SISTERSVILLE – For the first time since 2018, the Sistersville Ferry will travel the Ohio River for a full season.
The ferry had to close for the 2019 season as it did not have a pilot and ferry officials were unsure if it would be able to reopen.
Bo Hause, the pilot, returned to his post last year, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, the ferry was only able to operate in July 2020.
With the return of the ferry in full swing this year, Gary Bowden, Chairman of the Ferry Board, said the board and community members are coming together to plan events and promote ridership for the 2021 season.
“We were very fortunate to be on the verge of becoming a full board member now, we have a more active board,” Bowden said.
In previous years, the ferry only operated on weekends, but for this season Bowden said it would operate on Mondays on statutory weekends such as Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day.
Local businesses have reached out to the council to offer sponsorships that would cover the cost of people taking the ferry on foot or inside their vehicle.
“It ends up being a kind and gracious gift for the continued operation of the ferry. We haven’t set them in stone yet, (but we) have had two companies that have contacted us and (we) are working on it ”. Bowden said.
Some local and state level grants have been made to help cover running costs. The Tyler County Barth Charitable Foundation provided a grant of $ 30,000.
“(We) received a very generous donation from them, which will help us cover our biggest expenses: salaries, insurance and fuel,” Bowden said.
The state also provided a grant of $ 30,000 to keep the ferry in service. Despite the additional funds, Bowden said donations and income were still needed.
“Financially, we’re a little better this year than we’ve been in recent years, but these grants don’t last forever. We still need people to support the ferry and to donate ”, he said.
Bowden said there has been a surge of support for the ferry, both from locals and from people who may not live in the area but have connections to the Sistersville community.
“A woman from a southern state who was to reside in Sistersville sent us $ 100 in honor of her mother for Mother’s Day. People don’t know how badly we need it. “ he said.
So far, Hause said the season has started on a positive note.
“More and more people are coming out over time, it was a good turnout,” he said. “People are happy to see it’s open full time again for the summer season and hopefully our roster will grow.”
Hause wants residents to enjoy the historic ferry ride directly into their community with people from out of town.
“We are always trying to do something to increase knowledge of the surrounding area. When something is in your backyard, it takes someone to talk about it so that people realize that we have a story in our backyard ”. Said Hause.
The ferry runs Thursday and Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It can be booked for private events of up to 70 people for $ 250 for two hours or $ 350 for three hours.
For more information, contact 304-815-2192.
Candice Black can be contacted at [email protected]