Reaction ferry

A reaction ferry is a cable ferry that uses the reaction of the current of a river against a fixed tether to propel the vessel across the water. Such ferries operate faster and more effectively in rivers with strong currents.

Reaction ferry crossing the Rhine at Basel, Switzerland

Some reaction ferries operate using an overhead cable suspended from towers anchored on either bank of the river. Others use a floating cable attached to a single anchorage that may be on one bank or mid-channel. Where an overhead cable is used a "traveller" is usually installed on the cable and the ferry is attached to the traveller by a bridle cable. To operate the ferry either the bridle cable is adjusted or a rudder is used, causing the ferry to be angled into the current, and the force of the current moves the ferry across the river.

The ferry may consist of a single hull, or two pontoons with a deck bridging them. Some ferries carry only passengers, whilst others carry road vehicles, with some examples carrying up to 12 cars.

Worldwide usageEdit



The Lytton Ferry across the Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada, is a reaction ferry using an overhead cable and traveller, visible in the upper right corner.

At one time over 30 reaction ferries crossed the rivers of British Columbia, primarily the Fraser River and the Thompson River. Those still operating include:

In Quebec, the small Laval-sur-le-Lac–Île-Bizard Ferry operates seasonally across the Rivière des Prairies from Laval-sur-le-Lac to the Île Bizard.


Reaction ferries cross the rivers Sava and Drava.

Czech RepublicEdit

The Aken Ferry, Germany


A number of reaction ferries operate in Germany, particularly across the rivers Elbe and Weser. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, they were quite common on the Rhine. Currently operating ferries include:

The Westerhüsen Ferry across the Elbe in Germany is a reaction ferry using a floating cable attached to a mid-channel anchorage, to the right of the boat.


The Traghetto di Leonardo [it] is a historic reaction ferry across the Adda River at Imbersago. It is reputed to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Traghetto di Leonardo, Italy



New ZealandEdit


A number of reaction ferries operate:

Ferry in Czeszewo, Poland (Warta river)
Ferry in Gniew, Poland (Vistula river)


Border-crossing ferry, Záhorská Ves in Slovakia and Angern an der March in Austria



Four ferries which carries passengers only cross the Rhine in Basel.[5][6]

Three such ferries cross the Aare in Bern.

Hampton Loade Ferry, England

United KingdomEdit

The Hampton Loade Ferry, which carried passengers only, crossed the River Severn at Hampton Loade in Shropshire until 2017. It was operated partly by the current and partly by punting.

United StatesEdit

Several reaction ferries crossed rivers in the Ozark Mountains of the central United States during the first half of the 20th century. The Akers Ferry across the Current River near Salem in Missouri remains in operation. Menor's Ferry in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was a dual-pontoon reaction ferry built in the 1890s and operated until 1927. A replica was constructed by the National Park Service in 2009.[7][8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "UPERIS River crosser". Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Prom rzeczny (52.215265,18.434951)" [River ferry (52.215265,18.434951)]. Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
  3. ^ "Prom rzeczny (50.290066,20.801754)" [River ferry (50.290066,20.801754)]. Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
  4. ^ "Prom rzeczny (52.055176,15.42901)" [River ferry (52.055176,15.42901)]. Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
  5. ^ Stiftung Basler Fähren
  6. ^ Reaction ferries are really clever
  7. ^ Repanshek, Matt (August 4, 2009). "Menor's Ferry Back in Service At Grand Teton National Park". National Parks Traveler. Retrieved 29 October 2022.
  8. ^ "Menors Ferry Historic District". National Park Service. July 20, 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2022.

External linksEdit