Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eggner's Ferry Bridge update

Divers are inspecting the bridge piers to see if they moved after impact.

What I'd like to know is how many lawyers are working on this thing right now, but that's something we may never know.


After 2 1/2 years of the Ohio River Blog, this is post number 1,000 of those that are still up. Some went up and came down for various reasons, but if you keep hitting the buttons at the bottom of the page and keep going to the end, you will see my 1,000 entries.

I wish I had something profound to say, but I don't, so we may as well end this historic occasion here and move on to the next item of business.

This, that and other things

Here's another blogger's take on the Eggner's Ferry situation, with reference to road and bridge talk in the Louisville area. Usual disclaimer: I'm not endorsing the views in this person's blog. I merely link to it in case you're interested.


Meanwhile, the commonwealth of Kentucky has issued a notice that it will have a meeting March 1 for contractors interested in a bridge project in downtown Louisville. A contract could be awarded in October.

Meanwhile, here's an interesting lead from The Courier-Journal:

A string of annual increases in spring enrollment at Indiana University Southeast and the University of Louisville came to a screeching halt this year — and officials say the shutdown of the Sherman Minton Bridge deserves at least some of the blame.


And the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will have a public hearing Thursday about a proposed landfill at the J.M. Stuart Power Station near Maysville, Ky., and its permit to discharge hot water into creeks that flow into the Ohio River. According to the Maysville, Ky., paper, the plant is allowed to discharge water that's 82 to 85 degrees, but it has been releasing water as hot as 100 degrees.


One more thing: I hate it when local TV reporters get cute or dramatic (worse, both) when doing stories about someone finding a body floating in the river. And that's all I've got to say about that.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Catching up on stuff

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a piece this morning on how old the locks and dams in western Pennsylvania are and how there's no money to do anything about them. There's a short sidebar on what would happen should the Montgomery dam fail.


This is a few days old, but repairs on the Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville are half complete.


And back in Pittsburgh, rust is threatening an World War II-era sub docked in the Ohio River.

(Updated) More on Eggners Ferry

UPDATE: Now the question is whether the part of the bridge that's still standing has moved.

And it seems the local LEOs (law enforcement officers, as they call them on NCIS) will ticket people who walk out onto the part of the bridge that's still standing.


Two days later and more details emerge about the Eggners Ferry Bridge accident.

This article says the guy steering the ship had been through the area many times before and he had two local pilots assisting him.

Meanwhile, state transportation department officials need to know if the impact caused a pier to shift and if it's still moving.

O. Nelson Jones

Two weeks from today, Adam and I will be in Point Pleasant WV for an event at the Point Pleasant River Museum. There will be a dedication ceremony and reception honoring the memory of Captain Nelson Jones at 2 p.m. The new,upgraded pilothouse simulator in the museum will be named in Jones' honor

Meanwhile, Ingram Barge Co. and AmherstMadison will have the towboat O. Nelson Jones open for pubglic tours from noon to 5 p.m.

We've had several photos of the O. Nelson Jones on here before, both under its present name and under its previous name the Pennsylvania.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Ironton-Russell bridge

The Ohio River bridge connecting Ironton, Ohio, and Russell, Ky., celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. This month, people in the two cities are celebrating -- I suppose -- the fact that a contract has been awarded to build a new bridge.

Here's another article that sums up the problems Ohio has had in finding someone to build the new bridge within its budget estimates. In short, the Ohio Department of Transportation wanted to replace the old steel truss cantilever design with a single-tower cable stay bridge. But the bids for that design came in waaaay over estimate, so ODOT had a two-tower bridge designed. The low bid for this one came in over estimate, but within the 10 percent leeway ODOT can live with.

A single tower would have been taller and would have dominated the landscape, like the ones at Huntington WV and Steubenville OH. The towers on the two-tower bridge will be shorter.

Back in the early 1990s, when the old steel truss bridge at Huntington was being replaced, the West Virginia Division of Highways bid out both a steel truss bridge and a cable stay bridge. The truss bridge came in significantly lower price than the cable stay bridge, so it was built. A cable stay design would have been nicer, but the bridge as built has a nice sidewalk that offers a great view of the river and the city. And the sidewalk is used by a lot of people.

If you want more information, check out this site. Be sure to go to the bottom to see the comments from people who would like to see the old bridge saved for pedestrian use and historical value and from those who think it best that it come down.

Why red?

One advantage to being 12 years old, as Adam is, is that you wonder why things are the way they are. Old fogies like me tend to have seen so much over the years that we don't ask questions that a kid would ask.

Like, why are most new coal barges painted red? We've seen some that were painted black, mostly with Campbell lettering on them, and Adam says he's seen a photo of a green barge, but why are coal barges painted a red that's almost maroon? His theory is that maroon matches the color of rust, so when the paint wears off and the steel starts rusting, you're less likely to notice.

But now he's wondering about the colors of barges, meaning the question will bug me, too.

More on the Eggners Ferry Bridge collapse (Updated)

UPDATE: A Flicker member who goes by the name of Porch Dog has some photos of the Delta Mariner at the bridge.


Here are some more news items on the Eggners Ferry Bridge collapse. If it weren't so far away, I'd be there right now.

Here's The Courier-Journal's report, which looks to me to be pretty good. The CJ is a Gannett paper. I worked for Gannett for many years. When a Gannett paper does good work, the work is very good. When it doesn't ...

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear promises speedy work to replace the bridge. This AP story gives details on the Delta Mariner's usual route, which takes it under the bridge.

Naturally, that part of the Tennessee River is closed to navigation for the time being.

From WAVE in Louisville: A local captain shares his thoughts on the accident and what it's like to take a boat that size under that particular bridge.

And here's a report from WPSD-TV.

Friday, January 27, 2012

More on the bridge collapse

UPDATE 3: Here's something with the full text of an Associated Press story with the latest on the accident, along with a bunch of photos of the ship and the bridge.

UPDATE 2: Here are some photos of the wreckage, via Flickr member Michael Davis.

Here are some more from the collapse site.


Check out this link to see a couple of photos of the ship sitting there in the water with the bridge sitting on its bow. It makes you wonder what the first words out of the pilot's mouth were when this happened.


Statement by the company that seems to have owned the cargo transported on the Delta Mariner, which struck the bridge.

Here's an AP story.

I'll probably have more updates later today.


I've gone around with my newsroom colleagues about the difference between a tugboat and a towboat and the difference between a towboat and a barge. And I chuckle when folks on TV say after a heavy rain that Huntington's viaducts are flooded. I tell my colleagues that if the viaducts flood, the whole city is in trouble. I guess they like the word "viaduct" over the word "underpass" because "viaduct" sounds a lot fancier. But if they ever bothered to open the dictionary that every newsroom has, they would see that the viaduct goes over the underpass. You, the underpass passes under the viaduct.

It's kind of like when a TV anchor talks about picketers outside a building, I grind my teeth. A picket line is a line of pickets. Those people carrying signs are pickets.

I say all this because I was cruising the Internet a few minutes ago looking for updates on the bridge collapse in western Kentucky. First reports last night said the bridge had been struck by a barge. Now that I think about it, a pier might have been hit be a barge, but I doubt the bridge itself was.

This morning, some news accounts describe the Delta Mariner as a supply boat. Most refer to it as a cargo ship. One story described it as a "huge cargo ship."

This comes back to some fussing I've been doing with myself lately over exactly what riverboats are Dravo Vikings and what boats look like Vikings but aren't. Same with the 3200 series or "Steel" boats or those that look like them but aren't. By the way, don't anger school bus fans by referring to some older Thomas Built models as an FS-65. Take my word for it; don't do it.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tennessee River bridge collapses after barge strike (Updated

UPDATE: And more here.

Broadcast news outlets in western Kentucky are reporting that the Eggner Ferry Bridge, which crosses the Tennessee River in the Land Between the Lakes area, has partially collapsed after being struck by a barge.

That's about all that is known or reported at this time.

UPDATE: Now they're saying the bridge was struck by a "cargo ship." I looked up the Delta Mariner, and this is what I found.

And here's more.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

M/V Escatawpa again

Monday around sunset I saw the AmherstMadison towboat upbound on the Kanawha River at Charleston. Tuesday morning I saw it at the London Locks and Dam on the Kanawha, locking through downbound.

Catching up ... tomorrow, maybe

I've spent the past few days up the Kanawha River and fighting to keep the sore throat away. People I've worked with have been fighting it, and my daughter says a lot of people at the call center where she works have had it. She had to take a day off because of it.

Sorry about all this. Maybe tomorrow we can catch up on a bunch of stuff that's been backing up.

Monday, January 23, 2012

M/V Escatawpa on the Kanawha

I was able to get down to the Ohio River for a few minutes this morning. I saw some birds, but not in a good spot for a picture. I saw an AEP boat in the distance, but I didn't have time to wait for it.

As I was leaving work in Charleston,  I did see a boat that turned out to be the Escatawpa, so I got my first towboat photo from up on the South Side Bridge over the Kanawha River. I look forward to getting a few more from there in better light.

And yes, the boat is pushing the barges on the port side rather than from the center.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Not much out there

Sorry for the light posting of late, but there's not a whole lot that's been going on that has grabbed my interest in the little free time I've had this past week. I can't even get into the mood to mark the 75th anniversary of the 1937 flood. The natural disaster, not the Huntington-based band.

Sorry, it's a local joke. The band, which includes several  people I used to work with at the Huntington paper, calls itself the 1937 Flood, the band, not the natural disaster. The band has been around for several years. Its original members chose the name so they could say people around town were always talking about them.

Adam and I tried chasing some boats this past week, but usually they were nowhere near where we thought they should be. And the river is not all that pretty right now. Choppy, muddy water; gray skies; bare trees; not much activity on the water; banks too muddy to walk on. But things will get better soon.

I have some photos from the Kanawha River that I may post later, when I get back from a birthday party for one of Adam's friends. Or I may dip into the archives again. You never know.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ohio River caviar

So as I read this story about a couple who pleaded guilty to illegally harvesting paddlefish eggs for sale as caviar, I asked myself, would I knowingly eat eggs from the Ohio River? Answer: probably not. I would say, Never, but I learned a long time ago that "never" and "always" come back at you in ways you don't like.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

M/V Paul Tobin 1/15/12

It's not the best, but here's a photo of the M/V Paul Tobin with the lower end of Huntington, W.Va., in the background on a nearly cloudless winter evening.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A towboat and a bridge

It took us a couple of trips out, but Adam and I saw the new AEP boat the M/V Paul Tobin this evening. I got some pictures, but none of them were particularly good. It may have been the camera, or it may have been the photographer. I take that back. I may have gotten one good photo that was different from most that I post on here, but for some reason I can't get either an Apple computer or a Windows 7 computer to read the camera card.

At one point, Adam and I were on Huntington's 6th Street bridge (proper name: Robert C. Byrd Bridge) when it started vibrating in a way we had never felt before. It bothered me slightly, but it really got to Adam. To calm him down, I said before the Silver Bridge fell there were some unusual sounds. So what happens but we began hearing metal clanging sounds. He got nervous, and I said he could walk off the bridge if he wanted while I waited to see the Tobin. Then I said the sounds could be coming from the barges under the bridge. Sure enough, they were. But the bridge still vibrated more than usual.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bridge demolition begins

Demolition on the Fort Steuben Bridge at Steubenville, Ohio, has begun. The good part will come in February or March, when most of the structure will come down in a controlled explosion.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

River infrastructure problems in the Pittsburgh District

This is a long PDF file, but it's a good one. It's the Fall 2001 issue of Pittsburgh Engineer, and it has several articles about ongoing problems with navigation dams in the Pittsburgh District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. One article talks at length about problems at the Montgomery Locks and Dam. I like the opening paragraph in particular.

The US Army Corps of Engineers’ Pittsburgh District maintains the oldest, largest and most fatigued lock and dam network in the nation’s inland marine transportation system. Many of its structures are approaching an alarming tipping point where deterioration, inefficient funding and roughly $400 million in backlogged critical maintenance are converging to push the aging system to the brink of catastrophic failure. Nowhere is this more evident than at Montgomery Locks and Dam on the Ohio River and Elizabeth Locks and Dam on the Monongahela River, where the Corps has spent millions of dollars on temporary repairs.

Check it out. There are a lot of details in there.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Train crossing bridge, reflected

If you want to see one of the best photos I've ever seen of a train crossing a bridge over the Ohio River, check out this one on Flickr. From the description of the shooting site, it's worth a day trip to the area just to check out the photo possibilities.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

M/V Nashville Hunter

Yes, I like watching the new Marathon Petroleum towboats go by. Marathon has three: the Detroit, the Kentucky and the Marathon. A fourth boat of the same design is on the lower part of the Ohio River. The Nashville Hunter of Hunter Marine is in the Smithland pool at the time of this writing. If you want to see a  photo of it next to the Detroit, check out Barry Griffith's Flickr photostream.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Up into the Elk

The Elk River in West Virginia empties into the Kanawha River a mile or so below the state capitol in Charleston. Every now and then an AmherstMadison boat known as the Iron Duke delivers a barge of sand or other construction material to a dock a short ways above the mouth of the Elk. This week I was lucky enough to see the Iron Duke turn out of the Kanawha and up the Elk twice.

This first shot was taken Thursday, Jan. 5.

And this was taken Friday, Jan. 6. It's the load of sand being delivered that day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Spring flood and weather oscillations

The flood on the Ohio River this past spring, particularly on the lower Ohio, would have to be the top news story of 2011, if this blog did that sort of thing. Here's a short scientific paper looking at whether the weather system that produced the flood is part of a regularly occurring oscillation, whether years or decades in length.

I talked with two of the study's authors for this story in The State Journal.

More coal-fired power generation closing

Another utility has announced plans to replace coal-burning units with those powered by natural gas. This time it was Duke Energy, which said last week that it will shut down two units at its Gallagher power plant at New Albany, Ind., across the Ohio River from Louisville, and replace that generation with gas-fired units it is purchasing from another utility.

The two units at Gallagher will close by Feb. 1. According to this article in The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Gallagher has been a problem in the Louisville area for a long time. But its problems show that burning coal to make electricity is becoming more expensive, and the economics of burning coal require larger generating units that can justify the hundreds of millions of dollars that installing scrubbers and/or other equipment can cost.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


The other day I asked if there were any women working on towboats as captains, pilots, engineers ... anything other than cooks. C.R. Neale helped me out by telling me of one woman who is captain of a boat, and she happened to be the person who was steering the Marge McFarlin when I got a picture of it on Friday, which prompted my question in the first place. I made contact with her, and she verified she saw Adam and me and waved at us.

So thanks to C.R. for the help. And to the captain for responding to my inquiry verifying that it was her indeed.

And if you want to see what various towboats look like on the inside, check out C.R.'s site Aboard A Towboat.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Are there women working on towboats on the Ohio River in jobs other than as a cook? Any deckhands, mates, strikers, engineers, steersmen, pilots, captains or whatever?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Windy day at Kanawha 1

It was a blustery day in Point Pleasant, W.Va., on New Year's Day. The Ohio and Kanawha rivers both showed the effects of strong winds under gray skies. But Adam and I got to see a few boats there at AmherstMadison harbor anyway, with the big ones being the M/V West Virginia ...

... and the AEP Legacy.