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Hoist the Anchor!

By Staff | May 4, 2016

Photos by Miles Layton For nearly 200 years, Sistersville’s ferry has served as a bridge for people traveling between two states across the Ohio River. Thursday marks the beginning of another ferry season in which thousands of people will utilize the crossing during the next several months.

SISTERSVILLE Ferry season opens Thursday.

“We are really excited to be opening and hope that our loyal customers and many new friends will come and join us for this short but historic ride across the Ohio River,” said Barbara Gage, chairwoman of the Ferry Board. “We really look forward to perpetuating the ferry as a special treasure in our community and in the West Virginia and Ohio River valley.”

Ferry Captain Herman “Bo” Hause said he has been eagerly awaiting opening day.

“Many people come to Sistersville every year from out of town and other states around the country just to ride the ferry for the nostalgic fun of it,” he said.

Hause said the high point of the season will be the Ohio River Ferry Festival on July 30.

Ferry Captain Herman “Bo” Hause said he is eagerly awaiting opening day. Retired U.S. Coast Guard, Hause said he looks forward to meeting new people and making friends.

“Last year was first for the event and the positive comments were overwhelming,” he said. “We had over 900 people ride the ferry that day.”

Gage added, “We’re expecting large crowds, wonderful vendors, great entertainment and support for this historic transport vehicle.”

Recently elected Sistersville City Councilman Alex King worked with Monroe County, Ohio, Commissioner Mick Schumacher to establish the festival. He also serves as a link between the ferry board and the Monroe County Commissioners.

“I, like many people, am looking forward to another successful ferryboat season,” said King, a member of the Ferry Board. “The Ohio River Ferryboat Festival will surely be another high point, but I would like for the Ferry Board to look back on this season as one in which we continued to expand and cultivate partnerships.”

The hours and days of operation will be the same as last year Thursday and Friday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The fairs have changed this year. Due to higher operating costs, it is necessary to increase the price to cross the river. Anyone walking-on remains $1 while motorcycles are $4 and single-axle vehicles are $5. Additional axles are $2 and tractor trailers are $18. The ferry can be rented for private parties/events. Saturday and Sunday it is available after 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday anytime. The cost is $250 for two hours or $300 for three hours.

Hause said he has been driving boats professionally since 1982 when he joined the U.S. Coast Guard. After Hause retired, his family settled nearby. He said the the ferry is a historic part of Sistersville and Tyler County.

“I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time when a pilot was needed. I was brought up on the the East coast and have been on boats and around water all my life,” he said. “Being the ferry pilot allows me to meet all kinds of people from all over. I enjoy making new friends on the ferry.”

King added, “The Sistersville Ferry is important to Tyler County because it symbolized resilience. It’s more than a connection to Monroe County. It’s our connection to history.”

King said starting this year, the ferry passengers will receive donations for Frequent Fly Miles, a program in which people have a chance to win prizes just by riding. Those prizes are donated by local businesses as a dual incentive to ride the ferryboat and spend locally.

Operations Manager Gene Rice, Captain Hause, the Sistersville Planning Commission, the city crew, and many others saw to it that the docks are renovated and back in the water.

Gage also has praise for Rice.

“He is a very dynamic member of the Ferry Board who has been instrumental in re-establishing the docks and keeping the ferry running smoothly,” she said.

And Gage thanked Sisterville Mayor Bill Rice for his continuing support of the ferry.

“Mayor Rice has been willing to appoint ferry board members from Ohio to help sustain the operation of the ferry,” she said.

Dock spaces are available for rental. Those who are interested in renting a dock space can call City Hall at 304-652-6361. Anyone interested in donating to the Frequent Fly Miles should contact 304-771-8835 or alkwriter@outlook.com.