Forgotten Crafts: Ferryman

The Netherlands is a country of water. It's everywhere. Every city, town, and piece of land is crossed by a maze of canals, ditches, rivers, lakes and the like. It was very common that the shortest way from home to school, work, church, or the market crossed water somewhere. If you did not have a boat, you would have to take a considerable detour to the next bridge.

Therefore, at strategic points in rivers and canals people would row or haul you to the other side for a small fee. These ferrymen where still very common in the 1960s and my mother still remembers jumping on the ferry every morning to go to school. She often was expelled from the ferry because she would jump onto the ferry when it had already left the shore. Because this was dangerous, the ferryman would make her get off again and walk the two-kilometer detour to teach her a lesson. Somehow it did not have the desired effect, this to great frustration of the ferryman.

However, as infrastructure improved and more people bought themselves cars and motorcycles taking the detour instead of paying the ferryman became a viable alternative and by the 1980s the profession had mostly become extinct. Nowadays, only the big ferries remain, operated by large ferry companies.