Tide turns in Sistersville Ferry’s favor with first full season in years
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 because it did not have a pilot and ferry officials weren’t sure if it would be able to re-open.
Bo Hause, the pilot, came back to his position last year but with the COVID-19 pandemic, the ferry wasn’t able to operate until July 2020.
With the ferry coming back in full swing this year, Gary Bowden, president 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 that we are close to a full board membership now, we’ve got a more active board,” Bowden said.
In previous years, the ferry only operated on weekends but for this season, Bowden said it will run on Mondays of holiday weekends such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.
Local businesses have reached out to the board to offer sponsorships which would cover the cost of people riding the ferry either on foot or inside their vehicles.
“It ends up being a kind and gracious donation for continued operation of the ferry. We haven’t set those in stone yet, (but we) had two businesses reach out to us and (we’re) working on that,” Bowden said.
A couple of grants from the local and state level were awarded to help with operating costs. The Barth Charitable Foundation in Tyler County provided a $30,000 grant.
“(We) received a very generous donation from them which will help us to cover our biggest expenses: wages, insurance and fuel,” Bowden said.
The state also awarded a $30,000 grant to keep the ferry operating. Despite those additional funds, Bowden said donations and revenue are still needed.
“Financially, we’re in a little better shape this year than we have been in recent years but those grants don’t last forever. We still need people to support the ferry and make donations,” he said.
Bowden said there has been an outpouring of support for the ferry whether it be from locals or people who may not live in the area but have ties back to the Sistersville community.
“A woman from a state in the south who must have been a resident of Sistersville sent us $100 in honor of her mother for Mother’s Day. People don’t know how much we need that,” he said.
So far, Hause said the season has begun on a positive note.
“More people are coming out as time goes on, it’s been a good turnout,” he said. “People are glad to see that it’s open again full time for the summer season and I hope that our passenger list picks up.”
Hause wants locals to take advantage of the historic ferry right in their community along with people from out of town.
“We’re always trying to do something to increase the knowledge of the surrounding area. When something is in your backyard, it takes someone to talk about (it) to get people to realize we do have history in our backyard,” Hause said.
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 for 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 reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.