Ford (crossing)

A ford is a shallow place with good footing where a river or stream may be crossed by wading, or inside a vehicle getting its wheels wet.[1] A ford may occur naturally or be constructed. Fords may be impassable during high water. A low water crossing is a low bridge that allows crossing over a river or stream when water is low but may be covered by deep water when the river is high.

Rawney Ford (geograph 4388083)
Rawney Ford on the Bothrigg Burn, a tributary of the White Lyne in Cumbria, England.
RelatedNone, but akin to causeway
DescendantNone, but akin to step-stone bridge
Span rangeShort
MaterialUsually none (natural, preexisting), but sometimes supplemented with concrete or asphalt for vehicles.
Design effortNone or low
Falsework requiredNo
Theb0771 - Flickr - NOAA Photo Library
Crossing the Red River near Granite, Oklahoma in 1921
Milkhouse ford through Rock Creek - 1960 National Parks Service
Crossing the Milkhouse ford through Rock Creek in 1960
Ford next to bridge Aufsess
A ford next to a bridge that can carry only 1.5 tonnes in Aufseß, Germany


A ford is a much cheaper form of river crossing than a bridge, but it may become impassable after heavy rain or during flood conditions. A ford is therefore normally only suitable for very minor roads (and for paths intended for walkers and horse riders etc.). Most modern fords are usually shallow enough to be crossed by cars and other wheeled or tracked vehicles (a process known as "fording").

In New Zealand, however, fords are a normal part of major roads, including, until 2010, along State Highway 1 on the South Island's east coast.[2] As most inter-city domestic passengers travel by air and as much cargo goes by sea, long distance road traffic is low and fords are thus a practical necessity for crossing seasonal rivers. In dry weather, drivers become aware of a ford by crunching across outwash detritus on the roadway. A Bailey bridge may be built off the main line of the road to carry emergency traffic during high water.

At places where the water is shallow enough, but the material on the riverbed will not support heavy vehicles, fords are sometimes improved by building a submerged concrete floor. In such cases a curb (kerb) is often placed on the downstream side to prevent vehicles slipping off, as growth of algae will often make the slab very slippery. Fords may be also equipped with a post indicating the water depth, so that users may know if the water is too deep to attempt to cross. Some have an adjacent footbridge so that pedestrians may cross dryshod.


A road running below the water level of a stream or river is often known as a "watersplash". It is a common name for a ford or stretch of wet road in some areas, and sometimes also used to describe tidal crossings. They have become a common feature in rallying courses. There are enthusiasts who seek out and drive through these water features, recording details (such as wave created, position and access) on dedicated websites.[3]

There are many old fords known as watersplashes in the United Kingdom. Examples are at Brockenhurst in Hampshire, Wookey in Somerset, and Swinbrook in Oxfordshire. Some of these are being replaced by bridges as these are a more reliable form of crossing in adverse weather conditions.

The Dean Ford in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, is mentioned in the deeds of Dean Castle, which was gifted to the local people. The ford has had to be maintained as a property boundary feature, despite several cars a year being washed away.

Not just a British phenomenon, some very spectacular versions of the watersplash feature can be found in diverse locations. Australia has the Gulf Savannah, and others may be found in Canada, Italy, South Africa, and Finland. They are also found on some Tennessee backroads, where they are referred to as "underwater bridges".

In Israel and part of the British areas under the mandate a low water crossing or watersplash had been known as "Irish bridge"[4] in reference to the Anglo–Irish war.[5][6]

Location names

The names of many towns and villages are derived from the word 'ford'. Examples include Oxford (a ford where oxen crossed the river: see the Oxford coat of arms); Hertford, the county town of Hertfordshire (the ford where harts cross or "deer crossing"); Ammanford (a ford on the River Amman); and Stratford (a ford on a Roman road). Similarly, the German word Furt (as in Frankfurt, the ford of the Franks; Ochsenfurt, synonymous to Oxford; Schweinfurt, a ford where swine crossed the river; and Klagenfurt, literally "ford of complaints") and the Dutch voorde (as in Vilvoorde, Coevorden, Zandvoort, or Amersfoort) are cognates with the same meaning, all deriving from Proto-Indo-European *pértus 'crossing'. This is the source of Brythonic and Gaulish ritus (modern Welsh rhyd; the Welsh name of Oxford is Rhydychen "ford of oxen"), which underlies such names as Chambord (from Gaulish *Camboritum "ford at the bend") and Niort (Novioritum "new ford").

Towns such as Maastricht, Dordrecht, and Utrecht also formed at fords. The ending tricht, drecht, or trecht is derived from the Latin word traiectum, meaning "crossing". Thus the name Utrecht, originally the Roman fort of Traiectum, is derived from "Uut Trecht", meaning "downstream crossing". The Afrikaans form was taken into South African English as drift and led to place names like Rorke's Drift. Similarly, in Slavic languages, the word brod comes from the linguistic root that means "river-crossing" or "place where a river can be crossed". Although today "brod" in the Croatian language means "ship", Slavonski Brod in Croatia, as well as Makedonski Brod in Macedonia and other place names containing "Brod" in Slavic countries, where "brod" is still the word for ford, are named after fords.

Famous battles

Alphonse de Neuville - The defence of Rorke's Drift 1879 - Google Art Project
The Battle of Rorke's Drift in the Anglo-Zulu war

Because in historic times a ford was often a strategic military point, many famous battles were fought at or near fords.

In fiction


Rye Water Ford, Dalry

The Rye Water Ford in North Ayrshire, a rare unmodernised crossing of a minor river

2014-10-20 12 12 09 View north along Rock Springs Road (Elko County Route 763) about 22.8 miles north of Wilkins-Montello Road (Elko County Route 765) at the Little Goose Creek in Elko County, Nevada

A ford along Elko County Route 763 (Rock Springs Road) in rural northeastern Nevada, United States

Stanhope Ford

A ford in Stanhope, England. This crossing is now permanently closed following a spate of accidents[7]


A ford in a 19th-century oil painting. In this instance the ford may have artistic or symbolic significance


A Berber family crossing a ford in Algeria

Brockenhurst Ford

The ford at Brockenhurst, leading into the village centre, following heavy rain

Ahne Furt Steg bei Weimar v O

A ford, with pedestrian footbridge, on a minor road near Weimar bei Kassel in Germany

Fording an Indian River.jpeg

Fording an Indian River, c. 1905

See also


  1. ^ Thompson, Della, ed. (1995). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (Ninth ed.). Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-861320-6.
  2. ^ "End of the road for last traffic fords left on State Highway 1". Media statement. NZTA, Christchurch Regional Office. 28 December 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  3. ^ "An online guide to every UK ford, watersplash and tidal road". Retrieved 2011-09-23.
  4. ^ The Be'er sheva ford was officially called Irish bridge
  5. ^ Yehuda Ziv - מורשת דרך- the sources of the "Irish bridges"
  6. ^ explanations about the source of the term Irish bridge
  7. ^ Stanhope Ford's permanent closure approved, BBC News, 21 February 2012

External links

Bend, Texas

Bend is an unincorporated community in Lampasas and San Saba Counties in Western Central Texas. The population was 1,678 as of the 2010 census. It is located on Farm to Market Road 580 on the western leg of a horseshoe-shaped bend in the Colorado River. The Lampasas County portion of Bend is part of the Killeen–Temple–Fort Hood Metropolitan Statistical Area.


Blanchetaque is a former ford crossing of the River Somme, in the Somme department in Hauts-de-France in northern France. The name of the ford is derived from the white stones marking the way across the river. Saigneville was on the southern side of the ford, before the construction of the Canal de la Somme. The ford was the site of the Battle of Blanchetaque in 1346, during the Hundred Years' War, between an army of King Edward III of England and a French force lead by Godemar I du Fay.


Curraha, also written Curragha (Irish: Currach Átha, meaning "the ford/crossing at the marshy/boggy area"), is a small village located 4.5 km from Ashbourne and 4 km from Ratoath, County Meath, Ireland on the R155 road between Ratoath and the junction with the N2. The built-up area is mainly within Crickstown townland.

The area of Curraha stretches from the road towards Ratoath with the border not far from Ratoath Rugby pitch down to past Kilmoon Cross. It also stretches from Greenpark Bridge over to the N2 (along the 'Bog' of Curraha).

Ford (disambiguation)

Ford is an automobile manufacturer founded by Henry Ford.

Ford or Ford's may also refer to:

Ford (crossing), a shallow crossing on a river

Ford crossing, West Toodyay

The ford crossing is a natural feature of the Avon River in West Toodyay, Western Australia. It was used by the early settlers in the area to cross the river before the construction of the West Toodyay Bridge.

For many years the whereabouts of the ford remained a mystery. It is not marked on any early survey map. In addition, the building of the West Toodyay Bridge in 1902 negated its use and details of its existence were lost. However, research carried out and published in 2010 revealed that the ford crossing was, and still is, a natural feature of the Avon River. A wide rocky shelf spans the river immediately upstream from the West Toodyay Bridge. It would have facilitated an easy crossing. In addition, the approaches on either side are relatively protected from erosion during times of flood.It is highly probable that the rocky ford crossing was part of a long established trail used by the local indigenous Ballardong Noongar people as they travelled up and down the Toodyay valley.The ford proved ideal for the passage of horse, cart and wagon across the Avon River. If, however, the river was in flood, any crossing of the river would have been too dangerous to attempt. Nevertheless, unlike other purposely built fords, there appear to have been no reports of damage to the ford, even in times of severe flooding, nor of any repairs having been carried out to its approaches.

On the upstream side of the ford lay a long pool. The pool was fed by a permanently running spring that entered the river bed from the north side of the Avon River. Thus, throughout the heat of summer, the pool was ever present. The Military Barracks also stood upstream from the ford crossing on the left hand bank of the river. The ford crossing proved to be of paramount importance to the early inhabitants of the town of Toodyay as well as those in the valley beyond.


Fords may refer to:

Ford (crossing), a shallow crossing on a river


Hurlford (Scottish Gaelic: Baile Àtha Cliath) (officially Hurlford and Crookedholm) is a village in East Ayrshire, Scotland. It has a population of 4,968. Hurlford's former names include Whirlford and Hurdleford. The village was named Whirlford as a result of a ford crossing the River Irvine east of Hurlford Cross, near Shawhill. It shares its name in Gaelic, Baile Àtha Cliath ("The Ford of the Hurdles") with the Irish capital Dublin.

The village's Blair Park is home to Hurlford United F.C. and many notable footballers have been trained there.

Lancaster Crossing

Lancaster Crossing, also known as Indian Ford, Pecos Crossing, Solomon's Ford, Crossing of the Pecos, Crossing Rio Pecos, Ferry of the Pecos, and Ford Canyon Crossing, is an historic ford and ferry on the Pecos River, between Crockett County and Pecos County just southeast of Sheffield, Texas. Named after nearby Fort Lancaster, it is one of the few natural fords on the Pecos River, otherwise known for its steep banks that made crossing difficult.

Long Melford

Long Melford (or Melford, as it is known locally) is a large village and civil parish in the Babergh district, in the county of Suffolk, England. It is on Suffolk's border with Essex, which is marked by the River Stour, approximately 16 miles (26 km) from Colchester and 14 miles (23 km) from Bury St Edmunds. It is one of Suffolk's "wool towns" and is a former market town. The parish also includes the hamlets of Bridge Street and Cuckoo Tye.

Its name is derived from the nature of the village's layout (originally concentrated along a 3-mile stretch of a single road) and the Mill ford crossing the Chad Brook (a tributary of the River Stour).

Manitoba Provincial Road 587

Provincial Road 587 (PR 587) is a former provincial road in the Canadian province of Manitoba, that was paved with gravel.


Oxenford may refer to:

A ford (crossing) for use by oxen

Oxenford, Queensland

Historic name of Oxford, Oxfordshire, a city in England

Alexander Oxenford, MP

Bruce Oxenford (born 1960), Australian cricket umpire

Daphne Oxenford (born 1920), English actress

Earle Oxenford, the present-day leading candidate for alternative "Shakespeare" authorship

John Oxenford (1812–1877), English dramatist

Peter Pilkington, Baron Pilkington of Oxenford (1933–2011), Conservative member of the House of Lords

Penwortham Castle

Penwortham Castle was built on the south bank of the River Ribble, at Penwortham to the west of Preston, Lancashire, England, at grid reference SD524291. The site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.It was built shortly after the Norman conquest as a motte castle by Roger of Poitou. It served to guard the estuary of the river and a ford crossing it. When Roger built Lancaster Castle, Penwortham declined in importance. Now only the mound remains.


Pfersee is a part of the city of Augsburg, Bavaria with some 25.000 inhabitants on the western shore of river Wertach. In 1911 Pfersee was incorporated to Augsburg.

The name Pfersee probably derives from “fert” (Furt), meaning a ford (crossing).

Pfersee is first mentioned in 8th century, but there also are important archeological findings such as a brazen horse-head which was part of an equestrian statue, probably dedicated to emperor Hadrian.

From 1560 until 1875 in Pfersee there was a noted Jewish community with a number of renowned chairmen, rabbis and scholars, mainly from the Ulmo (Ginsburg) family, who until the beginning of the 19th century was in possession of the so-called “Pfersee handwriting”, the oldest almost complete surviving handwritten edition of the Babylonian Talmud, dated from 14th century, which now is at the Bavarian State Library in Munich. in 1627 the Jewish community of Pfersee along with the neighboring Jewish communities of Steppach and Kriegshaber established a common Jewish cemetery, today usually attributed to Kriegshaber, which became part of Augsburg in 1916 as well.

River crossing

A river crossing is a means to get from one river bank to the other and may refer to:

A ford (crossing)

A bridge

A tunnel

Any type of ferry

A cable ferry

A reaction ferry

A water taxi

Route F88 (Iceland)

Öskjuleið, or Route 88, is a road in north-east Iceland. The road heads south from Route 1, a ring road, close to the volcanic crater Hrossaborg, to Route 910, not far from Askja.The road is the primary route to the tourist hotspots of Herðubreið and Hrossaborg.

St Andrew's Church, Sapiston

St Andrew's Church is a redundant Anglican church in the village of Sapiston, Suffolk, England. It is recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade I listed building, and is under the care of the Churches Conservation Trust. It stands at the end of a track to the south of the village, adjacent to Grange Farm and near to a ford crossing the Black Bourne stream. The church served what became a deserted medieval village

Stepping stones

Stepping stones or stepstones are sets of stones arranged to form a simple bridge or causeway that allows a pedestrian to cross a natural watercourse, such as a river; or a water feature in a garden where water is allowed to flow between stone steps. Unlike other bridges, they have no spans. Stepping stones, along with log bridges, are likely to have been the earliest bridge types. They are sometimes built by hikers. They may be impossible to cross when the river level is high. They may be disarranged by the force of the river when it is flowing unusually powerfully.

In traditional Japanese gardens, the term "iso-watari" refers to stepping stone pathways that lead across shallow parts of a pond. Using iso-watari for crossing ponds, or shallow parts of streams, one can view the fish and plants around or in the pond, like carp, turtles, and waterfowls. It works like a bridge, in a slower way of crossing.

Towamba, New South Wales

Towamba is a small community, in New South Wales, Australia in Bega Valley Shire. It is located about forty minutes' drive west of Eden. At the 2016 census, Towamba had a population of 234 people.Along with settlements such as Burragate, Pericoe, Rocky Hall and Kiah, Towamba was one of the settlements established after Benjamin Boyd began to open up the area to European settlement in the 1840s and 1850s.

This small community has had a public school since 1862 located in Towamba Street. The original ford crossing the Towamba River was opposite the old Police Station, now a private dwelling. The first bridge built across the river was swept away in the 1919 floods where every bridge on the river was swept away.

Towamba remains a small service centre for the neighbouring agricultural community.

Waterford Township, Dakota County, Minnesota

Waterford Township is a township in Dakota County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 517 at the 2000 census.

Waterford Township was organized in 1858, and named from a nearby ford crossing the Cannon River.

Streets and roadways
Types of road
Road junctions
Road safety factors
Space and time allocation


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.