Posts Tagged: Train Ferry



Train Ferries & Floating Railways

The Solano Car Ferry as a postcard. Image via

As we’ve said numerous times before, we’re not gondola zealots (here, here and here for example). We believe in a multi-modal philosophy of transit planning where technologies co-operate with and complement each other. Modal arguments are generally a waste of time – and that’s coming from someone who specializes in one specific technology.

That’s why we love learning about things like Train Ferries or Floating Railways.

The Contra Costa Train Ferry, the largest such ship ever built.

For a good 50 years around the turn of the century, dozens of these massive feats of engineering ferried trains across great spans of water where bridge and rail infrastructure was insufficient. The sister ships Contra Costa and Solano remain the largest car ferries ever built with the capacity to transport a 48-car passenger train.

And there are still a handful in operation today:

A modern day train ferry. Image via

Like the Cincinnati Funiculars or Auto Gondolas we discussed a good while back, Train Ferries symbolize more than just engineering prowess and mastery. They symbolize mutual respect and co-operation between modes.

The Central Pacific Railroad Museum has a truly amazing collection of images and photographs of both the Solano and Contra Costa. Due to copyright restrictions, we can’t reproduce them here, but we’d encourage any transit geek or enginerd to check them out, because it really is impressive.

Seriously, take a look at them, you’ll be amazed at the things we were doing a hundred years ago.

(Thanks to Steve for tipping us onto these things!) 

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