Fredericktown Ferry’s Last Voyage Scheduled for Aug. 30
Washington PA Observer Reporter
23 August 2013
by Barbara Miller, Staff Writer
If riding the last remaining cable ferry east of the Mississippi
River holds a prominent place on your bucket list, act quickly.
An era of Monongahela River transportation will draw to a close
next week when “Frederick,” the Fredericktown ferry, will make its
final voyage between Washington and Fayette counties Friday.
Fayette County Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink confirmed the ferry
operators – two full-timers and a part-timer – have received
notice they will be losing their jobs.
“They were served their notices in accordance with county policy
and the union contract,” Zimmerlink said, adding, “There have not
been any discussions between Washington and Fayette counties as to
the future of the Fredericktown ferry. We will be dry-docking it.”
A bridge department employee noted the ferry is closed Sundays,
and due to the lack of an operator, no ferry service is scheduled
The 60-foot Frederick’s hours during the final week will be 6:15
a.m. through 1:45 p.m., and the last day of operation is scheduled
for Friday, when it will float one last time between LaBelle and
the East Bethlehem Township Village of Fredericktown.
Fans of the boat who share information on the Friends of the
Fredericktown Ferry Facebook page have suggested gathering for one
last ride, but posts referred to the layoff notices and the
Fayette County commissioners’ resolution in May to cease
operations Sept. 3.
The Frederick, a 35-ton steel vessel constructed in
1948 by Hillman Barge Co., has become a drain on governmental
coffers with the construction and opening of the Bakewell Bridge
as part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s Mon-Fayette Expressway in
July 2012. The bridge charges a 90-cent toll.
The ferry, which at one time was making close to 250 daily trips,
has more recently been making 90 trips a day. Fayette County
pegged its operating loss at $199,479 last year, and $450,691
since 2009, when the fare for a passenger car was raised to $2.
Pedestrians and bicycles ride for a mere 50 cents, while a trip
for a car and trailer costs $6.50.
Scott Bower, 39, an algebra teacher at Washington High School who
is part owner of Bower Brothers Lounge on Route 88 in
Fredericktown, said Friday, “It’s a shame, but in modern times,
nobody wants to take care of the old things. It seems like
everybody wants to get rid of the thing except for the community
Bower said he would have liked to have seen the ferry promoted as
a tourist attraction rather than a workaday shortcut for those who
work at the State Correctional Institution at Fayette.
“See what it’s like to go on a cruise in Fredericktown. That place
is full of boats down there, recreational boating, since we don’t
have coal mines anymore. It doesn’t make much money, but how many
things does government do that’s not a waste of money?” Bower