SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - Annamoriah Ferry Cross The River


The Little Kanawha had a small dam to maintain a water level
to run the Annamoriah ferry, Oren Parks family once lived in house on bank, known as the Downs place (Photo compliments of Terry Harris)

By Bob Weaver 2006

Most residents of Calhoun will not recall a time when they had to cross two ferries down Route 5 to just get out of the county, nor will they recall the rough, unpaved condition of the road.

It certainly was not a main highway to Parkersburg.

Both the Annamoriah and Creston ferries across the Little Kanawha were primitive, generally using a man-powered push-pole or pull-line for navigation. The small ferries could transport cars or small trucks, usually one or two at a time. There was a fee for passage.

The Creston ferry, during part of its history, used a gasoline motor, actually an old Model-T Ford engine.

Former Governor Cecil Underwood told a wonderful tale about being trapped between the two ferries in the late forties, going to Grantsville to court his future wife Hovah Hall.

Several years later when Underwood was the state's youngest governor, he was instrumental in replacing the ferries and building the modern bridges standing today.

He likely remembered that long night, stuck in the Calhoun woods.

Hur Herald columnist Teresa Starcher, said her dad Bill Stutler operated the Annamoriah ferry for several years before settling up Little Creek.

The Merrill family, two generations, namely William and Ed, were long-time operators of the Creston Ferry, according to Alvin Engelke.

Former Grantsville Mayor and former Annamoriah resident Neil Blankenship said his dad, Forrest Blankenship, was a ferry-master at Annamoriah.

Gene Rader of Annamoriah said in the 1930s or very early 40s, a bread truck was loaded on the ferry during high water and the lines broke. "The ferry and the truck went way down the river. My dad and some others managed to get hold of it, getting the bread truck back without damage," he said.

He said there was a low line and a high line stretched across the river, to which the ferry was attached. Which line used depended on the water level of the river.

"The ferry could be pulled by hand using a pulley system, but in later years they used a small johnboat with a five-horse motor," said Blankenship.

"I mostly remember all the people fishing along the mud banks beside the ferry," he concluded.

Creston ferry (Clipping courtesy of Bill Gherke)

Annamoriah ferry (Clipping courtesy of Bill Gherke)

"Another hazzard of the Creston Ferry was around milking time. On the Elizabeth side of the landing, the road went behind a barn and if the farmer was cleaning out the barn (1953), you could get the side of your car "dirty," recalls JoAnne Pyles.

A well-worn story recalls Wig Smith operating the Annamoriah ferry, when a new State Road Commission truck driver inquired whether or not the ferry could transport the big truck.

Wig said sure, and the driver drove the truck on the ferry tipping one end up, sinking the truck into the river.

Other Creston-Annamoriah ferry masters recalled are, Oral Arthur, Allan Vandall, Herb Kellar and Howard, Herb and Harry Rader.

During the 1800s Grantsville had a low-water crossing point, but a ferry was in operation by 1900.

The well-known Hardman family operated the ferry. In 1910 a free-floating gasoline boat from Glenville ran into the operation, heavily damaging it.

Shortly after that event there was a push to build the first bridge across the river. (See Herald stories about the magnificent bridge)