I often visit Den Bosch. It’s not far from where I live and it’s an interesting place with lots to see and do. Whenever I go anywhere I tend to walk around a lot. Den Bosch is no exception and every time I go there I always find something new. On one of my more recent visits, I decided to take a walk along the riverside and found a chain ferry. I’d never seen one before, but when I did some checking online I discovered many countries have chain ferries or something similar called a cable ferry. The only difference between the two is one uses a chain and the other uses a cable. Some of the larger ferries of this type are motor driven. The Den Bosch chain ferry has to be operated by hand. It takes a little hard work, but it’s free to use and quite a fun way to cross the river Dommel.
How the Chain Ferry Works
The ferry is basically just a floating platform with somewhat of a boat-like appearance and it has a hand on each end. There are two more hand cranks on land, located at either side of the river. A long loop of chain (cable ferries use steel cable) spans the river and feeds around the two pulley wheels on the river bank and the pulley wheels on the ferry. When any of the cranks are operated it takes up the slack in the chain under the water and as soon as the chain becomes taut the ferry begins moving in the desired direction. I found it quite hard work at first, but when the chain ferry gained some momentum the cranking process became a lot easier.
History of the Den Bosch Chain Ferry
Hand powered ferries have been used all over the world since before recorded history and early ones used ropes instead of a metal chain or cable. From what I can gather, the Den Bosch Chain ferry has only been in uses since 2003, so it’s not that old. It appears to be quite popular with pedestrians and cyclists alike because it provides easy access to the Bossche Broek nature reserve. The ferry even has a name—de Moerasdraak (The Swamp Dragon).
How to Find the Swamp Dragon
The ferry is not far from Wilhelminaplein and is only about 30 minutes walk from the centre of town. The walk from the train station takes a similar amount of time.