The historic vessel that has been crossing Chautauqua Lake for more than 200 years will be able to make the trip once again Friday.
If all goes to plan, the Bemus Point-Stow Ferry will start making runs across the lake at 4 p.m. Friday. John Cheney, director of vessels for the Sea Lion Project Ltd., which operates the ferry, said the vessel should be legally allowed to operate after a notary authorizes photos of work done to meet state regulations. Cheney said the ferry will run until dark, with the vessel also running Saturday and Sunday starting at 1 p.m.
Last month, the ferry didn't pass its inspection because of state regulations that require all water vessels to have an anchor, an electric horn and automatic sump pumps with an alarm system. Once state officials OK that work has been completed and all state requirements are met, the ferry will operate for the rest of the summer season.
Above, from right, Duane Buchweitz, John Cheney and Betty Lou Cheney work on the Bemus Point-Stow Ferry to prepare it to operate across Chautauqua Lake. The ferry should start operating for the summer on Friday. At left, one of the seven sump pumps and corresponding alarm systems that needed to be installed in the containers used to keep the barge afloat in Chautauqua Lake.
P-J photos by Dennis Phillips
Cheney said he has already booked some appointments for people to use the ferry for events like weddings and birthday parties. Those interested in using the Bemus Point-Stow Ferry should call Cheney at 386-3065.
Cheney would like to thank all those who have contributed to preparing the ferry. He said there is a long list of volunteers who have helped. Some of those people include Martha Anderson; Duane Buchweitz; his wife, Betty Lou; Sam Genco; Roger Miller; Del Stage; John Stow; and John Weise.
''We would like to thank the operators and anyone else who has helped,'' he said. ''I would also like to thank the public for their patience while we have been preparing to run.''
Cheney said he doesn't know how many hours people have volunteered in preparing the ferry to meet state regulations.
''I know it is too many hours for volunteer labor,'' he said. ''I know it is in the best shape it has been in more than 60 years.''
In June 1811, Thomas Bemus was granted a license to operate a ferry from Bemus Point to Stow. The ferry began operations out of necessity in order to get goods from one side of the lake to the other. Now the vessel is an historic asset to the county that draws tourist to the region every year. The ferry has been in near continuous operation since it was first operated.