Manns Harbor – It all started with a single route linking Manns Harbor and Roanoke Island in 1947. Now, the North Carolina Ferry System will be filling the summer months with tours, contests and events celebrating 70 years of providing safe, affordable and reliable transportation across eastern N.C.

North Carolina’s first state-run ferry route was between this landing in Manns Harbor, NC and Roanoke Island. The route was eventually replaced by the William B. Umstead Bridge in 1957.

“Ferry service in eastern North Carolina didn’t start with us, but I do think we’ve modernized and improved it,” said Ferry Division Interim Director Jed Dixon.

The North Carolina Highway Commission (predecessor of the Department of Transportation) began subsidizing privately-run ferry routes in 1934 in order to keep tolls affordable for both locals and visitors. In 1947, the commission purchased T.A. Baum’s five-mile route across Croatan Sound from the mainland to Manteo. Three years later, the commission purchased Toby Tillett’s ferry service across Oregon Inlet onto Hatteras Island.

Today, North Carolina has the second largest state-owned ferry system in the nation, with seven regular routes over five different bodies of water. State ferries carried more than 800,000 vehicles and nearly 1.9 million passengers last year. They also helped evacuate Ocracoke Island before Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew arrived.

In summer 2018, the Ferry Division will add new direct passenger ferry service between Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Village in order to alleviate seasonal backups that occur on the popular Outer Banks route.

Among the items marking the Ferry System’s 70th Anniversary:

State Shipyard Tours – The Ferry Division will conduct public tours of the Manns Harbor Shipyard at 10 a.m. on June 29, July 27, Aug. 24, and Sept. 28. Space is limited, and those wishing to participate will need to make reservations in advance by emailing Tim Hass at [email protected].

Photo Contests – Ferry passengers are invited to submit photos for use on the Ferry System’s social media pages by tagging Instagram or Twitter photos with the hashtag #FerryFotoFriday, or by posting them in a comment on the Ferry System’s Facebook page. Each week, a photo will be selected by department staff to be used for a Facebook and Twitter #FerryFotoFriday post.

The Ferry System will also post historic ferry photos on social media every Thursday.

The 70th Anniversary celebration will run through September. You can follow the Ferry System on Facebook and Twitter.


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