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
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 email@example.com. Those seeking more
information on bass tournaments can contact Don Strimbeck by email
at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 305-599-7585.