The fare in 1948 was foot passenger 5 cents and autos 10 cents.
The passengers were extremely angry over the increase.
The story that comes to mind: During high water when the ferry
could not run we rowed the passengers over and back. One afternoon, I rowed 21 mill
workers across during the flood in the "Big Bertha" (a skiff). I got a
5-cent tip from one guy!!! While rowing to Fayette City during flooding, you rowed up-river
quite a distance before you went out into the middle. The current pulled you down to the wharf on the Fayette City side. Going back was harder as you were going against the current, which was pretty swift during flooding. The skiff was wood, 25 ft. long. If you were lucky, one of the passengers would help you row!
Another frightening story was: One night, almost midnight, Frank C. Jacobs, Jr.,
was working on the ferry. One of the big river boats caught the line and pulled the ferry down
the river toward Charleroi. I knew 4 blasts on the horn meant help, so I got in my Metropolitan (small car) auto and raced down to the edge of the wharf and started blowing for all I could. The boat finally realized there was a problem and stopped as the ferry got stuck in the sand bar on the Fayette City side toward Charleroi, quite a distance away. The boat pulled the ferry back to the wharf and after several days, replaced the cable. During the "down" time the passengers were rowed back and forth.
Most of the time, when the line broke, we had to get another one. It took two
men to guide the cable as it dropped from "Big Bertha" to the bottom of the river.
Another person rowed. It required a tremendous effort and really was a
horrendous job. Daddy and Windy, Delbert's Father, your Dad and maybe one
of the ferry operators helped. It was always a time of panic when this happened
as the passengers were disgusted that they couldn't get across the river.
When the line broke Billy was called upon to splice it and Delbert's Dad helped
doing that. No one else knew how to do it. Billy also spliced the big ropes when
they broke or when we got a new one. They were huge!
A man named "Jerry Weiss" stepped off the apron and was drowned after being
run over by the ferry. He stepped over the chain and went to the edge of the
apron then committed suicide.
Delbert Gottke operated the ferry in about 1958-59. Dad (Frank C. Jr.}
trained him and every time someone took the Coast Guard Test, mother
(Gommy) had them give her the questions as good as they could remember
them. She wanted to make sure everyone passed the test.
Two other operators were Tim Oliphant who lived on the first house on
the Fayette City side as you go up the street from the wharf. Another was Buddy Ferris.
The "Dead Line" was the cable line on the right side of the ferry. It was used to keep the ferry running in a straight line. (The right side is the side as you look at the ferry, the south side.) During high water and ice--we not only had to take the line out of the water and wrap it on a huge spool but the other line, also.(The one that went through the housing and motor). The ferry was then moved along side the shoreline north of the wharf and tied to trees to keep it out of the current. When it was safe, it would then be moved back to its running position. Both lines would be replaced at that time. When laying the "Dead Line", it took 1 man to hold the spool to "feed" it. The skiff had to be kept in a straight direction, so it would go straight. Two guys rowed. They also used blocks of wood
with slots to pass along the lines to clean debris off it.
During foggy weather, there was a big "ring" on the wharf on the Fayette City side which passengers would slam against the "brick wall" to let the ferry operator hear that someone was there. It is still there is of this writing.
The ferry operator signaled with the horn during foggy weather before leaving the wharf. If you did
not get an answer from a boat, it was clear to cross. While traveling across the river you prayed and
hoped a boat wasn't coming to run into you. The pilot of the boats probably couldn't see the
kerosene lanterns on the corners of the ferry.
We had a huge spotlight, searchlight, that was used to see if there was a passenger on the Fayette
City side after dark when the ferry was operated from the inside of the little building. After the motor
was placed on the ferry it was no longer used. We had "pry" bars which were used to push the ferry
off from shore if the operator ran the apron up too high onto the wharf while landing.
"Two large cables were strung in parallel across the river. The ferry had a "shiv" wheel that picked
up one cable and pulled the ferry across river. The other cable helped to guide and keep the
course true. On the Allenport side, there was a hanging metal wheel from a car that acted as a bell when struck. This signaled the ferry to come over from Fayette City to pick up a passenger. The ferry was always busy during mill shifts...all day till midnight.
There was a large, built-in capspan used to wind cable. It is still on the property today.
"The motor was a Dodge engine. You went to Fayette City in low and returned to Allenport in
reverse. Due to always being run only in those gears, the 'rear end' was always 'going out'.
Daddy and Windy would start searching for parts and Dad helped, too."
"Thurman Smith: A young 'cowboy type' of kid. was one of the operators. One time a man was
bringing a horse onto the ferry and the horse refused to step onto the apron. Smitty said it was
because horses don't like to step onto metal materials. I have no idea if that is true."
Stories are from my Aunt Jaonne Jacobs Gottke.