Monday, September 7, 2009

Whistles and calliopes

What drew the biggest crowd on a weekend morning at the Point Pleasant Tribute to the River festival was when they started up the steam boilers and blew the old boat whistles. Too bad I didn't think to get the names of the boats these whistles came from.

My grandfather lived along the Ohio River in the days of steamboats. I've been told in his later years he sat on his back porch and identified boats by the sounds of their whistles. He died when I was very young, so I have no memory of him. Still, I would have liked to have seen his reaction to hearing these whistles.

One other participant reacted to the whistles. At times, a brown dog howled along.

Later, this girl played a Scott Joplin tune on the calliope.

And a man who looked and sounded like an experienced callipolist played.


The Point Pleasant festival known as Tribute the River had a few sternwheelers in attendance. Here are a few of them in the early morning light.

A view of a couple of sternwheels from the side.

One that interested me was the Juanita.

Back in the early 1980s, I was aboard the Juanita when I did a newspaper article about three working sternwheelers on the Ohio River: the Juanita, the Lady Lois at Catlettsburg KY and the Donald B of Maysville KY. Tom Cook, who owns the Juanita now, gave me a tour of the pilothouse and the engine room, and he explained how the drive train turns the paddlewheel. It was a most excellent few minutes.

More pics of the sternwheelers when I do a longer piece about the race that wrapped up the day.

Tribute to the River in Point Pleasant

Point Pleasant WV put on a good show with its third annual Tribute to the River  this weekend at its riverfront park along the Ohio River. It was so good, there's no way to run photos and text about it in one entry, so I'm spreading them out over several in the next few days. First,  a few overall shots.

Two large flags flew in the morning breeze.

A kevel (I think that's what it's called) secures the Coast Guard tender Osage. The crew of the Osage maintains buoys and navigation lights.

One of the newest towboats on the river (the Mountain State of AEP) and one of the oldest (the J.S. Lewis of Madison Coal and Supply) sit side by side. They were open for public  tours.

The Laura J was one of several sternwheelers there.

A line-tossing contest tested skills in, well, tossing lines.

The Mountain State had to leave Saturday evening. Before it left, the Valvoline of Marathon Petroleum was heading upriver to take its place and to be open for tours on Sunday.

Some communities may think they are river cities because they happen to sit along the Ohio River, but Point Pleasant is a small city that embraces its river and takes advantage of it.

As I said, more later, on the boats, the whistles, a calliope and a sternwheeler race, among other topics.