Saturday, October 23, 2010

"Steel" boats

Some people have called them the Dravo 3200 series. Some people refer to them as the "steel boats" because Ohio Barge Line had several, with most if not all their names beginning with the word "Steel." There was the Steel Ranger, the Steel Leader and the Steel Pioneer, among others. After I ran an errand this morning, I saw another, the former Steel Trader.

This boat was built in 1965 by Dravo Corp. at Neville Island, Pa., near Pittsburgh. It was owned by OBL until Ingram Barge Co. bought the assets of OBL in 1984. Ingram kept the "steel" names for a while, but eventually changed them. The Steel Trader became the William E. Porter, which remains a familiar sight on my part of the Ohio River.

I saw the Porter this morning after the sun had risen. A little fog was holding to the surface of the Ohio, but you had to look for it.

This first photo is of the William E. Porter as it passes Huntington, W.Va. It's facing into the sun, which is to my right.

After the boat passes under the East End bridge, it's heading into the sun (from my perspective), putting the side I can see in shadow. Here are two shots, one of the boat and its 15-barge tow, and a closer shot.

I used to work with a guy whose father was a captain on one of the OBL boats. Companies other than Ohio Barge Line owned boats from this series, with Ohio River Co. being one. As things happen, I also used to work with a woman whose father was a captain of one of those boats -- the Harllee Branch Jr.

The boats in this series are nice to photograph. If I were to re-do my top 10 towboats list, these boats would still be on it.