NC Ferry System Celebrates 75 years of Service

The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s, (NCDOT) Ferry Division is celebrating 75 years of service this season.

The origin of our state’s ferry system dates back nearly a century. In 1924, Captain J.B. Tillett began connecting people from the northern Outer Banks to Hatteras Island. Ten years later the North Carolina Highway Commission, predecessor to NCDOT began subsidizing Tillett’s ferry line to reduce tolls. In 1942 NCDOT began fully subsidizing the line, and in 1947 the Department purchased the ferry route, commencing the NCDOT state operated ferry system.

NCDOT’s ferry system is the aquatic extension of our state highway system, and an essential part of transportation in eastern North Carolina. Now the second-largest state ferry system in the country (after Washington state), the NCDOT Ferry Division is instrumental in helping to the tourism industry, disaster recovery, and overall commerce.

There are seven different ferry routes, most of which are located around 2.5 hours east of the Triangle:

  • Currituck-Knotts Island
  • Hatteras-Ocracoke
  • Bayview-Aurora
  • Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach
  • Swan Quarter-Ocracoke
  • Cedar Island-Ocracoke
  • Southport-Fort Fisher

As part of their 75 year celebration, the NCDOT is collecting stories and memories from employees and visitors of the ferry system dubbed “Ferry Tales.”

Transportation is all about bringing people together and NCDOT’s ferry system continues to do just that. Happy 75 years of service and here’s to many more in the future.

Let’s get moving,

Joe Milazzo II, PE
RTA Executive Director

RTA is the voice of the regional business community on transportation

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