The Ferry from Hoorn to Amsterdam

August had a strong sense of civic duty. When he arrived in Hoorn in 1862, the town was in an economic slump, and had lost a considerable amount of its population. He felt strongly compelled to help improve the town's status.

Hoorn had been a significant port for the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigden Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC). In fact Cape Horn, at the tip of South America, is named after Hoorn. However, as the 19th century progressed, steamships came into common use. Sea-going ships were becoming too large to make their way through the shallows around the Friesian Islands to the Zuiderzee, and through the shallows of the Zuiderzee into Hoorn's harbor. Both Den Helder to the North and the ports on the Rhine-Maas such as Rotterdam were quickly becoming the only accessible ports.

Hoorn's problem was mild compared to Amsterdam's, in that access to Amsterdam's port, the Ij, required an even more difficult passage South past Hoorn. Amsterdam responded, albeit slowly and reluctantly, to the challenge to its hegemony as the major VOC port, by constructing a canal, the Noord-Zee Kanal, linking the Ij directly to the North Sea. After an initial failed attempt, the Noord-Zee Kanal was finally begun in earnest in 1865, and inaugurated eleven years later, in 1876.

For Hoorn, the consequence was the end to its status as a VOC port, and a shift of its commercial activity to Amsterdam. At he same time, the canal made land communication between Amsterdam and Hoorn difficult because of the lack of bridges, with the result that agricultural products and manufactured goods, as well as people from the North were trapped, and could not get easily to market. On a contemporary note, the passage by road is still very difficult, because of the heavy traffic and the limited number of crossing points.

August saw that a solution to the problem was the development of a regular sea route to Amsterdam. With his son Theodor, he helped to persuade the Hoorn city government to develop a ferry line. The pictures on the page show the parade of notables, including August and Theodor, going to board the ferry for its inaugural voyage, and the ferry leaving the pier bedecked with flags and wishes for a Good Voyage.

I do not know the year when this service was inaugurated, but judging from the ages of the participants my guess is the 1890's.

The picture above shows parade of dignitaries moving from the Hoorn Tower to the the dock. August is the person slightly to the left of the middle, below the first "basket," walking with his head slightly bowed and with a smile on his face. I believe Theodor is the tall person to the left looking directly at the camera.

In the picture above, the ferry has just left the dock, preceeded by boats flying flags.

Copyright Virginia Utermohlen 2001
Updated December 30th, 2001