Train Ferry - History


In 1833 the Monkland and Kirkintilloch Railway operated a wagon ferry on the Forth and Clyde Canal in Scotland. In April 1836 the first railroad car ferry in the U.S., the Susquehanna entered service on the Susquehanna River between Havre de Grace and Perryville, Maryland. The first 'modern' design of ferry, the Leviathan, was designed in 1849 by Thomas Grainger for the Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee Railway to cross the Firth of Forth between Granton and Burntisland. The service commenced on 3 February 1850. It was intended as a temporary measure until the railway could build a bridge, but this was not opened until 1890, its construction delayed in part by repercussions from the catastrophic failure of Thomas Bouch's Tay Rail Bridge; Bouch designed the ferry loading mechanism.

The largest train ferry ever built was the Contra Costa, serving the mainline of the Central Pacific (later assumed by its affiliate, the Southern Pacific) at the Carquinez Strait in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. Its sister ship, the Solano (built before the Contra Costa) was the second largest train ferry ever built.

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