Bemus Point-Stow Ferry Re-Launches

From left, Jay Kuntz, Betty Lou Cheney, Martha Anderson and other members of the Bemus Point-Stow Ferry are pictured Friday cutting the ribbon to mark the official return of the iconic ferry. P-J photo by Nikk Holland

STOW — It’s making waves again.

The Bemus Point-Stow Ferry held a dedication ceremony Friday to kick-off its re-launch. In attendance were members of the community, and members of the Bemus Point-Stow Ferry board and various local politicians gave their thoughts about the re-launch.

“My heartfelt thanks goes to the board of directors and all our volunteers,” said Ro Woodard, member of the ferry board. “The numbers of hours that volunteers put in on getting the ferry ready, finding the right contractors to be able to do the extensive work to get it back in the water — it was a phenomenal effort on everybody’s part.”

“The money raised to pay for those repairs came from the citizens of the county and visitors to the county,” Woodard continued. “We can’t say enough thanks to the folks that helped us do that. Hopefully we’ll continue to ride all summer.”

Arden Johnson, Ellery Town Supervisor, was in attendance and shared his thanks to those who made the re-launch possible.

Pictured is the first official voyage of the Bemus Point-Stow ferry after a three-year hiatus. The ferry failed a state inspection in 2018 and was forced to undergo renovations before returning to operation this year. P-J photo by Nikk Holland

“I want to thank Martha, Jay, all the directors and anyone who worked on this project,” Johnson said. “Over the years this ferry has made history many times over. May 28, 2021, history is made again. I want to thank all the people who worked on this project. I know it’s been a few years in the making, but it’s finally done.”

County Executive PJ Wendel was also in attendance and spoke on the significance of the ferry’s return.

“Today is a monumental day when you think about what Chautauqua County represents,” Wendel said. “In my eyes, the Stow Ferry runs all the time. It may have been out of the water a couple years, but it wasn’t due to any lack of effort or lack of care.”

“I just can’t say enough about what this means,” he continued. “To say that this little vessel has taken so many people across. When I first got here in 1977, there was no bridge. If you wanted to get to Midway fast, you took the ferry. The ferry is an important part and a return to our local tourism.”

Wendel then read a proclamation, and within it highlighted that the Bemus Point-Stow Ferry is the longest running cable ferry and one of two ferries operating in the state. He also proclaimed May 28 Bemus Point-Stow Ferry day.

State Sen. George Borrello also spoke at the dedication ceremony.

“We’re not the special people,” Borrello said, referring to the politicians in attendance. “It’s every single one of you, whose names might not even be mentioned in some cases today, that dedicated yourself to making sure that this ferry continued on. That the legacy, that the history did not end when it came out of the water more than two years ago. Thank you very much for all you have done.”

Borrello then gave Jay Kuntz, co-president of the ferry, a certificate of recognition on behalf of the New York State Senate.

Jacqueline Phelps, a representative from Rep. Tom Reed’s office also shared her thanks for the work that was done in re-launching the ferry.

“On behalf of the congressman and our team, thank you for the work you have done to restore this,” Phelps said. “210 seasons down, and at least 210 seasons more because of you. Thank you for making it such a great thing for all of us.”

State Assemblyman Andy Gooddell shared a few words of praise for those who undertook the effort of getting the ferry back up and running.

“The real efforts and real credit goes to all of those who stepped up, help raise money, made arrangements, worked with the state, refurbished it and put it back on the water,” Gooddell said. “You can never recapture something like this if you let it go. Because of the work you did, it will be here for future generations.”

After the flag on the ferry was raised and the ribbon was cut by members of the ferry board, the ferry took its first official trip across the narrows for the first time in three years.


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