Thursday, September 30, 2010

From one tributary to another

Fanshell mussels have become rare in the Kanawha River, so wildlife biologists recently transplanted about 200 of them from the Licking River in Kentucky to the Kanawha. The Charleston Gazette has the story.

Rising Sun casino sold

This is two or three weeks old. I'm sorry, but ... oh, never mind. This has not been a good month for me keeping up with the news. I'll try to do better.

The casino at Rising Sun, Ind., which I mentioned a while back , has been sold to a Las Vegas-based company. The casino itself is on a boat in the Ohio River, but it has other operations on shore, too.

Overnight cruising returns to the Ohio River in 2012

The Delta Queen may be docked, the American Queen's future is uncertain, and the Mississippi Queen ...

American Cruise Lines has announced it will return overnight cruising to the Mississippi River system, including the Ohio River, in 2012.

According to the schedule in the news release, the new boat will make trips up the Ohio similar to the fall foliage cruises of the Delta Queen. It will make stops at Paducah, Cave In Rock, Henderson, Mount Vernon, Louisville, Madison, Cincinnati, Maysville, Portsmouth, Gallipolis, Point Pleasant, Marietta and Wheeling. I noticed that Huntington is not on the list, but that's not surprising. Huntington tourism officials were indifferent to the Delta Queen and its sister boats, and I hear the riverfront there has silted in to the point larger boats cannot dock there until someone does some dredging.

It's no wonder the boat will stop at Point Pleasant. The people there do the river right.

I didn't see a name for the new boat on the news release. It seems that for now, American Cruise Lines is calling it the Mississippi Riverboat.

This was announced last week, but I missed it somehow. I'll try to get more on this tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This one I have to see

The states of Indiana and Kentucky need to replace the bridge over the Ohio River at Madison, Ind. The plan was to demolish the old bridge, rehabilitate the piers and build a new one. That would take the river crossing out of service for a year, to be replaced with temporary ferry service.

But a new plan has a new bridge to be built beside the old one, on temporary supports. The existing piers would be rehabilitated while the bridge remains open. Then the old bridge would be removed and the new bridge slid into place on the existing piers. That would cut the outage time to 10 days.

Details are here.

That is something I want to see.

Sunset fun (revised)


When Adam got off the school bus today, I made the mistake of telling him the AEP towboat Buckeye State was headed our way. Because he has not seen this boat from a bridge, we had to go out and wait for it to get to our favorite on-bridge photo spot. He brought his camera so he could get some stills and some video, and I brought mine, naturally.

Before we left, I took a key on a dog tag chain and hung it from the car's rear view mirror. I used it to talk to him about Isaac Newton's first two laws of motion. As we went around curves, the key appeared to move one way or the other. I told him the key was moving in a straight line and it was we who were going back and forth. I used other examples, such as water in a tank truck or air flapping under the tarp on a dump truck to describe the principles further.

Then I explained how a towboat propeller makes use of the third law. As the propeller pushes water backward, an equal and opposite reaction pushes the boat forward. He said he thinks Newton was a swell guy. A few years ago, I had to tell him bedtime stories to tell him about Newton for a week.

Anyway, we saw the Buckeye State first at Kenova, W.Va., at Virginia Point Park.

After that, we went down to Catlettsburg, Ky., to see what we could see. Then we headed for the 6th Street bridge in downtown Huntington, W.Va. By the time we got up on the bridge, the Buckeye State was going  under the West 17th Street bridge, about three miles downstream. As it happened, at that time of day and this time of year, we were close to staring into the setting sun, so we got the boat in silhouette, along with a smaller boat whose name we did not get.

As the Buckeye State drew closer, we got into position to shoot. It's an interesting feeling and an interesting sound to be up on the bridge and see the front of the barges emerge. This time, Adam saw the long shadow of the flag at the front of the tow before I saw the barges. And this is how the boat and its 15 coal loads looked.

After the boat cleared the bridge and we got our photos, we went to a spot on the Ohio side to snap a few more. Here's Adam on the Ohio River bank checking the depth of some soft mud at water's edge.

It's hard to believe the kid turns 11 later this month. It's harder to believe he's more like his dad every day. Poor kid.

For the record, he's wearing the AEP ballcap he was given after he steered the mv. Hoosier State following its christening back in May.

And here's the Buckeye State going under the East End bridge.

Earlier in the day, I saw two other boats passing Huntngton -- the SuperAmerica and the Bruce Darst. I'll try to post some of those photos here in the next day or two.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A friend?

Today I saw a boat heading down the Ohio River, so I went up on the 6th Street bridge at downtown Huntington, W.Va., to get a few photos. I was glad to see it was the Steven J. Mason of Ingram Barge. That's a favorite of Adam and mine, as it's a former turtleneck boat that was rebuilt as a more conventional one. Plus we know a guy who works on it.

Here it is coming down the Ohio ...

And as it's about to go under the bridge ...

At the last second, I notice a guy outside the pilothouse waving at me. It might have been Adam's friend Mark, a mate on the boat.

With this resolution, it's hard to tell. We'll have to find out in a few days.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's fall, y'all (with a d'oh)

Fall arrived today, several days after the autumnal equinox. Today felt like fall like yesterday felt like summer, minus the humidity. Yesterday was the last of several consecutive days of 90-degree-plus weather with clear skies. Today it was in the 60s with no blue anywhere up above -- only a few layers of gray and white. The plants on the hills showed their fall colors. And on the Ohio River, there's not a pleasure boat in sight. Not even a boat with people fishing. And the parking lots at the boat ramps I visited were deserted.

On the way up the Ohio sidse of the river to pick up my boys from grandma's house, I stopped at the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam (formerly known as the Gallipolis Locks and Dam). Maybe a half dozen people were fishing, and all were bundled up against the light rain. Out on the foot of one of the dam piers, I saw a heron.

Yeah, it's fall, and it makes me sad. I had a great summer. Maybe fall will be good, too. We'll see.

D'OH: Today I remembered that I did see at least one pleasure craft in the water, maybe two. They would have been right below the R.C. Byrd dam, sitting where the turbulence of water coming over the rollers starts to dissipate. Fishing, of course.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lego time

River-related news has been kind of slow here around Mile 308 lately. I've been trying to work on a long-term project, but it's going a lot slower than I expected.

Meanwhile, Adam has been in school for about five weeks now. I miss him when I'm out working on something and I see a boat or a bridge or something along the river that needs to be photographed.

Lately he's taken a lot of Lego pieces and has built a couple of towboats and a drydock. Sometimes the boats push barges, and he puts wing wires on them. Last night or the night before, he built a pleasure craft to travel alongside a big boat.

When Adam was in kindergarten, he wanted to drive a school bus. Now he wants to own a marine towing company. You never know, do you?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Three photos from the 1980s

Taking a time out from 2010, here are three Ohio River photos from the 1980s. I can't say for sure when I took them. I've even forgotten some of the critical information, especially the second one. But here they are anyway. If anyone has reliable information on these photos they would like to share, I'd be more than happy to read it.

(Reminder: All photos are copyrighted by me, Jim Ross, and may not be used without my permission.)

Here's the Delta Queen approaching Gallipolis, Ohio, from downriver.

And here is a former towboat used as a restaurant on the Ironton, Ohio, riverfront in the 1980s.

I can't remember its name as a working boat. I want to think it had been owned by G & C Towing, but don't hold me to that. The restaurant was in business for a while, but as many restaurants do, it eventually went out of business. I have no idea what happened to the boat.

And here is a boat close to my heart.

One of my first river memories is seeing the Kathy R as a sternwheeler, and again later as a propeller-driver boat. Here is the boat in its later years as the C.T. Jones, and I think this was taken at the Greenup Locks and Dam. I took as many photos of the C.T. Jones as I could in the 1980s. The last I heard, the boat may have burned, with its hull being salvaged and used as a barge, but again, please don't hold me to that.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Good news for the W.P. Snyder Jr.

The W.P. Snyder Jr. is back home. The last remaining sternwheel towboat arrived at Marietta, Ohio,a  few days ago. We went down to Catlettsburg, Ky., last week when we heard it was to leave its repair dock at 5:30 p.m. It was nowhere in sight, so we went up the river in the hopes it had left early. It hadn't. In fact, it didn't leave the dock until around 9 that night, according to a local TV station.

Some good news in the form of a grant for further repair work was waiting for the Snyder when it got to Marietta. For more, check out this story in the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A couple of pictures

Here are a couple of things we saw this evening on our way back home after Adam spent some time with his newest cousin, born just 12 days ago. He's fascinated with her, as she is the first newborn he's ever gotten to spend much time with, and she seems to respond to his attention.

First, people fishing on the Ohio side of the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam on the Ohio River. We got several photos here. I might post more later.

And here, a turtleneck towboat (one with a telescoping, or retractable) pilothouse passing one of our favorite places to skip rocks and get photos. It's the Sam M. Fleming of Ingram Barge.

Friday, September 17, 2010


No wonder it was so crowded aboard the LST-325 when the boys and I went to see it in Marietta, Ohio, last weekend.

This from the Evansville Courier & Press :

 — LST 325 is enroute home following a monthlong trip up the Ohio River that drew 41,500 visitors in three cities.

That's slightly less than the population of the city that I live near, Huntington, W.Va., the sixth largest city along the Ohio.

That 45,000 doesn't count -- can't count -- the people who lined the river bank watching and watching for the boat on its voyage up and down the river.

Do I miss these folks? Not really.

A comment by a Facebook friend today got me thinking about nutty calls I used to field when I worked for the Huntington, W.Va., newspaper. There was the woman who claimed Hillary Clinton had cleaned out her bank account while Bill was in town campaigning, and there was the guy who demanded a correction to a cops brief because, he said, his brother hit that other guy with a tire iron, not a whiskey bottle.

Then there was the woman all agitated, wanting us to do a story about how the Army Corps of Engineers was about to dredge the island at the mouth of the Big Sandy River. She said the island had a lot of junk cars on it, but it needed to be saved because it was the home of the last remaining colony of North American penguins. At times like that you don't argue that there is no island at the mouth of the Big Sandy. You thank them and hang up.

And wonder who will come along next to top that one.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Enjoying the moment

For the moment, let's forget about the name of this boat and where it's going and all that. I saw this boat going up the Ohio River today past Huntington, W.Va., upbound. By the time I had finished some banking business, it was chugging along pretty good. This thing was going up the river faster than some boats come down the river. As an old acquaintance in the McDermott, Ohio, area might say, there's no moss growing on this boat's propellers.

I was able to get this shot from the West Virginia side in the Lesage or Cox Landing area shortly before noon.

This isn't one of my best towboat/river shots, but there are some elements that I like. There are the leaves that indicate the seasonal change that is imminent. I like how the waves cut through the glassy surface. I like the reflection of the boat in the water, jumbled though it may be by the barges' wake. I like the foreground and the background. And I like the light, even if it was shot an hour or two before solar noon. And taking this picture felt good too, including the minute or so I balanced myself on a guardrail post along a busy state highway where speed limit signs are interpreted as minimums, not maximums.

Last year the hills here around Mile 280 to Mile 315 were rich with gold leaves. This year, who knows? We have a few weeks of green before hills start turning, but when they start, the color can come and go quickly. I'll try to be ready. I've got a few spots picked out for some photo expeditions along what I call the Ohio River Road.

Not lost, but not found, either

We went looking for the Snyder; didn't see it. Didn't think to look for the LST-325 because we thought it was farther upstream than it was, so we didn't see it, either.

C'est la vie, or something like that.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Homeward bound... tomorrow (updated)

Local news reports say the W.P. Snyder Jr. is scheduled to leave the repair dock at South Point, Ohio, at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow for its trip home to Marietta. I'll try to verify that, and I'll try to get some pictures, if possible.

UPDATE: I forgot that the LST-325 is supposed to leave Marietta this morning heading down the Ohio River. It would be nice to be at the spot where the two vessels meet.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Aboard the LST-325

We made it to Marietta today to tour the LST-325 -- Adam (age 10), Joey (16) and me. We arrived around 11 a.m., just in time to catch the horde of people wanting to get on the ship.

For those who came in late, LST-325 is a troop and tank carrier that participated in the D-Day invasion in 1944. It's now based in Evansville, Ind. It's on a three-city swing in the upper Ohio River, having stopped already in Wheeling and Pittsburgh.

We enjoyed the ship itself and learned a lot. If we had a problem, it was that the ship is just too popular. It was crowded with visitors. Getting a good photo of the ship was not easy, as just about everywhere you looked was at least one person in the way of what you want to shoot. Because some of the passageways were so narrow, at times we felt pushed along like a leaf in a fast-moving stream.

I didn't mean to whine or sound like I'm complaining. I just didn't expect so many people to turn out to see this bit of floating history. It was that popular. Really. It was like people standing in line for a big Hollywood blockbuster.

Adam suggests that we tour the ship again if we ever make it Evansville.

So here are a few photos that we did get.

First, a view from the rear of the tank deck.

Here is one of the guns on the main deck.

Finally, these are bunks in the berthing compartment.

We'll probably try to catch it on its return trip down the Ohio soon.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Here's my problem. I really want to take the boys up to Marietta, Ohio, tomorrow so we can tour the World War II troop ship LST-325. The down side is that the city's Sternwheel Festival is going on. I'm not crazy about going to festivals in cities that I'm not familiar with. There's the parking, vendors, crowds, finding your way around, traffic, noise and such. I just want to go see the ship and leave.

Perhaps if we get there early enough, we can avoid a lot of the other stuff.

We'll see.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ohio River + sewage = nitrous oxide

When I've thought of pollution in the Ohio River in the past, I'd never thought that bacteria interacting with sewage (or wastewater, as it's now called) produce nitrous oxide gas. But a report just out in Chemical & Engineering News has me thinking about it. Not much, but some.

It seems that new research shows that the river produces more nitrous oxide than previously thought. That's important because nitrous oxide is considered a greenhouse gas, For now, we'll put aside questions of whether there is such a thing as man-made global warming or climate change or whatever. That scientific question too quickly deteriorates into a political one, and it's one that I don't want to get involved with on this blog.

The article linked above has a link to another article citing nitrous oxide emissions as the largest single threat to the earth's ozone layer.

Now there's more to think about.

Yes, this is the same nitrous oxide that is used in cars to boost engine output, and it is used as an anesthetic. It also has some, uh, recreational uses. I know this firsthand. Back in 12th grade chemistry, we made some for a class assignment. But a couple of my buddies and I apparently made too much or got too close. When we left chemistry and went to English, we had a bit of a buzz and were pretty useless.

Anyway, the Ohio River is probably pretty insignificant as a nitrous oxide producer on a global scale, but I wouldn't be surprised if findings like this are used to put more pressure on communities to improve their sewage treatment systems, especially when it comes to separating sanitary and stormwater sewers.

Or maybe not. You never know.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

mv. Jincy et al

I went down to the river today to get away from everything and try to figure a few things out. Too bad that happened to be the day when four towboats came down the river, one after the other. There was the Andi Boyd, then the Darrell L, then the Dixie Leader and finally the Jincy.

I figured I'd go up on the bridge to get a few photos of the Jincy. I brought Adam's camera with me and had to use it, as the battery in mine was almost dead. Adam's battery was pretty weak, too, but I got two dozen pictures out of it, including this one.


A good time in Point Pleasant, part 2

Okay, I spent Sunday doing nothing and Monday on the road waiting to see if I needed to take my mother-in-law to Columbus for the imminent birth of her eighth grandchild (no trip, and no word yet). So here, at last, are more photos from the river festival at Point Pleasant, W.Va., over the weekend.

These guys on the Marathon towboat Louisville volunteered to pose for a photo. I didn't get their names.

These folks were touring the Louisville. I shot this from the J.S. Lewis, which was tied up next to the Louisville. I like how the one boy saw me raise my camera and immediately go into a pose.

These folks seemed to enjoy the tour, too.

The Corps of Engineers displayed some of their diving equipment.

Here's the Silver Memorial Bridge.

Railroad bridges look so strong and study, but when you see them from below, they look different.

The Michael J. Grainger leaves the Kanawha River and heads down the Ohio River with 15 coal loads.

And folks from the Point Pleasant River Museum (a great place) let folks know how whistles from the old steamboats sounded.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A good time in Point Pleasant

I got back from the National Maritime Days Celebration at Point Pleasant, W.Va., where the 2009 towboat Mountain State and the 1931 towboat J.S. Lewis were open for tours. Adam was with me, of course.

The best part was meeting some people who I have come to know through this blog and my Flickr account. We met habitual riverboat photographer Fran Mullen of Crown City, Ohio, and his brother, Harold Henry. We met C.R. Neale, a 20-something pilot who doubles as a pretty good photographer, especially of night shots. And we saw Joe Kincaid, a pilot on the AEP towboat Hoosier State, and his family.

Adam had a ball sharing his river knowledge and soaking up whatever he could learn from people who work on the river every day. As L.M. Montgomery said of young Anne Shirley in "Anne of Green Gables," this afternoon his tongue was hinged on both ends.

Here are some photos that I did a quick edit of to get them ready tonight.

Adam meets C.R. Neale.

Joe Kincaid shows his family around the Mountain State. His daughter constantly asks, what does this do? She was a cutie.

A grandmother and her grandson enjoy the sidelwalk along the river as evening draws closer.

The towboat Milton comes out of the Kanawha River with several coal barges and heads down the Ohio River.

And here's what the radar on the Mountain State showed. On the left side of the screen is the Norfolk Southern Railroad bridge. On the right is the Silver Memorial Bridge.

I hope to have more photos tomorrow evening.

Point Pleasant bound

I'm off to run a couple of errands and then pick up Adam after school so we can run up to Point Pleasant and see the boats docked on the riverfront. He's going to a family reunion with his grandmother tomorrow, so he won't be able to be there then.

I'll try to have a few photos late this evening, after the boys give me the Internet back.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sternwheeler for sale

Want to buy a sternwheeler? The P.A. Denny is for sale , according to the Charleston Gazette. All you need is $75k for the boat and $225k for repairs.

LST-325 draws crowd, even after midnight

LST-325 has arrived in Pittsburgh. A lot of people turned out to see its trip there from Wheeling, even well after midnight, according to the Beaver County Times.