Friday, September 6, 2013

Farewell to Fred. Last day of the Fredericktown ferry.

History of 'Fred' the Ferry

The Fredericktown Ferry is the last of three original ferries to run across the Monongahela River in Washington County. It was the last (or at least one of the last) of the cable-driven ferries east of the Mississippi River. The ferry, affectionately called "Fred," operated under private ownership until 1969, 
when it closed. In 1979, the ferry was re-opened, through the efforts of the community and a Ferry Boat Commission, formed during its period of closure. For the ferry to remain open, both Fayette and Washington counties would contribute 50% of the costs using Liquid Fuel dollars, with the Fayette side in charge of operating and maintaining the ferry. This agreement was later amended in 2003.

"Fred" is located in Fredericktown, Pennsylvania. The ferry boat landing is located near the Bower Brothers Bar. While it is suggested that passengers remain in their cars, the ferry does offer pedestrians and bicyclists the ability to cross the river between Fayette and Washington Counties without a vehicle.

The ferry is large part of history, playing an important part in cross-river traffic for residents and the coal mines, as well as allowing employees of local businesses a faster way across the river.The purpose of the ferry is convenient travel across the Monongahela River.Due to an increase in maintenance and operation costs, the loss of a federally-funded grant, the closing of surrounding mines, as well as the opening of a new bridge spanning the river about five miles away causing a decline in ridership, the ferry has closed, possibly forever, after its last ride on August 28, 1:45pm. The future of the ferry is up in the air; will it be sold for scrap? Face life as part of a museum dedicated to "Fred" and others like it? Or just be dry-docked and left to rust? 

The 'Farewell to Fred' party on August 28, 2013 brought riders from all over the are, wanting one last ride on the ferry before it was taken out of operation. One couple traveled to ride the ferry as part of their anniversary celebrations. Others just came to relive some of their favorite moments and reminisce about ferry memories and discuss what it meant to them. Some expressed sadness that their children and grandchildren would have such a short time to have been able to ride the historic ferry, and other children would never get the chance. Reporters from the Herald-Standard, Observer-Reporter, and Tribune-Review all arrived with photographers to capture the last hurrah of Fred and his loyal fans. 

The local police provided traffic control 

Both the Trib and Herald-Standard reporters

Luzerne Twp. supported the ferry on its last day

Happy Trails To You.....


  1. Such a shame I rode that ferry when I was little and my child and her children also my parents and grandparents 5 Generations. The only reason it was closed is so people use the toll road that's politics. When voting remember our Ferry

  2. My father grew up in Connellsville and I remember riding the ferry when we visited there as a kid. I live in Delaware on the Delmarva peninsula and we have several cable operated ferries still in use. One in Delaware on the Nanticoke river and two in Maryland - one on the Wycomico river and one on the Choptank river. All three still in operation. The one in Delaware was recently upgraded with a new ferry a couple of years ago.

    John Dean II
    Milton, Delaware

  3. My dad would talk about this ferry when he worked the boats out of Pittsburgh in the 70's. In a strange twist of fate, he ended up a hand on the Seaford ferry in the 90's, also a cable pulled ferry and one of the last. So sad I didn't get the chance to see this one in action.
    KL Pittsburgh

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  5. Such a shame. Another piece of history GONE. Truthfully if you want to go to the prison or anywhere else in that part of Fayette county from the Fredericktown, Clarksville, Vestaburg area going all the way to Rt. 43 is the LONG way around. More time, more gas, more frustration.

  6. I can remember the Fred Ferry as a little kid.It was always an exciting experience riding it across the water that Dad Would take us swimming in on weekends. I remember Dad telling me that it was being pulled by steel cables and being fascinated that it held cars, people and even bycicles. At first it was horrifying to a little boy when Dad drove off of the road onto that ferry. I thought we were going to sink in our car. Than to float on the water and not wash down the river. WOW!! When Dad drove off the Ferry onto the other bank I thought "Too cool Dad". You're the best. I would always look behind me to the other side where we got on board. It was so exciting.
    To me it was a time of wonderment.It was growing up and the memory is still fresh in my mind 68 years later. A sweet sorrow. Happy to have lived that experience... sad to have only memories.