Elwell Ferry, near Elizabethtown, NC, qualifies as one of our state’s rare treasures, in that it is one of the 3 remaining cable ferries left in NC.
Two brothers, Walter and John Russ, started the service back in 1905, and it was the only crossing available between Elizabethtown and Wilmington until 1952. Spanning a relatively short distance across the Cape Fear River, this ferry can only carry about 2 cars or roughly 4 tons of weight at a time, and connects the Carvers Creek and Kelly communities..to summon the ferry, just honk your horn! Our inland ferries actually operate under NC-DOT, vs our coastal ferries, which fall under the ferry division. All 3 of the cable ferries were incorporated into DOT back in the 1930s.
Although once constructed of wood, the ferry is now a steel, power operated ferry. It travels aproximately 110 yards when crossing, and usually takes about five minutes. There is no charge to take this ferry. However, it might be a good idea to check to be sure it’s open..on the day that we visited, it was closed, which is unusual.
Final photo is view of downriver from the ferry, by photographer Keith Green
We have included some links if you’d enjoy knowing a little more about this part of our heritage, and would like to mention that the other two cable ferries are Sans Souci and Parker’s Ferry..We would also like to thank Keith Green, George Bair, and myself, Deborah, for the use of these fine photos! Keith is a photographer we often feature on our Facebook page, and more of his pics can be enjoyed at our debut issue, under the “coastal” section.