No bids received for former Fredericktown ferry

  • By Barbara Miller October 17, 2013
Larry Rutherford of LaBelle prepares to welcome a passenger aboard the Fredericktown ferry on the Fredericktown side of the Monongahela River in this 2010 photo. - Observer-Reporter Order a Print

At what was supposed to be a bid opening Thursday afternoon in Uniontown, not one offer was received for the former Fredericktown ferry, the boat that made its last trip across the Monongahela River in late August.

The engine was removed from the 65-year-old vessel, which was one of the last cable ferries east of the Mississippi River, to prevent oil or fuel leaks. How to proceed from this point will be up to the Fayette County commissioners. Meanwhile, it appears East Bethlehem Township officials gave up on the idea of preserving the 35-ton ferry, a despite photo of it plying the river between Fredericktown, Washington County and LaBelle, Fayette County, still gracing the township’s website.

“We just dropped the idea,” said Paul Battaglini, president of the township’s five-member board of commissioners. He said barge companies that were in the area for the implosion of the Masontown Bridge Sept. 28 were willing to move the boat to township property at a cost of $50,000, but the window of opportunity closed once the bridge removal was complete. Battaglini said the township hoped to split the cost of the ferry placement between the two counties.

Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi said, “We weren’t aware of anything like that. This is the first I’ve heard of it, actually.”

Nor was Maggi aware of Thursday’s bid opening, which was advertised in the Uniontown newspaper and on the Fayette County website.

“I imagine it’s going to be up for scrap now,” Battaglini said. “Another piece of history goes down the river, down the tube, basically. We decided to quit our endeavors. Honestly, now that the shock of them closing it (has passed), no one seems to have any kind of interest in it, no interest in us saving it or doing anything with it anyway.”

The completion of a bridge as part of the Mon-Fayette Expressway spelled doom for the money-losing red and white ferryboat Frederick, which ferried the vehicles of coal miners and, later, corrections officers who worked at the State Correctional Institution at Fayette.

“It’s just sitting there idle,” said Amy Revak, Fayette County chief clerk. “It’s really just kind of a shell.”

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.


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