Friday, March 30, 2012

My favorite bridge ... again

I dropped off my older son Joey for his Marine Corps PT. With a few minutes to spare, I decided to get a couple of photos of the Huntington East End bridge. Here's one.

There are a few photos that I need to get of this bridge that I haven't gotten yet. The bridge doesn't move the way a boat does, but the light moves. There are lots more photos to make before I get too tired of shooting the same old bridge.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Down by the river

I didn't want to get close enough for this couple to notice me. What brought them to the edge of the Ohio River on a beautiful spring evening? Probably none of my business.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Not a window

I've been at the new office for a week now, and I'm used to the fact I no longer have a window overlooking the Kanawha River to gaze out of when I feel the need to rest my eyes. But I have enough room on my minicubicle wall to hang my poster of the M/V Detroit coming down the Ohio River, with the Kyger Creek and Gavin plants in the background.

And I hang up my homemade Ohio River calendars, too. Miss March is the Floyd H. Blaske coming out of the Kanawha and heading down the Ohio. April will feature a heron in flight over the Ohio. May will likely be Adam at the levers of the Hoosier State two years ago.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Elk River Blog?

Or maybe, where the M/V Iron Duke has gone when I've seen turn out of the Kanawha with one or two loaded sand and gravel barges and head up the Elk River.

But that would be one long blog entry title. The photo above was taken in January, by the way.

Today I had to have my car worked on. While it was in the shop, I walked down the street about a mile, looked to my left and saw a bridge over the Elk River. Naturally, I had to check it out. From its sidewalk, I saw a clamshell scoop removing sand or gravel (it sounded like gravel) from a barge and deposit it in a hopper, from which a belt took it up on shore.

I took this with a phone camera. This is a cropped version of the original image.

It was interesting to look at the angle of the barge as it was unloaded from front to back. I stood there about 10 or 15 minutes before I figured it was time to walk back to the shop. Before I left, I noticed how the water line on the riverward side of the barge had changed.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Two at Kenova

Yesterday, Adam and I went down to Virginia Point Park at Kenova, W.Va., to see what was there.

We saw the Capt. James Anderson ...

And we saw the Garyville leave the Ohio and head up the Big Sandy.

M/V John M. Rivers

... passing under the 6th Street bridge at Huntington, W.Va. ...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dirty Ohio

I don't know how many of you saw this, but last week a group published a report saying the Ohio River is the most polluted river in the United States. Considering the industries along the Ohio and it's tributaries, my first reaction was, "Well duh." We've come a long way in cleaning up the Ohio, and there's still a long way to go.

Beyond that, I'll have to think some more.

Steel boats

I found this one last night while looking through package of old family photos. These boats have Ingram logos on the stacks, but they appear to retain their old Ohio Barge Line names. One has a long word for the second part of its name, while the other has "Steel" over the second word.

According to my Inland River Record from about that time, there were several Steel boats: Challenger, City, Clipper, Courier, Explorer, Express, Forwarder, Leader, Patriot, Pioneer, Ranger, Rover and Trader.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Prime time

Thursday evening I took the long way home, meaning I took in a few miles of Route 2 along the Ohio River to see if there was anything to be seen. In this case, it was the Sam M. Fleming.

As it got closer, it appeared the boat is being painted. It reminded me of Memorial Day weekend a couple of years ago when I got this one of the Vernon C. Smith, with what looked like primer or undercoat or whatever it's called on the pilothouse.

But as the Sam M. Fleming passed my shooting spot, I got a closer look and wondered if I was right that it was primer or undercoat or whatever on the rear.

In the end, I decided I didn't really care. I'll find out what it was soon enough, if I need to know.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

M/V Fred Way (updated)

The Kanawha River is home to a lot of older, smaller boats whose main job is to push barge tows of up to nine barges up and down the river, some going to the largest coal-fired power plant in West Virginia and some to and from the Ohio.

One of those boats is the Fred Way, built in 1945 by Dravo Corp. at Neville Island, Pa. Its original name was the Buckeye, and it had several other names until September 1984. According to my copy of the Inland River Record, the handy reference book of towboat information, "Sold Jan. 1984, renamed Sept. 1984 to honor originator of this book in 1945 as well as a popular riverman..." Capt. Fred Way was a well-known and respected river historian up until his death 20 years ago this fall.

For towboat geeks, the Fred Way is about 146 feet long and about 28 feet wide. It's powered by two engines generating a total of 2,000 horsepower. It spends a lot of its time on the Kanawha, but it's a frequent hauler on the Ohio River, too.

This evening, as I left work, I decided to drive down to the Kanawha River to see if any boats were in the area. Now that we've moved to our new office, I don't have a window overlooking the river anymore. I saw the Fred Way heading down with nine barges, so I had to figure out where I would get a few shots. For about a year, I'd been wanting to shoot from the Patrick Street Bridge, so I figured this was as good an opportunity as any.

There's a lot in this first shot.

The boat in the background is the (I don't know; I never got a good ID, but it could be the Speedway)  of Marathon Petroleum, delivering a couple of barges of product to a terminal just beyond the blue bridge. That bridge carried Interstate 64 over the Kanawha, and in terms of traffic numbers is the busiest bridge in West Virginia. The railroad bridge in the foreground hasn't been used in several years. About a year ago, some folks who wanted to covert it for  use as a bike trail had an engineer look it over. It turned out that the bridge and its approaches needed several million dollars worth of work, so that plan was scrapped as far as I know.

About the Fred Way itself, because of its unique (as far as I know) design, it has several different -- perhaps even odd -- looks depending on the angle you view it from. This straight-on shot shows how large the front windows are on the pilothouse.

And here are other photos of the boat approaching the bridge and heading on downriver.

 I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I hope I look this good and am this useful when I'm 67 years old.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

River crossings

The ferry at Sistersville, W.Va., and Fly, Ohio, is scheduled to open for the season this coming weekend. According to this story, the ferry board plans to advertise the ferry service in hopes of making it a tourist stop. Good. Whenever I'm up that way, I have to cross the ferry.

 Photo copyright 2011 by me, Jim Ross. 


The Ohio Department of Transportation is looking at nontraditional ways of funding a replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati. Those would include naming rights, tolls and public-private partnerships. It seems the state doesn't have the estimated $2.4 billion construction cost in cash.


This week's e-mail included a notice about the Milton-Madison Bridge replacement project. Here is the first paragraph:

The KYTC and INDOT will hold a Public Information Meeting regarding the Milton-Madison Bridge Project on Thursday, March 22, 2012, from 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. A short presentation will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will include an overview of the construction activities to-date, the upcoming 5-day bridge closure and planned construction activities following the 5-day bridge closure. The 5-day bridge closure is currently scheduled for April 25–29, 2012. The project team will discuss traffic patterns and detour routes planned for the 5-day bridge closure period.

This will be the first of two five-day closures. I want to be there when they take down the old bridge and when they start sliding the new bridge into place. Yes, sliding. The piers of the old bridge are being strengthened. A new bridge is being built on temporary piers next to the old one. When the new bridge is finished, the old bridge will be removed and through a method called truss sliding will be eased onto the piers.

That I gotta see.


Something different: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has run a four-part series on the deteriorating state of locks and dams on the Ohio River and its tributaries.

Here is a link to today's final part of the series, which has links to the earlier parts.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Stage marker

Old Lock and Dam 28 at Sybene, Ohio, is a nice place at the top of the bank. The old powerhouse is a senior citizens center. The riverbank itself that once led down to the locks is returning to nature. Some half a century after the lock and dam were taken out of action when the Greenup Locks and Dam raised its pool, the concrete-covered bank is now covered with brush and small trees. But the steps leading down toward the river are still usable. Here is one of the stage markers on the downstream side of the steps.

There's no paint or anything to provide contrast, so you pretty much have to look at them through their shadows.

Yeah, I like to photograph and visit these old locks and dams whenever I can.

If I ever make it down to Paducah, I hope the Corps of Engineers lets me visit Lock and Dam 52 the way it did in 1986.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

M/V Mike Weisend

About a month ago, Adam and I saw the new AEP towboat Mike Weisend just below Wheeling, but there was no place to pull over to get a photo. This evening, shortly before sunset, I saw the Weisend again, and this time I had a place to pull over and a camera. Here the Weisend is passing Huntington, specifically the Highlawn neighborhood, in the area of the water intake and the old Ohio River Co. coal loading dock.

As you can see here, the Weisend was kicking up some wake.

The big disappointment of the evening was when the boat rounded the bend and  headed toward the East End bridge. The sun really lights up the bridge cables, which are wrapped with white plastic. But here, as I was lining up my shot, the sun went behind a big dark cloud for a while.

So this completes my set of the new AEP boats to go along with photos of all the new Marathon boats in action. I lack two or three of the new Crounse boats, mainly because they haven't been up this far yet.

Maybe there's another group of boats I need to get -- before they're sent to South America like the turtlebacks and the Hillman boats.

M/V Lee Synnott

Although I haven't really sought it out, the Lee Synnott has been in some of my favorite and best towboat pictures on the Ohio River. Saturday evening I saw it heading toward Huntington, so I got a couple of shots.

These won't make my Top 10 Towboat Photos list or my Top 100 Ohio River Photos list, which includes dams, bridges and wildlife, but they are good enough for the Ohio River Blog.

And I still don't know how to pronounce this boat's name.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Three locks, three boats

Things have happened and I've gotten sidetracked. So before leaves turn the hills to green, here are a few more photos from the trip Adam and I took to Steubenville, Ohio, last month to watch and report on the demolition of the old Fort Steuben Bridge.

On the way back down the Ohio River, we stopped at all three locks and dams, and we were lucky to catch boats locking through all three.

First, the Gene Herde of ACL was at the Pike Island Locks and Dam.

Then the AEP Future was at the Hannibal Locks and Dam.

We crossed the bridge, and I shot this one blindly while watching the road. This one gave the best image, although it required some work.

And last, the Wally Roller, also of ACL, was at the Willow Island Locks and Dam.

First steps toward a new bridge

The first steps of construction have begun on a new cable stay bridge to replace the 90-year-old bridge connecting Ironton, Ohio, and Russell, Ky., according to The Independent of Ashland, Ky.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Foggy river

This afternoon was warm and dry, but the morning began a little chilly and -- along the Ohio River -- a bit foggy. I went down to the river for a minute and stayed a few when I saw the Capt. Bill Stewart heading toward me. These were taken from Harris Riverfront Park in Huntington, with Chesapeake, Ohio, in the background.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Seen on the Ohio

I had to go out yesterday, so I took my camera and got a few river shots of boats I saw.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Re-opening for Eggner's Ferry bridge set

The plan is for the Eggner's Ferry bridge over the Tennessee River to be re-opened by Memorial Day. The company that got the contract was the same one that did the repairs to the Sherman Minton Bridge over the Ohio River at Louisville.

Gallipolis Island

I see where the Fish and Wildlife Service has approached the city commission of Gallipolis, Ohio, about buying Gallipolis Island, a little five-acre island that lies just off the Ohio shore but, because of the way these things are figured, is really in West Virginia.

According to the article, the island is about five acres, although it used to be 88 acres. If that's the case, it must have been a pretty big place before the dams raised the river levels and erosion set in.

The article mentions that someone else owns the mineral rights to the island. About 30 years ago, I did a phone interview with the company that owned the rights. It wanted to dredge the island to get the sand and gravel there. The owner of the company told me the city owned the top of the island and he owned the bottom, and he wanted to take his part. But the island is still there.

Good question

Was the guy steering the Steven J. Mason this day in trouble with the Coast Guard?

You decide.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Three more days

With Daylight Savings Time almost upon us, I can look forward to maybe a few towboat chases in the evening after work. With my schedule now, I've been getting home around dark, leaving little time to look for new boats or old boats in unfamiliar locations.

At work, I have three days left with my window overlooking the Kanawha River. My coworkers, many of whom I've known for less than a year, know of my interest in the boats that go by. Some of my friends have even learned the names of a few of the boats.

This week I'd not seen any pass my window, then today I saw three in a short time. First there was the Marlie Price...

... then the Escatawpa ...

... and finally the Drew Scott.

Here you can see the green water of the Kanawha and the muddy brown water coming out of the Elk, which is right next to where I work now.

On Thursday, Ill sit at my new desk. Across from me will be a TV sports anchor. Behind me will be one of the younger reporters who I spend a lot of time working with. The only window will look out at ground level on a city street. I'll miss that window. I remember the thrill when I looked out and saw the new Marathon coming up the Kanawha.

And a few weeks later, I saw it again.

You don't get that looking out at whatever it is across the street from where I'll be. I guess I'll just have to pack a lunch and take it over to Haddad Riverfront Park every now and then. And a camera, too.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A couple of photos from this past weekend

Here's a Viking as viewed from the rear.

That was the Andrew Cannava, by the way.

And here are a couple of boats making tow on the Ohio.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Winter's last stand?

For almost all of this winter, the hills have been brown as can be. This morning we woke up to snow. It was the first snow day the boys have had off from school this school year.

So when I got to work, I was thinking about how I'd rather be out driving the roads along the Ohio River, looking for a good shot with a boat or a bridge or a dam.

Today I got no pictures, even when a barge broke loose on the Kanawha and started floating downstream. I did spend a couple of minutes thinking about river photos from winters past, like these:

Winter photos can be nice, but I still like spring better. Only about six more weeks until the hills around here are green again.