Fredericktown ferry faces life as museum

Reprinted from the Observer Reporter
by: Aaron Kendeall
February 21, 2013

Facing an operating budget deeply in the red and falling ridership, the floundering ferryboat in Fredericktown has been struggling to stay afloat. But if the historic vessel does have to be permanently shored, organizers hope it will rise to live again as a museum on the banks of the Monongahela River.


The new plan would permanently dry dock the riverboat, turning it into an outdoor museum. A nearby abandoned gas station would be razed and parking and green areas would be installed. The ramp leading up to the ferry off Water Street would be converted into a river access for boats and kayaks.

Read the full story here.

Sheepskin Trail Community Celebration Planned in Point Marion

You are invited to a gathering of friends, residents, civic leaders, business owners, and government officials to hear the official announcement that the Sheepskin Trail is coming to Point Marion. The celebration will be held Thursday, March 7th at 5:00pm at the Jordan Building. Refreshments will be served

When completed the Sheepskin Trail will be a walking, biking pathway that connects the 48-mile long Mon River Trail system to the south with the Great Allegheny Passage in the north. Since 1996, when Fayette County began steps to design the northern end of the trail, the 34-mile project has faced many challenges. Finally in 2010 the Fayette County Commissioners formed a partnership with the National Road Heritage Corridor (NRHC) to manage the construction of the entire trail and secure funding.

On March 7, Donna Holdorf, executive director of NRHC, will bring exciting news about the 1.4 mile section to be built from the West Virginia state line to the Cheat River Bridge in Point Marion. She and other partners in the Sheepskin Trail project will lay out a timeline for 2013 and explain what must be done next.

Join us prior to the meeting to check out the downtown section of the trail bed. We will gather at the corner of Penn and Railroad Streets at 4:30 for a short walk and photos, before heading to the Jordan Building, 26 Penn Street, to celebrate the future of the Sheepskin Trail in Point Marion.

Questions? Contact Donna at 724-437-9877 or

Post Gazette Article Highlights Mon as River of the Year

From Pittsburgh Post Gazette, February 1, 2013.

“State residents have voted the Monongahela River as Pennsylvania’s 2013 River of the Year.

The Mon, which flows through Greene, Fayette, Washington, Westmoreland and Allegheny counties, was chosen from among six candidates for the River of the Year honor, which is administered by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers. This is the third year the contest has been determined by public online voting.

More than 25,000 ballots were cast, and the Mon eked out a win by securing 8,156 votes. The Schuylkill River of the Philadelphia area came in a close second, with 8,010 votes.

DCNR secretary Richard Allan said in a news release that the online voting “generates local enthusiasm for conservation and recognition of the importance of our waterways.””

Read the full article here.

Check out all of the great reader comments about their love of the Mon!

Mon Wins 2013 “River of the Year”!!!!

Congratulations to the Mon River Towns and thank you to everyone who voted! Check out the press release announcing this honor from the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers (POWR), below:

The Monongahela River, flowing through Green, Fayette, Washington, Westmoreland and Allegheny counties, has been named Pennsylvania’s 2013 River of the Year following public, online voting across the state.

For the third year in a row, public voting determined the selection from among six candidates for River of the Year honors. Among 25,450 ballots cast, the Monongahela River received 8,156 votes.

“Like so many of our great state rivers once sullied by mine drainage and other pollution, the Monongahela is surging back as a vital link to unlimited recreational potential and rich natural and historical resources,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Richard Allan said. “From the West Virginia border to the heart of Pittsburgh, visitors are rediscovering our newest River of the Year and the scores of historic town and villages it showcases.”

Noting strong public participation in the 2013 voting process, Allan said, “This online format continues to generate local enthusiasm for conservation and recognition of the importance of our waterways.”

“Once again the River of the Year designation raises awareness of our rivers and their conservation needs.”

The five other finalists and total votes received were: Schuylkill River (8,010); Lackawanna River (5,286); Kiskiminetas River (2,310); Swatara Creek (1,213); and Juniata River (475).

“All of these contenders were nominated because they are special and important in their own way,” Allan said. “To the local groups who nominated these waterways and rallied support for them – not only for this vote, but through all of their continued activities and advocacy – we offer our heartiest congratulations.”

DCNR and the Pennsylvania Organization for Watersheds and Rivers, or POWR, administer the River of the Year program. Local organizations submit nominations. POWR also helps organize and support local watershed associations, as well as the groups who lead a dozen sojourns on rivers around the state each year.

“The number of votes cast this year in the River of the Year selection process is staggering,” said POWR Executive Director Janie French . “We congratulate the supporters of the Monongahela River, and thank the thousands of Pennsylvanians who voted. We are excited about this opportunity to showcase the successes and challenges facing the Monongahela and all of Pennsylvania’s waterways.”

There are a number of other organizations working in partnership to support conservation and recreation activities along Monongahela River. Among them is the Brownsville Area Redevelopment Corporation, a community development corporation seeking economic development through outdoor recreation, community stewardship and historical preservation. The corporation nominated the Monongahela for this year’s honor and will serve as local organizer for River of the Year activities.

“We are all so excited to receive this honor and are blessed by the support of our friends far and near who recall many happy memories along the Monongahela River,” said Brownsville Area Redevelopment Corporation Treasurer Norma Ryan . “We are looking forward to many celebrations along the river as our communities join together to show our appreciation.”
Before joining the Allegheny River to form the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, the Monongahela River flows north 130 miles across the Allegheny Plateau in southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia. With an extensive lock and dam system still in use today, the river serves as an example of how industrial and recreational uses can coexist side by side.
Having rebounded from the deadly effects of abandoned mine drainage and unchecked pollution, the Monongahela River carves out a 7,340 square-mile watershed containing woodlands, rolling farmland, active and reclaimed coal mines, and towns rich in the history of the Industrial Revolution. Its often shallow, swift currents gave rise to a redesigned steamboat that revolutionized navigation and opened the nation’s heartland to commerce.

The Monongahela River is the western boundary of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative. Led by DCNR, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and others, the initiative seeks to protect the unique character of the Laurel Highlands and recognize its communities as world-class heritage/recreation destinations as well as desirable places to work and live.

Six communities along the Monongahela River are participating in the Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s River Town Program. This program assists distressed communities bordering a navigable river to develop an alternative economic engine, outdoor recreation, to aid in community revitalization.

Several events throughout the year will celebrate the Monongahela River’s designation, including a sojourn offering canoeists, kayakers and other paddlers a chance to experience life on the river and encourage greater understanding of its challenges and potential.
The Monongahela River also will be celebrated with an annual Rivers Month poster issued in June.

Pennsylvania’s River of the Year honors have been presented annually since 1983.