Armorial Bearings granted to Robert Lord alias Laward of London in 1510; College of Arms MS L10 folio 105b; copyright of the College of Arms, London. Used by permission.

A Delaware River Ferry model - 2015


This is the first ferry model I have made, and an interesting type to model. 

Scale = 1:35; total hull length  = 19.75 inches. Width = 3.15 inches

Diorama/baseboard is 24" x 7.5"


This boat was built for Robert Reid to honor his ancestor, George Lightheiser, who was with the Continental Army that crossed the Delaware River with General Washington on Christmas, 1776. Delaware River ferries like this were used to haul artillery and associated baggage on that night. The research supporting this model is indicated in the page list on the index page.

Click any image below to view enlarged.




Ferries had moveable ramps at each end that were controlled by long poles and could be lowered to match the river bank at the landing. To avoid having to turn the boat in mid-stream, identical ramps were located at each end. This is the outboard end showing the ramp raised, with the ends of the poles held in place under iron hooks. The typical ferry sweeps or oars, shown here, were used to help propel the boat.



This is the "front" end, at the landing, with the poles unhooked to allow the ramp to lower. Ropes secure the boat against the bank for loading and unloading. Lengthwise planks serve as running boards for carriage and wagon wheels while cross cleats give horses footing while entering or leaving the boat.



This is the view as it would have appeared waiting on the riverbank to load. Due to the heavy snow a slushy ice is encroaching on the motionless boat. The mini-diorama helps present how these 18th century ferries used simple technology to adjust to the uneven terrain, and changing river levels, at the landing.


Making it real...

One of the exciting aspects of modeling is seeing your creation go beyond just a static vessel display. The new owner of the Delaware River ferry model, Robert Reid, wanting to create the atmosphere of this boat as used in the 1776 Crossing of the Delaware, embelished it with additonal items he collected and created(below)

Since ferries like this were reserved by General Washington for transporting the artillery and associated cargo, inserting appropriate items, such as these, makes the boat not only come alive and seem more active, but also helps cement the historical setting.


Well done!


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