Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Small boats working Big Sandy harbor

This past weekend I went down to Catlettsburg to see what could be seen. Several line haul boats passed through the area, as was recorded here.

Now for some of the smaller boats that worked the area that day.

Here the M/V Chris Arden pulled a barge from the tow of the M/V Titletown USA and took it a mile or so down the river.

Here, the M/V Mountain Girl pushed against the Titletown USA's tow while the Chris Arden did its job.

That was on the Ohio side. On the Kentucky side, these boats at Merdie Boggs stayed home during the short time I was there.

Things I wonder about, but not for long

I was at the Huntington riverfront today when a city fire engine was drawing water from the Ohio River and spraying it high into the air. Given the presence of a van nearby, I assume it was testing or calibrating equipment.

Then I saw a small boat from the Army Corps of Engineers pass by. It wasn't a big boat. It was the kind that had a cabin and can be pulled on a standard size trailer by a pickup. What stood out to me was the fact the boat had a couple of tow knees on the front. I wondered for a minute what the boat pushes, then my mind went on to other things.

Like the small boat that followed it. It was a flat-bottomed boat that was big enough for the three people in it. Only one person at a time stood. On the side in green letters was, "U.S. EPA". I didn't know what a boat that small with three people in it was doing, but I had other things to worry about.

And that summed up my curiosity for the day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wagon Train, Longfellow and my favorite bridge

In 1839, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published a collection of poems under the title "Voices of the Night." But I never knew anything about that collection until the early 1970s when I was watching a "Wagon Train" rerun that ended with Major Adams quoting from part of one of those poems. Its title was "A Psalm of Life", and the part he quoted went like this:

Life is real! Life is earnest!
     And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
     Was not spoken of the soul.

That is all I remember about that particular episode. The poem lay buried in my memory until the early 1980s, when I worked every Sunday afternoon and evening at the newspaper in Huntington WV. Every now and then photographer Tim Grobe would bring the city editor a photo of something he saw that day, and it was my job to say something about it. It could be factual or interesting, preferably both. Sometimes I did puns. Sometimes I tried writing something based on the opening of a famous novel. If that novel was one my executive editor had not read, he would mark up the paper the next day asking "What the ...?"

For the longest time, I hoped Tim would bring us a photo of the East End Bridge, which was under construction at the time I was working Sundays. But he never did. I had written a little verse based on Longfellow's poem that Major Adams had quoted. I so much wanted to use it as a caption in a photo, but I never got the chance.

Maybe everything worked out for the best, as I managed to stick around there another 25 years before they kicked me out in a downsizing.

So here is picture of the bridge of my own taking and the poem.

Bridges are real! Bridges are earnest!
   And uncrossed rivers fit not their plan;
From rust thou art to rust returnest,
   Was not written of concrete spans.

Okay, that's the end of poetry on the Ohio River Blog.

Morning at the marina

Huntington is down to one marina instead of the three it had a few years ago. The one that remains gets longer and longer, and now it's extended almost to the property line of the East End bridge.

I was down there yesterday morning when ...

... the Paula Ruble came down the river with twelve empty barges. I followed it down until it went under the downtown bridge, but this is the one image that stuck with me.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The path oft taken

This isn't the path that got me here, but it is the one that will take me home. Eventually.

Maybe this is where we're supposed to quote from the Robert Frost poem, but not this time.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Photos from Catlettsburg and Ashland

Here are a few of the boats I saw this weekend during stops at Catlettsburg and Ashland KY.

First there was Titletown USA.

A Crounse boat was at Merdie Boggs, but I didn't get its name.

Left to right, the Oliver C. Shearer, the Charlie Melancon and the Bea Black.

Another view of the Oliver C. Shearer.

And just above the lower McGinnis docks at Sheridan, Ohio, the Larry Drummond.

These were a few of the boats I saw. I might post more later.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Stuff, 5/23/2015

I took a mental health trip down to the river today. I was mainly looking for a place to sit in the shade and think about a few things. Too bad I forgot this was a Saturday of a holiday weekend, meaning there was no such thing.

I did see some boats, such as the Titletown USA, Charlie Melancon, Kentucky and a few others. After they are processed, they may appear on here.

Oh, let's go ahead and put up one of the Kentucky. The others probably will come later.

For something completely different, let's talk about personal watercraft. A lot of people call them jet skis, but Jet Ski is a registered trademark, so the clumsy term personal watercraft was coined as a generic replacement.

A few years ago, I got a nice shot of one of those things in the water. Today I saw another one, but fortune did not smile on me twice. I did get this picture, however.

Yes, the guy is wearing a wide-brimmed hat. That's one way of protecting your head from the sun.

Friday, May 22, 2015

USA Today got it right

The newspaper's web site lists some of the best riverside drives in the USA, and on the list is the Ohio River Scenic Byway from Pennsylvania to Illinois, with a particular liking for the Ohio part. I have to agree on this. Route 7 from Gallipolis to Proctorville and Route 52 from Portsmouth to New Richmond are among my favorites. Route 7 from Hannibal to Marietta is pretty good, too. Plus those road segments have access to two ferries, which are always on my to-do list when I'm anywhere near them.

Parts of southern Illinois are nice, too, by the way.

My bucket list includes the Columbia River, particularly along the northern shore. Before I do that one, I'll have to re-read what William Least Heat Moon wrote about it in Blue Highways.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

M/V William R. Barr

Passing Huntington WV recently.

In the news, 5/21/15

Several news reports have noted that states in the Ohio River Valley are prime candidates for wind farms using turbines twice as tall and with longer blades than those now in use. Some of this wind-powered electrical generation could replace coal, it is said.

It's been a while since I looked at the maps, but if I recall correctly, most of the wind potential is in the flat area of Ohio and almost none in the hill country along the Ohio River itself. In West Virginia, about the only place with real potential was in the highest mountains in the state, mainly along the border with Virginia.

Even then, people who lived there to get away from urban areas complained about how the turbines interfered with the view they wanted from their properties, namely one free from the invasion of technology.

Now that all was with towers and turbines of the size in use now. I don't know what people in the Cincinnati-to-Toledo corridor would think of supertall towers with big blades spinning. Plus spinning turbines have been known to generate noise similar to that of airplane propellers (imagine that). If you put long blades on tall towers in flat country, how far will the sound carry?

And we can't forget what happens when birds and bats encounter wind turbines.

It seems there's no way to generate electricity without tradeoffs. If you want electricity, you just have to decide which devil you want to make a deal with.


The Courier & Press of Evansville is running a poll asking readers to choose which of four cities in its area has the best riverfront. Candidates are Evansville, Owensboro, Newburgh and Henderson. As it's been almost 30 years since I was in any of those cities, I am in no position to offer any advice or preferences, although I would like to get back down there next summer.

In the spirit of that poll, if any readers of this blog have any nominations for best riverfront along the entire 981.5 miles of the Ohio River, I would like to hear them.


Meanwhile, a columnist for the Courier & Press asks what it would take to get Evansville's divided city government to make improvements to that city's riverfront.