don't attempt a passage either in front or behind the ferry, when it is crossing (if you like your propellers).

(11/03)

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