SISTERSVILLE - After dealing with many challenges and warnings that its operation might cease, the Sistersville Ferry remains the most notable attraction in the riverfront community.
The oldest ferry in West Virginia, it is the only one that remains in operation in the state. It is one of four still operating on the Ohio River, and the only one along the 277-mile stretch of river on the West Virginia border.
With the closest bridge a 15-minute drive away in New Martinsville, the ferry serves as the quickest way to cross the river from Sistersville to Ohio 7 and Monroe County. Running from April through November, officials said the cost of the ferry ride - $4 one way - is comparable to the cost of gasoline to travel to the nearest bridge.
The Sistersville Ferry, the oldest in West Virginia, is the only one that remains in operation in the state. It is one of four still operating on the Ohio River, and the only one along the 277-mile stretch of river on the West Virginia border. A one-way trip across the river costs $4 today.
Photo by J.W. Johnson Jr.
The city of Sistersville took over the ferry in 1980 and has operated it successfully for three decades.
Despite its long history, the ferry seemed doomed a little more than a year ago. Facing a $15,000 budget deficit, Sistersville City Council and city administrators considered closing the ferry indefinitely.
Within a day after they made that possibility known, however, a Local Economic Development Grant contribution was given to the ferry from the state to allow the ferry to continue operating.
As the future of the ferry became a little more optimistic, the city last year took time to thank two individuals who helped keep the ferry running under the city's management. In September, the city honored John Eckels, who served as the ferry board president for more than 20 years, with a stone marker proclaiming the ferry ramp John Eckels Landing. The city also honored the late Allan Maxwell during the ceremony, dedicating new boat docks in his honor. During the dedication ceremony, city officials were optimistic for the future of the ferry.