Sunday, June 30, 2013

M/V Dan Elder, part 2

A few more photos from yesterday's open house on the AEP towboat Dan Elder.

Capstan from above.

Capstan, up front and close.

Trying to get artistic with the steering levers.

Another attempt at getting fancy with the sticks.


Never mind.

And a lot of people enjoyed a day on the boat.

Not too hot. Not too cool. Just right.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

M/V Dan Elder, part 1

I didn't expect to see the M/V Dan Elder having an open house at Point Pleasant, W.Va., today, but when I did, I knew Adam and I had to get on board.

By my count this is the ninth boat where Adam has gotten to sit between the sticks. That doesn't count steering a small sternwheeler in a parade. That one had a wheel instead of levers.

More photos and content later.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Reliant and the Nell

Seen today a couple of miles up the Kanawha, at a place along old U.S. 35 where you can pull off and get boat pictures.

Friday, June 21, 2013

My preferences for this day

You know what I want to do today? Drive up to Sistersville, W.Va., and ride the ferry a few times. Or drive down to Madison, Ind., and drive across the new bridge a few times. And on the way back, catch a ride or two on the ferry at Augusta, Ky.

Or while I'm at Madison, head on down to Louisville and walk across the new/old pedestrian bridge and be there when night falls.

Or maybe just sit on the riverfront at Marietta, Ohio, and watch boats go by.

Or, for a shorter trip, head down to Portsmouth, Ohio, and search for a good spot to get a picture of that huge CSX railroad bridge at Sciotoville. And then head down to Maysville, Ky., and enjoy the old suspension bridge there.

Yeah, I'm easily entertained.

But today I have to go to work. On the way home, I might make a short side trip down by the river to see how things look now.

Sometimes it disappoints me that I'm a (more or less) responsible adult.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Locked out

Here's something I put on my Flickr photostream tonight, and now I can't find the edited photo.

Friday, June 7, 2013

I want to go back

You know, I've been blessed to have been able to travel to a variety of places. I've walked the streets of the Old City in Jerusalem and stood in the Garden of Gethsemane on a Saturday night, staring across the valley at the lit up Temple Mount.

I've visited Hiroshima and stood near the spot where the bomb detonated. I've walked past a place where Mozart lived and a place where Gregor Mendel did some of his experiments in genetics.

A cab driver in Amman, Jordan, took me down to the Dead Sea and introduced me to a camel herder. I've driven the Pacific Coast highway from San Francisco to LA.

I want to go back to the Pacific Coast highway, but this time I would drive it north from Santa Barbara to Seattle. That's just a fantasy, though. I have neither the money nor the time for that. Just as I'll never drive the road -- I think it's U.S. 2 -- from the Pacific coast through Montana and North Dakota.

I want to go back to the lower part of the Ohio River someday, preferably on a warm, dry week in summer. I want to spend a week in Paducah alone, and another few days exploring the area from Evansville to Cairo. I want to chat with the locals, see the old wicket dams, cross the bridges and count the boats.

There are plenty of towns with histories most of us never think about. There are contrasts within a few miles that I want to examine. What, I really want to know, is the difference between Cairo, Illinois, and Wycliffe, Kentucky? On a July evening, would I still find a couple of boys fishing at Lock and Dam 53? Are some of the old buildings that I saw on a quick visit to Golconda in1986 still there?

And where is the best place to photograph the lower river?

Maybe I will get down there someday. Adam wants to go with me. You can have Myrtle Beach and Las Vegas and Disney World. I just want to see America -- including the town of that name in Illinois.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

They're only words on a map

Before Adam and I left the park at the mouth of the Ohio, I was up in the observation tower and heard a boat coming down the Upper Mississippi. Adam ran down to the river's edge to get a photo in case it turned up the Ohio, but it didn't. The M/V Mary Parker kept on going down the Miss.

That red navigation light in the lower left part of the picture is supposed to mark the end of the Ohio, I guess. But if you've seen the mouths of rivers and even creeks, you know the river doesn't end where a guy draws a line on a map. It ends when its waters mingle with and can't be distinguished from what flows down from the other river.

This day, I didn't know where that mixing zone was or how far it extended. It would have been nice to know, but I already knew the "Ohio" extended somewhere off into the distance out there. Where it ends and the combined waters of the Ohio and the Mississippi make a greater river, I don't know. Because that boundary changes every day, it really didn't matter.

Actually, it did. But there was no way to find out, and it was time to move on.

It was off to Olmstead.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Milestone for Milton-Madison bridge

If all went as planned, traffic moved across the new bridge connecting Madison, Indiana, and Milton, Kentucky, tonight.

In a a paragraph or two, I'll paste part of the news release about the event. I need to get down there soon. How many people can say they crossed an Ohio River bridge before it was closed and moved to another spot nearby? I mean, how cool is that?

You can find the full text of the news release starting with the link to the left on the project. But here are the first couple of paragraphs.

Louisville, Ky. (May 29, 2013) – After more than two years of construction on the new Milton-Madison Bridge, workers are gearing up for some of the final – and most anticipated – stages of the project, expected to take place this summer.

The first milestone occurs early next week when traffic is switched from the old bridge to the new bridge in its temporary location. Project contractor Walsh Construction expects the switch to take place on June  3 or 4.

Cairo highway bridge

We couldn't be that close to Cairo and not make a few trips across the highway bridge over the Ohio near its mouth. For the first part of this journey, we followed the usual practice of me driving and Adam shooting.

First, this is how the bridge looks as you approach it from the Kentucky side.

Looking straight on like this, it's easy to see this bridge is bigger than the ones we're familiar with on the middle and upper river.

Adam shot some barges being fleeted, and again, things are different down there. Up here, there's nowhere near enough room in the river to fleet barges away from shore like this.

Here are a couple of views from the park on the Illinois side.

The bridge is very narrow. I saw some tractor-trailers cross it, but I was not on there to see two of them traveling in opposite directions at the same time. That must have been a tight fit.

And there is no sidewalk. That disappointed me, as t here are some good boat pictures to be made up there. The first time we crossed it was around midnight, and there was plenty of nighttime activity on the river. When we left on Sunday morning, the rising sun made the AEP boat over by the Illinois shore shine really nice.

We first crossed it at night heading from Illinois into Kentucky. I thought the road signs said the bridge carried U.S. 60 over the Ohio. The road signs on the Kentucky side said we were on U.S. 51. It was almost five miles before I could pull over to check my map to see where we were. As I was doing that, my Marine Corps son got out his iPhone and used his GPS to tell me we were about 100 feet from where we needed to turn.

Here is some information on the bridge that I pulled off the National Bridge Inventory Database. There are some things that surprised me in here, particularly the last number where the bridge had a 22.4 sufficiency rating. That was higher than I expected, but when you think about how important it is, Kentucky probably spends a lot of money keeping it repaired. The cost of replacing a bridge that's more than a mile long can't be cheap.

State: KY
NBI Structure Number: 004B00021N
Route Sign Prefix: U.S. Highway
Route Number: 51
Facility Carried:US-51
Feature Intersected: OHIO RIVER -IC (SOU) RR
Location: 4.0 MI WEST OF JCT US51&6
Year Built: 1937
Status: Structurally Deficient
RecordType: Roadway is carried ON the structure
Level of Service: Mainline roadway
Owner: State Highway Agency
Highway Agency District: 01
Maintenance Responsibility: State Highway Agency
Functional Class: Principal Arterial - Other, Rural
Service On Bridge: Highway
Service Under Bridge: Railroad-waterway
Latitude: 36 59 40.49 N
Longitude: 89 08 40.36 W
Material Design: Steel
Design Construction: Truss - Thru
Approach Material Design: Steel
Approach Design Construction: Stringer/Multi-beam or Girder
Structure Length (m): 1,787.7
Navigation Vertical Clearance (m): 15.2
Approach Roadway Width (m): 7.3
Lanes on Structure: 2
Average Daily Traffic: 5350
Year of Average Daily Traffic: 2011
Design Load: M 18
Scour: Bridge foundations determined to be stable for assessed or calculated scour condition.
Bridge Railings: Do not meet currently acceptable standards.
Historical Significance: Bridge is possibly eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (requires further investigation before determination can be made) or bridge is on a State or local historic register.
# of Spans in Main Structure: 5
# of Spans in Approach Structures: 27
Bridge Median: No Median
StructureFlared: No flare
Transitions: Meets currently acceptable standards.
Approach Guardrail: Meets currently acceptable standards.
Approach Guardrail Ends: Meets currently acceptable standards.
Navigation Control: Navigation control on waterawy (bridge permit required).
Navigation Horizontal Clearance (m): 192
Structure Open?: Open, no restrictions
Deck: Good Condition
Superstructure: Satisfactory Condition
Substructure: Good Condition
Structural Evaluation: Basically intolerable requiring high priority of replacement
Sufficiency Rating (%): 22.4