Answer Man: What’s the origin of the Balboa Island Ferry?

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oIn the early 1900s, real estate developers underwrote temporary ferry services from Balboa (the end of the trolley line from L.A.) to the subdivisions around Newport Bay. Only the Balboa Island Ferry proved useful enough to survive. Attempts at ferry service to Balboa Island had been made since 1906, but the first supposedly regular service—a rowboat with a single-cylinder engine and dedicated landings—came in 1909. In 1919, island lots started selling better, and Joseph A. Beek took over and improved ferry operations. Beek’s first little boats were for people, not vehicles. But they could push a barge full of automobiles. It wasn’t until 1922 that cars could be driven directly onto a larger ferry. Today, the ferry—still run by the Beek family—transports about 1.5 million passengers annually. I’d guess half of them are on their way to buy a Balboa Bar or frozen banana.

Chris Jepsen is the Answer Man. Have a question? Send it to cjepsen@socal.rr.com.

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