|UPDATE 7/07/2020 - After a summer without a ferry service, the Sistersville community welcomed Captain Bo Hause and his deckhand back to the riverfront again.|
Officials say the ferry has crossed the Ohio River between Tyler County, West Virginia and Monroe County, Ohio for more than two hundred years. However, the ferry service stopped in September of 2018, when its latest pilot, Captain Hause, left to find steadier work.
The ferry board and the City of Sistersville worked to find Hause full-time work in the off-season. Now he’s back at the helm for his eighth year as the vessel’s captain. After another delay created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ferry began carrying people across the river again. Despite being away from the ferry for more than a year, Hause is no stranger to anyone.
“It feels good [to be back]. I enjoy it. I like driving, I like being on the river,” said Hause. “The majority of these people I’ve met before. I’m bad with names, I don’t remember everyone’s name, but everybody is an acquaintance.”
Most of the ferry’s customers were glad to see the vessel operating again as it is a big time saver for drivers. It can take around 40 extra minutes to reach the other side without the ferry.
Hause says the prices one way, per vehicle, are $5 per car, $4 per motorcycle, $1 for walkers and bicyclists, and $3 per axle on utility trailers. The ferry runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and runs 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
10/8/2019 - The ferry in Sistersville was closed for the 2019 season due to staffing issues.
The ferry has struggled for years to keep going.
Whether of not the 2019 closure is permanent remains to be seen.
The ferry has been in operation since 1815. It provides transportation between Sistersville and Fly, Ohio. This ferry is one of only four remaining along the Ohio River, the site said, and the only one that serves the portion of the river bordering West Virginia.
Herman “Bo” Hause, the pilot of the ferry, took another position which left a vacancy for someone to operate the ferry, the Coast Guard recently enhanced its requirements for operators due to increased barge traffic.
The ferry operates on donations and fares along with a few grants for upkeep, it receives no funding from the city of Sistersville.
The Sistersville Ferry is once again facing closure
The ferry between Sistersville, West Virginia and the unincorporated community of Fly, Ohio, the oldest and only ferry in West Virginia, has been in continuous operation since 1817.
It is one of four ferries left on the Ohio River.
"We have grant sources through the federal ferry discretionary fund that are available for maintenance, repair, and certain upgrades to the ferry," says Eric Peters, Executive Director of the Tyler County Development Authority, and a member of the Save the Ferry committee.
"But the issue we are trying to address is, we do not have any outside sources for wages, insurance and fuel."
If not for the ferry, commuters would have to drive to New Martinsville to get to the Ohio side, a 36-mile round trip.