Thursday, June 11, 2009

Return of the passenger boat

My former employer had an article in today's newspaper about passenger boats stopping here in Huntington WV and other cities along the Ohio River this summer. Unlike the Delta Queen and the overnight boats that ran the river until this year, this boat will not house people on board. It will carry them from city to city, and they will stay in a different hotel each night.

This might work. The online article was basically a news release with a little background added. I'm not going to second-guess the reporting or writing. I do hope some more information will come later as the time gets closer to when the boat will be in Huntington.

For one, I would like to know how many people will be on the boat as it goes up and down the river. One reason the Delta Queen and other boats aren't running this year is that people have given up river cruises in favor of ocean cruises. Given a choice of cruising to Pittsburgh or Cincinnati (no offense), Alaska or the Caribbean, few people would choose a river cruise, particularly at the prices that were being charged.

Here's hoping the new venture on the river will be a success. Someday when the kids are grown, maybe I could try it on my own dime. If this venture survives.

East End bridge in B&W ... again

My favorite bridge over the Ohio River is Huntington's East End bridge. Until a year or two ago, its proper name was the East Huntington Bridge, although some locals refer to it as the East End bridge or the 31st Street bridge. But someone had to rename it the Frank 'Gunner' Gatski Memorial Bridge for a Hall of Fame football player who played his college ball here but who has been forgotten by most of the community because that was so long ago.

The East End bridge was the first cable stay bridge over the Ohio. It's great to photograph at day or night or in rain or fog. Its color changes as the sun moves across the sky. And it's wonderful in black and white, too. About 10 years ago, I got to climb to the top of the bridge.

This is one of my favorite pictures of the East End Bridge.

Turkey vultures

This photo was not taken along the Ohio River. It was taken on a hillside, a few ridges  back from the river.

However, this photo was taken along the river. At Fortification Hill overlooking Gallipolis OH, in fact.

Turkey vultures are a common sight along the Ohio, so I'll say a few words about them. Most people think they are disgusting creatures, but they merely do what God or nature (depending on your belief system) needs them to do. They're shy around humans, although where I live they're losing some of that shyness.

That could be because black vultures are said to be moving into our part of the Ohio Valley. Black vultures are more aggressive, and I fear they may be pushing turkey vultures out of their natural habitat. If that is the case, it would be a shame. Some people don't understand my fascination with seeing turkey vultures soar overhead, and I don't want to lose that sight.

Demand for inland waterways workers

About a month ago, I was driving past the inland waterways academy at Marshall Community and Technical College and began wondering how enrollment and placement were going considering the slowdown of waterborne freight traffic in this area. There are barges tied up along the river for extended times, and there were places where boats, too, were all tied up with no place to go.

I was going to suggest a news article for my former employer on the topic, but then management downsized me, so I didn't pursue the topic with them, you know? The paper had done several articles in recent years on the academy and how it trains people to work on towboats and such. But it was something most newsroom managers seldom if ever thought about.

According to an article on the Waterways Journal Web site, there's still a demand. The article even mentions the academy here in Huntington WV. To read the part the Waterways Journal put on line, click here.