Gateway Clipper Could Be Steaming To Morgantown Area

Morgantown Dominion Post
20 August 2015
By Conor Griffith

Some very different boats could steam up the Monongahela River to Morgantown next year.

For Barry Pallay, president of the Upper Monongahela River Association (UMRA), this summer marked a milestone, with the opening of the long-closed Opekiska and Hildebrand locks and extended operating hours for the Morgantown Lock.

This was accomplished by collecting $36,000 in contributed funds to have the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers keep all three locks open for 16 days during the summer.

As of Wednesday, 14 of those days have passed. In that time there were 193 lock openings on the river, allowing 641 vessels to pass through.

Pallay said opening the locks was chapter one of UMRA’s goal. Chapter two is upping commerce on the river. He wants to make this happen by organizing large-scale bass tournaments next year, and having the Pittsburgh-based Gateway Clipper Fleet visit the upper Mon River for a few days.

UMRA is working with the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Morgantown Convention and Visitors Bureau to make this happen. The project is in its infancy, but Pallay said he would like the riverboats to provide tours of the river as far as Fairmont and possibly dinner cruises.

“We have a great new ball team, and this would be a wonder amenity to add to it,” Pallay said. “Currently, we’re looking into the feasibility and practicality of getting a boat down here.”

The Corps of Engineers allocates lock staffing based on how many vessels need to pass through. Reviving river commerce could mean the Corps keeps the locks open permanently.

Jack Thompson, director of development for the chamber, said having Gateway Clippers come to Mon County for a few days would be a huge boon.

“It would be a great highlight of local culture — it would be great if we could get some local musicians onboard,” he said. “We would want to do this when the students are in town.”

Thompson said the cost of bringing a steamboat upriver, one of the biggest challenges, is still being worked out.

The Opekiska and Hildebrand locks will be open 7 a.m.- 4 p.m. Sept. 5-6. These are the last days they will be open this year. A bass tournament is scheduled during this time. The Morgantown locks are open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. daily.

Pallay said public input regarding future projects is appreciated. Pallay can be reached at Those seeking more information on bass tournaments can contact Don Strimbeck by email at or by phone at 305-599-7585.