Ferguson honored at canoe event

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 7, 2004

CHESAPEAKE - South Point resident Art Ferguson Jr.'s name has long been synonymous with the Symmes Creek waterway he loves so much.

Now it is official.

More than 30 canoeists and kayakers gathered at the Chesapeake boat ramp Saturday for the seventh annual Symmes Creek Canoe Caper. Before hitting the water, the Symmes Creek Restoration Committee presented co-founder Ferguson with a certificate dedicating its ongoing project to establish a canoe trail on the creek as the Arthur S. Ferguson Jr. Canoe Trail.

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The 77-year-old Ferguson said he was pleased with the honor but never dreamed of anything like it when he and a few others started the restoration committee in 1977 to promote the natural beauty of Symmes Creek.

"I have done this, not to be recognized, but just because I love canoeing," he said. "Symmes Creek is the one creek in the county that has miles and miles of water in which to develop canoe trails. For 27 years, the Symmes Creek Restoration Committee has been working to help the creek's environment."

Symmes Creek is the only navigable, natural stream that goes through all of Lawrence County - about 50 miles. Within the next two years, the committee is hoping to establish canoe trail and frequent camping/put in points along the nearly 100 mile creek that spans three counties.

Though the project remains a work-in-progress, it now has a name. And one that could not be more fitting, said Grayson Thornton, chairman of the restoration committee. No one is more deserving that Ferguson for all that he has done to promote and preserve the creek, Thornton said.

"Art has been one of the best friends Lawrence County has ever had. In a number of ways," Thornton said. "… Art has been with the committee through thick and thin, for which we are thankful."

Following the ceremony, boaters paddled up the lower two miles of Symmes for an on-water litter clean-up. Paddlers then hit the mighty Ohio River for a 5-mile cruise down to the Burlington Riverfront Park, where a picnic lunch by the women of the Windsor Grange awaited.

For health concerns, Ferguson was unable to actually take the boat trip - the first time he ever missed one of the events.

"I wasn't able to get on the water, but my heart was there," he said.

The committee also conducted a raffle drawing that raised $500 for the group during ceremonies at the boat ramp.

However, Thornton said they still need all the community support they can get. Anyone interested in making a donation or allowing for a canoe point on their property along Symmes Creek can call Thornton at 643-0522.

A fund for the Symmes Creek Restoration Committee has been established at Lawrence Federal Savings Banks in Ironton, Proctorville and South Point.