Crossing Chautauqua Lake

The Bemus Point-Stow Ferry will begin its annual summer operation May 23. The ferry has been providing historic crossings in the narrows of Chautauqua Lake between Bemus Point and Stow. It operates on steel cables powered by a diesel engine. In 1811, Thomas Bemus operated a raft rowed across the narrows, which was replaced in 1815 by a rope and pulley system. In 1887, steel cables were installed and in 1902 a naphtha fired steam engine was added. In 1928, an 80-foot, 60-ton steel hull was built and is still operating. In 1943, Chautauqua County took possession of her as part of the highway system. In October 1982, the Sea Lion Project took possession and has operated her ever since.

You can relax in your vehicle, on foot or bicycle and ride across the lake.

The ferry continues to operate under the direction of the Sea Lion Project by dedicated volunteers weekends and holidays from May to September weather permitting. Other days and special charters are available on request by contacting John and Betty Lou Cheney at 386-3065. For those interested in volunteering or taking the Pilot and Engineer test for vessel operation, it will be given locally the third week of May.