BELPRE, Ohio — A long-time local staple of the Ohio River has been put up for sale.
Dave Ruble of Ruble Sternwheelers recently announced he has put the Blennerhassett sternwheeler and the A.J. Woofter passenger barge up for sale.
“I finally decided to let go of them,” he said.
Ruble had been a fixture on the Ohio River for many years ferrying passengers to and from Blennerhassett Island until the company lost the contract to provide that service in 2007. Since that time, he had operated the sternwheeler as a charter business taking passengers on river cruises around the area, but he said he couldn’t make a go of that business.
He finally shut down the business in 2012-2013.
Over the last few years he would occasionally take the boat and barge out to events like the Sternwheel Festival in Marietta.
Ruble had originally built both of them with his father, Everett Ruble Jr.
“They have been a part of our family and history,” he said. “I grew up with this, did it for 36-37 years and you figure you would do it all your life. Sometimes life is not fair.”
Since shutting down the business, Ruble said he had to “get a real job” and now works as a tugboat pilot.
He had made posts on social media about selling the boat and barge.
Ruble has received interest from businesses in Gallipolis, Ohio, and Pomeroy, Ohio, as well as Point Pleasant, W.Va. He said he offered them to Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park, but they did not have the money available to purchase them.
He is asking $100,000 for the sternwheeler and $75,000 for the barge. The sternwheeler was built in 1980 and began its service in 1982.
The barge was built in 1985 with just the lower deck and the upper deck was added in 1994 with the lower deck being enclosed.
During his time on the sternwheeler, he said, he was impressed with how Blennerhassett Island has grown over the years, going from a vacant island that people traveled to just to have a picnic to a fully functioning state park that receives thousands of visitors a year.
“It is still a unique place,” he said.
In addition to interest in the sternwheeler and the barge, many people have posted their memories of their times on the boat.
“Many people have said they were sorry to see it go,” Ruble said. “It really means a lot.”