Last update:Tuesday, 22-Sep-2009 10:41:36 MDT
My grandmother's brother, Scrap Williams ran a store which sat at the edge of the river. The store is gone now but to the best of my recollection it was there up until at least the mid 70's. Maybe someone else can remember that store and elaborate.
It was here that I first saw and experienced this small unique one-car ferry and watch it operate. In colonial days a ferry landing such as this was privately owned. It was first propelled across the river with oars and/or poles. Later it was pulled back and forth by animal power such as oxen, horse or mule. Where the river is quite wide the ferry was pulled back and forth by sisal hemp rope or cable attached to a pulley that was anchored on the opposite shore. The ferry was then returned by towing it back from across the river by an attached rope to the stern of the ferry. Charges varied according to the load. Single passage on foot, horse and rider, cart or wagon loaded or empty.The towing equipment was homemade and was used in conjunction with an oxen or some other type of animal trained to walked around and around a stationary turnstile that had a large drive drum around which a tow rope was wrapped around it a couple of times to allow the rope to pull the small ferry back and forth from bank to bank. The ferry could make the return trip when the animal went in the opposite directs and then pulled the ferry back to the original landing.
When I first saw the Ferry at Sans Sauci in the 1930’s it had been taken over by NCDOT, which was the State Department of Transportation of NC. The 10 X 20 ferry had been outfitted with a four-cylinder model "T" gasoline engine that was mounted on an extended platform located in the middle portion of the flat bottom boat. A metal drum was attached to the drive shaft of the ferry's motor with a cable wound around it a couple of times to allow it to move the ferry. It would go forward or backward as the need required. Around the drum / pulley passed a steel cable that allowed the ferry to be pulled back and forth as it was towed by the engine to the opposite bank of the Cashie River.
Whenever you arrived at the landing and wished to pass over the Cashie to the opposite side you would give a long "toot" with the car's horn to alert the operator that you needed assistance to cross over the river. The operated was usually on duty during the daylight hours of the day. It you had an emergency you probably could talk the operator to give you assistance durn night time hours. You usually could catch him at home almost at anytime of the day. Someone stated that there was a store on the west side of the landing. This could have been where the operator lived in the combination house and store there at the landing. During the times I went to San Sauci I don't recall ever seeing a sign hung across the ferry entrance saying: "Out to lunch-will be back at 2:00 PM”. The Ferry was State operated with no fee charged to cross to the opposite side. This landing was a favorite place for us to launch our boat to get in some good fishing. When I lived in Williamston in the 1950’s and the retail stores in those days closed on a Wednesday afternoon this landing was only eight mile and was near enough fo us to get there and catch a mess of Brim or Yellow Belly Perch before the sun started to faid away and start to set. About five miles upstream from the landing the Cashie River narrows considerably and the shoreline becomes shallow with a good sandy bottom. When sunfish are bedding it the springtime this area presented one of the best fishing location in the eastern part of the state. It was during the spring that the Herring Fish migrated upstream to spawn. Long pound nets were set out all along the edge of the banks of the river to make huge catches. Also gill nets were strung from pole to pole and set to catch all types of fish from herring, catfish, ells, perch, etc during this time of the year. Like I say, San Sauci was a wonderful place to visit and fish not only in the springtime but year around. Loc Smallwood, the grandson of Dr Charles Smallwood from Indian Woods, during this time was the Game Warden for Bertie County. This was one of his favorite places to have a stakeout to check to see if you had stayed within the rules of the law. Which you know, I always did!