Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sistersville Ferry Shuttles On...

BY Kristen Rapin

The historical Sistersville Ferry shuttles users across a scenic stretch of the Ohio River.

The Sistersville Ferry has been continuously carrying passengers between Fly, OH, and Sistersville, W.V. since 1815, making it the longest operating mode of transportation for Monroe County. The ferry crosses at the apex of the 20-mile “Long Reach,” which is the longest stretch of the Ohio River.

The oldest of four ferries located on the Ohio River, the Sistersville Ferry is also the only ferry that operates along the 277-mile border between Ohio and West Virginia.

The ferry is not only an attraction for tourist but serves locals as well. The Sistersville Ferry daily charters almost 100 cars across the Ohio River. Most passengers are locals commuting between Ohio and West Virginia. Without the use of the ferry many people would have to travel out of their way to work since the nearest bridge, St. Mary’s Bridge, 20 minutes away.

Ferry passengers bypass the bridge, and opt for a leisurely five-minute commute to the opposite bank. This slower mode of transportation allows passengers time to observe the river and its surroundings.

In 1999 the first new boat and barge were put into operation doubling the ferry’s capacity to a tractor-trailer or 8 cars. Prior to 1999 the boat and barge were always used.

The Ohio River creates such openness that on clear day you can see Beaverton, OH, seven miles south, and Sardis, OH, five miles to the north.

Since its founding, the ferry has only officially been closed twice for reasons other then weather -during the Civil War and from 1987-1989. In 1980 the City of Sistersville purchased the ferry, which had been privately owned.

Normal business hours are 6 a.m to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Each car cost $3 to cross the river. Currently the ferry is not operating due to winter weather but will resume normal hours at the end of March or early April.

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