Ferry Repairs Delay Festival

Washington PA Observer Reporter
26 July 2012

After twice postponing the date of the Fredericktown Ferry Boat Festival, the star attraction may soon be ready for its close-up, come hell or high water.

The festival celebrating Fredericktown’s unique attraction was held in June for the past three years, but the “Frederick” went into dry dock June 9 for repairs as part of a five-year maintenance schedule.

Although the vessel’s time in dry dock was expected to be only a few weeks, festival organizer John Bower, co-owner of the Bower Brothers Lounge on Route 88 in the East Bethlehem Township village, thought he gave himself plenty of leeway by postponing the festival until July 28.

The U.S. Coast Guard has scheduled an inspection for Thursday morning. Even though the ferry is expected to pass the inspection, two days’ lead time wasn’t ample to allow Bower to put everything in place for Saturday.

So he has chosen Sept. 1, during Labor Day weekend, as the new date, with times to be announced.

“We’ll see what happens,” Bower said Wednesday. “I cannot do what I have to do in a just a few days. If it’s not running Sept. 1, we’re going to do a 'save our ferry boat’ festival.” About 600 people turned out for the festival last year, Bower estimated.

The 60-foot “Frederick” came out of dry-dock in Dunlevy at Campbell Transportation Co.’s Marine Maintenance Division July 17 and has been moored on the Fayette County side of the Monongahela River.

Taxpayers in Washington and Fayette counties are splitting the $73,000 contract, said Lisa Cessna, director of the Washington County Planning Commission.

Michael J. Monahan, president of Campbell Transportation, said crews put new watertight hatches on all of the ferry’s buoy tanks and performed general welding repairs and ultrasonic gauging of the hull.

“Tomorrow, I fully expect she’ll be back in service,” said Pittsburgh Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Todd Talasky Wednesday. “It had to get a new pump, that was all. I talked to the operator today. He said he was ready to roll.”

The 35-ton steel watercraft, constructed in 1948 by Hillman Barge Co., carries about 500 vehicles a day between Fredericktown, a former coal town, and LaBelle. It is believed to be the last remaining cable ferry east of the Mississippi River.