Re: C&O Lake Michigan Ferries, was Crappy Job
Daniel A. Mitchell
Yes, the “Chief” was scrapped, but first she was cut down to a barge and sailed about the lakes for several years before being cut up.toggle quoted messageShow quoted text
And nobody has yet mentioned the various railroad river ferries. These were operated by the C&O, Pere Marquette, N&W, and CN at least. All, or nearly all were originally self-propelled boats, but in later years those that survived (sort of) were cut down to barges (car floats) and used about by tugs (Towboats). This cut the crew requirements to about a third of those required to operate the original ferry.
CN had two such towboat-barge assemblies at Port Huron, MI, operating to Sarnia, Ont. C&O had one similar ferry at the same location. The CN barges (cut-down ex PM ferries) were interesting, in that they still had all their original equipment below decks. The boilers and engines, etc., were al still “down there”. Exploring below decks was challenging … little light, and lots of lifted deckplates. One wrong step and you were in for a fall into the bilges. The two towboats (Margaret York and Phyllis York) were very similar, but one had twin Cat. outdrives, and other had three. There was also one spare car float, that was an almost complete self-propelled ferry with most or all of it’s upper-works intact. Supposedly it came from somewhere in the Canadian “Maritimes”. I never saw it used.
A few of us knew one of the CN Captains, and could go over to Port Huron or Sarnia and ride the boats whenever we wanted. The Captain worked mostly at night, so that’s when we rode. We’d make three or so crossings each night. Lots of fun. In the winter sometimes a big ice flow would come down the river and push the entire ferry way down river before they could bust free. Many memories, all long past.
The car float aprons are all still there, now used mostly by fishermen. The tracks are long gone.