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River runs through Fredericktown

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By Jill Starkey
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
 

Imagine spending your summers boating, fishing, swimming, or simply relaxing in the sun.

From June to August, many Fredericktown residents find time to do just that.

Walking into Frederick-town is like walking into a western movie. Looking at the old buildings is like peering into history, back to a time when mines were the sole income providers and everything your family needed was at your door-step.

Located about an hour south of Pittsburgh, Fredericktown sits along the curves of the Monongahela River, one of the only rivers in the world that flows north.

A mining town established in 1790, it still manages to capture the spirit of summer and family.

During the July, Fredericktown holds a weekend Riverfest, which includes flea markets, tons of food, and games.

The sense of community is not lost during the long winter months. Every year, Fredericktown holds its Light Up Night, during which family and friends gather to sing carols, talk to Santa, and watch as the lampposts are lit with the first signs of Christmas.

A few hidden gems rest in the solitude of Fredericktown. The Butcher Shop has been in operation since 1976, and its outstanding deli is a big part of the reason people shop there. A staple in the community, the store is easily considered a must-go on the day when heads of houses fill their grocery lists.

"Mainly, it's meat prices, but people also come here because our employees are friendly and the staff is helpful," said Deidre Palmer, grocery manager.

Another reason people visit The Butcher Shop is because of its roasted chicken. It's made with a special ingredient and is a must-have at any big event.

Albert Giles, store owner, estimated that during busy weeks, like the Fourth of July, the store sells about 21,000 tons of chicken. It has been a tradition that every kid who walks into the store can have a free chicken leg or tender. Ask anyone who lives here and the person will tell you to try the chicken.

Although a small town, Fredericktown is no stranger to good food and a great night life. The Riviera Restaurant and Bar houses the best grilled chicken salad in town and is a hotspot for locals when the sun goes down.

In the summer, owner John Shaw has bands and DJs outside on his newly renovated patio bar, due to open Memorial Day weekend. Patrons gather with friends and listen to music, while viewing the slow and steady flow of the Monongahela.

"Every penny I make, I put into this place so the people in this town can have a nice, safe place to come to," Shaw said.

Since 2001, Shaw has been running the Riviera and living next door. He loves every minute of it.

"Every time I sit in my living room and look out the window at the river, I feel like I'm on vacation," he said.

Marinas where people can dock, buy, and rent boats are sprinkled throughout the town. Engles, Sunset, and the Green Cove are the three marinas in the area and provide the boating community with immediate access to awaiting water.

The Fredericktown Ferry, nicknamed Fred, is the last ferry to run across the Mon and one of only two full-time ferries in Pennsylvania. Located in the center of town, Fred is the most historic part of Fredericktown, having been in operation since 1948. It is the quickest route to get across the river.

People can immediately take the three-minute ferry trip instead of the 16 minutes it takes to get to the nearest bridge and back.

Larry Rutherford, the ferry boat pilot, estimated that he escorts about 200 cars per day across the Mon and back.

"Mostly, they are workers to go up to the jail and other people to go to the famous Butcher Shop," he said.

According to Rutherford, "Fred" was owned by three families until the county bought him in the 1970s. Fred is also safe for commuters; the cables and ferry are checked by the U.S. Coast Guard every five years.

A few years ago, the Coast Guard awarded "Fred" a certificate to acknowledge 50 years of no accidents. When asked how he avoids barges and boats, Rutherford laughed and said, "Whoever is bigger goes and the other waits."

Fredericktown, although small, is an excellent stop to make if one is passing by, especially in the summer. Who wouldn't want a day for renting a boat, grabbing some great chicken for lunch, then docking and spending the evening outside at a riverside patio bar•

Jillian Starkey, 22, of Millsboro, is a junior majoring in English with a journalism concentration at California University of Pennsylvania.

 

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