Reaction Ferries

This is how some of the ferries along the San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tuolumne Rivers in the Central Valley worked. It had to be a part time proposition there – those rivers just aren’t that wide and during the late summer and winter there wasn’t that much flow so oxen and mules were needed to pull.
It seems like I was researching Burney’s Ferry just north of Riverbank about 30 years ago when I read the explanation about how it operated. I remember I was all excited about it and told Pops how it worked when I ran into him at work the next day, saying it was a brilliant idea. He gave me one of those looks, shook his head and said “No, that’s common sense. You’re just a stupid fucker is all.”

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10 Responses to Reaction Ferries

  1. Andrew says:

    Sometimes the simplest things are the most difficult to understand.

  2. Cederq says:

    I used to family summer camp at Knights Ferry on the Stanislaus River, you ever hear about that place in your studies Ken?

  3. Greg says:

    Somewhat related, but with a bit more engineering involved.

  4. Robert says:

    I can’t watch videos but I bet a “reaction ferry” is quite similar to a canoeist’s ferry in which you angle your boat just right and paddle just right and tah-dah! you end up on the opposite bank of the river without having gone up or downstream. Sure wish I could watch videos… (not blind just yet, merely have a data cap and effed-up browser).

    • Wirecutter says:

      Naw, launch the ferry that’s tethered off to line stretched from one bank to the other and just use the rudder and water current to get you across.

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