CHAPTER 17. ROADS AND HIGHWAYS.
WVC 17 - 18 -
ARTICLE 18. FERRIES AND WHARVES.
WVC 17 - 18 - 1
§17-18-1. Discontinuance of ferry by disuse.
Every ferry established and not discontinued before this
code takes effect may continue to be kept. But if any such
ferry, or any ferry that may hereafter be established, be disused
for two years and six months, and any part of such time be after
this code takes effect, it shall, by reason of such disuse, be
ipso facto discontinued, without any judicial or other proceeding
for that purpose.
WVC 17 - 18 - 2
§17-18-2. Establishment of ferry -- Application; notice.
A person desiring to establish a ferry across any
watercourse, whether it be a stream bounding the state or not,
who owns or has contracted for the use of land at the point at
which he wishes to establish the same, may present his
application for the privilege to the county court of the county,
or either of the counties, in or from which he desires to
establish such ferry. But notice that the application has been
presented, or of the intention to present the same, shall be
posted at the front door of the courthouse, and three other
public places in the district, in or from which such ferry is
proposed, three weeks at least before the application is acted
WVC 17 - 18 - 3
§17-18-3. Same -- View of ferry site.
The county court, after notice has been given as aforesaid,
shall appoint two or more viewers, or a committee of their own
body, to view the place and report the advantages and
disadvantages which, in their opinion, will result, as well to
individuals as to the public, from the proposed ferry, and the
facts and circumstances that may be useful to enable the court to
determine whether the ferry ought to be established or not. The
expenses of the proceeding shall be ascertained by the court and
paid by the applicant. When proper, they shall cause notice of
the pendency of such application to be given, in such manner as
they may direct, to the parties interested, or any of them.
WVC 17 - 18 - 4
§17-18-4. Same -- Decision on application; regulations for
Upon such report, and on any other proper evidence, the
court may reject the application, or may, unless the watercourse
at such place be the division line between two counties, grant
leave to establish such ferry, and prescribe, subject to revision
and alteration by the public service commission, the number of
hands and the number and kind of boats to be kept, and the rates
of ferriage for persons and things at the same.
WVC 17 - 18 - 5
§17-18-5. Same -- Ferry where watercourse is county boundary.
If, however, the watercourse be such division line, and the
court be of opinion that the application ought to be granted,
they shall certify such opinion to the county court of the other
county, with the number of hands and the number and kind of
boats, and the rates of ferriage, which they deem proper at the
same, subject to revision and alteration by the public service
commission. The applicant may then apply to the county court of
such other county, after notice therein as prescribed in section
two of this article, and such court, upon the report already
made, and any other proper evidence, may reject the application
or grant the same on the terms prescribed by the other court.
WVC 17 - 18 - 6
§17-18-6. Unauthorized ferry generally.
If any person or corporation shall, without having obtained
the privilege to do so, as provided in the four next preceding
sections, establish, keep or maintain a ferry over any
watercourse, on or over which another ferry has been legally
established, or shall keep a boat or other watercraft with a hand
or hands generally ready to transport or carry any person, horse,
carriage, wagon, cart or other thing, whether for reward or not,
or shall for compensation furnish, hire or loan to another any
boat, skiff or other watercraft, to be used for ferrying any
person or thing over such watercourse, every person so offending
shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof,
shall be fined for each offense not less than twenty-five nor
more than two hundred dollars. And if the owner or occupant of
any land bordering on any such stream shall suffer or permit
another person who is keeping or maintaining any such ferry, or
who is keeping such boat or other watercraft with such hand or
hands with the object or for the purpose aforesaid, to use any
part of the land so owned or occupied by him, as a landing for
such ferry, boat or other watercraft, he shall be guilty of a
misdemeanor, and, on conviction, fined as aforesaid. And the
owner or keeper of every such ferry, not legally established as
aforesaid, and every person who shall keep such boat or
watercraft as aforesaid, and the owner or occupier of any such
land as aforesaid, shall moreover be liable to the owner or
lessee of any ferry legally established over such watercourse for
all damages he may sustain by reason of the unlawful keeping or maintaining of any such ferry, boat or watercraft on any such
watercourse. But no ferry privileges or franchises shall
preclude the erection of bridges over any watercourse, or entitle
the owner of such privileges or franchises to damages in case of
the erection of a bridge or bridges over any watercourse.
WVC 17 - 18 - 7
§17-18-7. Operation of private boats.
The preceding section shall not be construed to prevent a
person from going across any watercourse in his own boat, or
taking therein his own property, or the members of his own
family, or persons in his employment; nor to prevent a merchant
or miller from carrying across a watercourse in his own boat,
without reward therefor, any person bona fide engaged in the
actual transportation to or from his store, mine, or mill, of
grain, coal, timber or other produce.
WVC 17 - 18 - 8
§17-18-8. Forfeiture for unlawful transportation.
In the case of a watercourse over which there is a lawfully
established ferry, if any person, his horse or carriage, be
unlawfully transported for reward over such watercourse, the
person so transporting the same shall forfeit twenty dollars to
the proprietor of such ferry over such watercourse as is nearest
to the place of such transportation.
WVC 17 - 18 - 9
§17-18-9. Ferry wharves and landings -- Generally.
The proprietor of every ferry shall have a convenient wharf
or landing made so as to be firm and dry. He shall also put up
and maintain, at or near each landing of his ferry, a good and
sufficient bell, conveniently hung and provided with a rope or
other fixture for ringing the same; and he shall ferry persons or
things from the point to which, as well as from the point from
which, the ferry is established and receive therefor the rates
established at such ferry.
WVC 17 - 18 - 10
§17-18-10. Same -- Establishment of wharf at public landing;
regulation of and limitations on such wharf.
Any person desiring the privilege of erecting a wharf at or
on any public landing, not a part of a state road, may present a
petition to the county court of such county for such privilege;
but notice of the petition, or of his intention to present the
same, shall be posted at the front door of the county courthouse
and at three public places in the district in which it is
proposed to erect such wharf, three weeks at least before the
petition is acted upon. Such court upon petition and notice may
grant such privilege upon such conditions and limitations, and
fix such rates and charges for wharfage, as it sees fit, subject
to revision and alterations by the public service commission. But
it may at any time afterwards, upon ten days' notice to the owner
of such wharf, or his tenants, revoke such privilege or alter
such conditions or limitations, subject to the regulatory power
of said commission.
WVC 17 - 18 - 11
§17-18-11. Same -- Wharf or pier on land along watercourse;
abatement of wharf obstructing navigation.
Any person owning land upon a watercourse may erect a wharf
on the same, or a pier or bulkhead in such watercourse, opposite
his land, provided the navigation be not obstructed thereby, and
provided such wharf, pier or bulkhead shall not otherwise injure
the rights of any person. But the county court of the county in
which such wharf, pier or bulkhead shall be, after causing ten
days' notice to be given to the owner thereof of its intention to
consider the subject, if it be satisfied that such wharf, pier or
bulkhead obstructs the navigation of the watercourse, or so
encroaches on any public landing as to prevent the free use
thereof, may abate the same.
WVC 17 - 18 - 12
§17-18-12. Duty to have boats and hands at ferry within six
months after order establishing it; cessation of
If any person to whom leave may be granted to establish a
ferry shall not, within six months thereafter, have at such ferry
the number and kind of boats, and the number of hands prescribed
by the order granting such leave, he shall not, after such six
months, have any rights under such order.
WVC 17 - 18 - 13
§17-18-13. Ferry permit or license; certificate, bond, duties and
hours of ferryman; night service; number of boats
The proprietor of every ferry shall keep at the same the
number and kind of boats, and the number of competent hands
prescribed by the order under which such ferry has been or shall
be established, or by the order of the public service commission.
And it shall be unlawful for the proprietor of any ferry, or any
person renting or leasing the same, at any ferry now established,
or which may hereafter be established, on the watercourses of
West Virginia or along the Ohio River, to engage in the business
of ferryman, until he shall have obtained a permit or license
from the county court, city, village or town council, or other
tribunal in lieu thereof. Before such permit or license shall be
granted, the applicant shall present to the authorities vested
with the power to grant the same a certificate of good moral
character, sober and temperate habits, with the requisite
qualifications of a ferryman, together with a bond made payable
to the state of West Virginia, in such penalty as the county
court, city, village or town council, or other tribunal in lieu
thereof, may fix, and with good security to be approved by the
same, conditioned for the faithful performance of all duties
required by law of such ferryman. And he shall promptly obey the
summons given him by the ringing of such ferry bell, and ferry
all persons and property during the hours which the county court,
city, village, or town council, or other tribunal in lieu
thereof, or the public service commission, shall prescribe for the daily ferrying, and he shall also ferry any messenger going
for a physician or surgeon, and ferry any physician or surgeon
going to or returning from professional calls, also mail carriers
and telegraph couriers, at all hours, whenever required to do so,
when the rivers are in a condition to ferry over, for which night
service, after the usual hours prescribed for daily ferrying, he
shall be entitled to double the daily rate of compensation.
WVC 17 - 18 - 14
§17-18-14. Posting rates.
The public service commission may require the proprietor of
a ferry to keep conspicuously posted at each landing a list of
the rates lawfully chargeable at such ferry.
WVC 17 - 18 - 15
§17-18-15. Prepayment of ferriage; unlawful ferriage.
The proprietor of any ferry may require lawful ferriage to
be paid previously to a passage over his ferry. But if there be
demanded at any such ferry more than is lawful, the proprietor
shall forfeit to the party aggrieved so much as is illegally
demanded and a further sum of not less than two nor more than
WVC 17 - 18 - 16
§17-18-16. Prompt passage; ferries from railroad stations.
If at any ferry there be a failure to give any person or
property a passage over the same in a reasonable time, the
proprietor thereof shall forfeit to such person not less than two
nor more than twenty dollars. The owner or lessee of any ferry
across a river between any city, town or village and a railroad
depot or station, whether his ferryboat be propelled by steam or
not, shall, whenever it can reasonably be done, cause such boat
to be at the landing on the side on which such depot or station
is on the arrival of each passenger train on such railroad, or
within five minutes after such arrival, for the accommodation of
passengers arriving on such train who may desire to cross such
river, whether the arrival of such train be in the day or night,
unless there be a bridge across such river at or near such ferry.
He shall also, whenever it can reasonably be done, carry all
persons desiring to take passage on any such train and their
baggage across such river in time to enable them to do so before
the departure of such train. Any owner or lessee of a ferry who
shall fail to comply with the requirements of this section shall
be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof, shall
be fined fifty dollars for every such offense; and any party
injured by such failure shall be entitled to recover therefor
from such owner or lessee all damages sustained thereby.
WVC 17 - 18 - 17
§17-18-17. Ferries across Shenandoah River.
The county court of any county in the state of West
Virginia, through which the Shenandoah River runs, may establish
on and across said river not more than three free ferries; and
such ferries shall be provided with sufficient landings and
boats, and such attendants for the boats, as may be necessary to
accommodate public travel. The court shall pay all expenses of
establishing such ferries, and of providing and maintaining the
necessary boats and attendants therefor, out of the county
WVC 17 - 18 - 18
§17-18-18. Interference by ferries in another state.
Any owner or occupier, or the agent of an owner or occupier,
of a ferry on the shore of another state opposite or within two
miles of a ferry established under the laws of this state across
such river, who shall ferry from the shore of such river within
this state, whether for or without reward, any person, horse,
carriage, cattle, sheep, hogs or other stock, and carry the same
across such river to the shore of such other state, without the
consent of the proprietor of the ferry so established under the
laws of this state, shall, for every such offense, forfeit to
such proprietor ten dollars.
WVC 17 - 18 - 19
§17-18-19. Offenses and penalties; termination of ferry
Any proprietor of a ferry, or any ferryman, who shall
violate any provision of this article, which makes the violation
thereof a crime without specifying the grade or fixing the
penalty, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction
thereof, shall be fined not less than ten nor more than twenty
dollars; and, moreover, if the proprietor of any ferry fail in
any respect to comply with any section of this article, the
county court in which such ferry is established may adjudge and
declare all his privileges in respect to such ferry at an end,
after first causing such proprietor to be summoned to show cause
against such order.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
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