• Reading Railroad Ferry "Ocean City"

  • Discussion relating to the PRSL
Discussion relating to the PRSL

Moderator: JJMDiMunno

  by EugeneV.Debs
I was wondering if anyone knew what became of the Reading Railroad Ferry Ocean City that was existent at least until 1980 as this photograph from Rich Taylor from the PRSLHS page shows:
http://www.prslhs.com/Rich_Taylor_Photo ... erry_1.jpg
Also, in the book the Atlantic City Railroad it mentions that the Philadelphia ended up as a barracks boat in Groton, CT. Anyone happen to know what happened to that boat?
Matt White
  by anthon2278
I know where this ferry is. It is sitting in Oro Bay on Anderson Island in Washington State. It is partially beached and I saw it today. It has been there for several years now!
  by EugeneV.Debs
Wow, you wouldn't happen to have any pictures would you? Also what kind of condition is it in? Thanks a lot!
  by Twick
I took these on a trip over to Anderson Island, WA. August 16, 07. I tried to get closer but the ferry is on private property and can't be seen from the road. The vessel appears to be reasonable condition. My thought is someone planned into turning it into a living accomadation.
I've looked for information on the Ocean City in "Ferry" links, just happened to run across your posting in a railroad network. Go Figure!
Any history on how it got from the east to west coast?
  by tygurtail
I was searching for info on the ferry and stumbled on your note (as well). I have a home on Anderson Island and was interested in the poor ferry in Oro Bay.

I hope this image doesn't depress you, but this is how she looks now:

http://static.panoramio.com/photos/orig ... 664586.jpg

I'm told some brothers purchased her on a verbal contract intending to put her into service to Anderson Island. They brought her around from Baltimore to the Puget Sound (Northwest Coast) via the Panama canal. I remember seeing her moored at nearby Ketron Island about 30 years ago as she waited to go into service. Word has it the contract fell through when the contract was taken back by Pierce County who took over the service, leaving the brother's out in the cold with and expensive unused boat. I'm told she has been in Oro bay a long time now. I've noticed some travel trailers parked on her deck and she tips when the tide goes out.

What a sad end for a once proud vessel!
  by EDM5970
Comparing the as-built photo to the later two, she was converted to diesel or D/E. Anyone know when? The first photo shows a home port of Norfolk, VA. Where was she used down there, across the James river?

At least so far she has had a better retirement than the Mary Murray, one of the Staten Island boats. The last times I drove up the turnpike she was slowly disappearing. (I rode a few trips in that engineroom back in '71.)
  by Homer5
I grew up in Williamsburg, VA and made many a trip across the James River on the Ocean City. She came up the James to Surry from Norfolk, VA around 1957/58 when the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel opened and displaced the Ferry Service. I do not know when she first came to Hampton Roads, although there is a story of her being run all over Hampton Roads one night by a drunk captain and mate blowing the whistle and playing chicken with other vessels until she ran into dock in Newport News and got hung up in the pilings and was boarded by police who arrested the Captain and mate. She made trips between Hampton and Norfolk as well as Norfolk and Newport News.
I believe that she was converted from steam to diesel around 1952. She had a 1600 horsepower Fairbanks-Morse engine in her and was very powerful.
She was owned by the Virginia Department of Highways and she ran between Jamestown and Scotland Wharf in Surry County from 1957/58 until she was sold to the guys that took her around to Oro Bay in 1984/85. She could carry 48 cars.
He had a contract to provide service to Anderson Island or was trying to secure one and had plans to repower her and provide service. I guess that didn't pan out.
Sad to see her in the condition that she is currently in. I had seen the launch pictures of her and I believe that she had 3 sister ships that were identical. I think they all wound up in Hampton Roads. I think they were the Newport News, Elizabeth City, and the Warwick, but I may have that wrong. I also believe that they had converted them all to diesel and their superstructures had all been converted to the same basic look. This was before my time, so I will check on that and get back to ya. That 1980 photo is the Ocean City in the dock @ Scotland Wharf, Surry, VA.
  by hutton_switch
Homer5 wrote:I I think they all wound up in Hampton Roads. I think they were the Newport News, Elizabeth City, and the Warwick, but I may have that wrong. I also believe that they had converted them all to diesel and their superstructures had all been converted to the same basic look.
I vaguely remember as a little guy, less than the age of 5, going on a ferry from the Hampton Roads area to the eastern shore of Virginia (or vice versa) on some ferry in the early 1950's. Could one of these ferries been one of those on such a route? Thanks.
  by EDM5970
The boats that ran from Little Creek to Cape Charles were all a bit larger and single ended. The Ocean City was typical of a river or harbor ferry, double ended and without the seagates necessary for safe operation on a long open water crossing such as Chesapeake Bay.
  by EugeneV.Debs
Thanks for the pictures!
  by Bruiser
No problem. The Ferry is located in a cool little bay at the island, and adds some real character to it. I always enjoy going in to take a look at her. In finally researching her history, I found this board to post the picture link. There's cool pictures of other things as well on my flikr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stimuleyes. I have found that the HDR technique really brings out fine details of things that you don't notice with your eyes as well as things that don't show up in normal photographs.
  by R,N, Nelson
The ferry service from Norfolk and Hampton Roads (Old Point Comfort-(Ft. Monroe)to the Eastern Shore was by the Virginia Ferry Corporation, not the PRR. The main service was from Little Creek to Cape Charles with lesser service from Old Point Comfort. The Eastern Shore terminal was later changed to Kiptopeke Beach, father up the Chesapeake Bay.

They were not double end vessels, but did load from each end. In other words, the pilot house was only one one end. They would "head in" at Little Creek and Old Point Comfort and back in to Cape Charles and later Kiptopeke.

When the Bridge Tunnel opened in 1958 or 1959, that spelled the end of the ferries including the Newport News-Willoughby ferry, which was a true double ender, much like the one being discussed here.

The VFC vessels were all sold and operated on the newly established Cape May-Lewes Ferry until replaced in the 1970s on that route by new vessels. Some of the VFC crews relocated to Lewes DE and Cape May, NY and operated the vessels but have since retired.All of the VCR vessels are gone.

The replacement vessels also have the "head out and back in" feature. Today they "head in" to Cape May and "back in" to Lewes, DE. One of the five vessels is currently on lease in Long Island, NY. It was surplus since the ferries are running only 75% full and sometimes less due to the economic situation.