Monday, June 30, 2014

Random photos from June 2014

With a few thoughts, of course.

I suppose nothing says you had a good night fishing better than leaving your trash behind for the wind and river to carry off.

One of my favorite spots at one of my favorite times of day.

I don't know if this is serves a purpose or if it's just something that happens to be in the water.

I once knew a pipefitter, now deceased, whose fantasy was for a brewery to be built within commuting distance of his house. That would provide years of good work, he said. I thought about him when I saw this old Ashland Inc. barge, now owned by Marathon Petroleum, of course, at the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam. And I also recalled the day Ashland folks put local reporters like me on a corporate jet to fly us down to Jeffersonville, Ind., where Ashland announced it had signed a contract with Jeffboat to build a bunch of double-hulled barges to transport petroleum products.

Off-topic: This month I learned why so many people in the Huntington WV area praise the grape pineapple ice cream at Austin's Home-Made Ice Cream in Ceredo WV.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Primer time

I saw a boat going up the Ohio River the other day, and by the time I had caught up with it, it was about to go out of sight, so I to get a quick photo.

Yes, that's the O. Nelson Jones, and it looks like a new coat of primer has been applied to the pilothouse. It got me to wishing that boats could use a dark blue primer. In this case, the O. Nelson Jones would have looked like one of the old M/G boats, except that the nameboard is too legible from a distance.

Friday, June 27, 2014

American Queen was in town

The American Queen docked in Huntington for the day yesterday. I had to do some things to earn money, so I didn't have much time to spend at Harris Riverfront Park. I asked Adam if he wanted to go down and see it while I was otherwise occupied for an hour or so. He said no, I've been on it, and what's the use of going to see it again if I can't get close to it?

Good point, considering it was kind of hot yesterday. We got the grand tour of the boat -- pilothouse, engine room, standing beside the paddlewheel -- two years ago when it was in Point Pleasant WV. You can see a few pictures of that day here and here.

You could say he was interested but not excited. Now if he could have gotten up close to a Dravo Viking ...

Here are a few pictures from yesterday.

While I was at the park, I was kind of hoping someone would say, "That's a big boat." I would reply, "Not nearly as big as her captain." But I never got the chance to make the movie reference. As we say on Earth, c'est la vie.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This and that

Assuming the EPA's proposed new rule for existing coal-burning power plants kicks in, you'll still see coal being moved on the Ohio River. But where will it come from, and for what use? An analyst talks to SNL Financial about that.


You think of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming as a coal-producing area, but it also put out crude oil. And some of that oil is headed to or through the Ohio Valley to refineries east of the Mississippi.


And a master's degree student in history at Youngstown State University has written her thesis on three railroad bridges, one of which crosses the Ohio River at Steubenville OH and Follansbee WV. On the rare occasions I get up that way, I like to get a glimpse of that bridge. The section is long, and I haven't read it all yet, but if you want to give it a try, see if this link works.

M/V Buckeye State

My Internet service is working again, and I was able to get out for a little while yesterday with my granddaughter, meaning it was time for see if any boats were in the area. As it turned out the Buckeye State was.

Maybe she was getting irritated, or maybe she was three minutes away from falling asleep, but my girl gave me the same look her momma used to when I wanted to stop somewhere and get a picture of a boat, a dam or a bridge.

I'm keeping her anyway.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bridge approach collapses

It looks like the old Ledbetter Bridge over the Tennessee River at Paducah was replaced just in time. An approach to the old bridge collapsed this morning.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Back on line ... and the Delta Queen

Blogging is a lot easier when your Internet works and you don't have to sit in the parking lot of the nearest McDonald's to check your messages.

So is the Delta Queen really coming back to the Ohio River, as this story says might be possible?

It would be good to see Cincinnati as her home port again.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

RIP, Lelia

I've been told one of the prettiest old-time boats on the Ohio River, the Lelia C. Shearer, is going under the torch and is being scrapped. I hadn't seen her for a while, and I was hoping she was working somewhere else or on her way to South America.

In the face-off tournament I had planned once, I was going to pit the Lelia against the O. Nelson Jones (nee Pennsylvania, nee L. Fiore). I would take up for one boat as being prettier and Adam would take the other. I would let him choose which he preferred and I would take the other.

She was a beauty.

Another view on the future of coal

Today I plug an article by Taylor Kuykendall, a two-time former coworker. He interviews Nick Carter, president and chief operating officer of Natural Resource Partners, a company that manages leases to mine coal. Carter is retiring soon, and Kuykendall asks him several questions about the future of the coal industry.

The part that interested me most was Carter's take on Central Appalachian coal. The region includes southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, and it produces a lot of the coal that's moved by barge on the Ohio River. Here is one paragraph from a long answer that was pretty interesting:
You're seeing a lot of Central Appalachia coal miners move to the Illinois Basin for jobs and they will not come back. They will always be residents of southern Illinois, southern Indiana or western Kentucky. We've lost the better educated, harder working group of people from Central Appalachia who had the capability and the skills to earn the best wages in the industry, the best wages in the area. We've seen those people move somewhere else in order to get a job. That puts a big dent in the infrastructure and the ability to grow other industries in Central Appalachia. That's what causes my concern.

Please read the whole interview. It cuts through some of the clutter in what you hear and read about the industry.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

From the UMR

One thing I've learned in almost 40 years in the newspaper business is that you often need a cover story to get things done. People may say they want A done for a specific reason, but the real reason is B, C, D or more, or any combination.

This week's online version of the Waterways Journal has an interesting story about how the uppermost lock on the Upper Mississippi River, in the Twin Cities area, is scheduled for closure. It's a story of how some groups say they want something done for one reason, but other reasons may lurk in the background.

I don't know what's going on in the Twin Cities. I've never been there, and I could probably count on the fingers of one hand the people I know who have been. But the way the story is written, there are all sorts of things going on that bear watching by the people up there.

Friday, June 6, 2014


Two Congressmen recently toured the Greenup Locks and Dam and talked about waterways infrastructure. The locks probably need serious work, as they've been in service more than fifty years, but with what's going on at Olmstead and in the Pittsburgh District with Emsworth, Dashields and Montgomery, it will be interesting to see how money is divided up for Ohio River basin navigation improvements.

Trivia question: Who knows the name of the first commercial towboat to go through the Greenup locks?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Far from home

Seen from Addison, Ohio, in the Gallipolis pool Sunday afternoon.

You don't often see (whatever it is you call it) on boats on the Ohio.

Because sometimes I like watching big scoops of mud being dredged and dumped

At the boat ramp at the mouth of the Guyandotte River in Huntington WV this morning, after I dropped Adam off at band camp.

For anyone who cares, Adam is a freshman in high school this fall. He got off the bus for his last day of school this past Thursday at 4:05 p.m. or thereabouts, and he showed up for band orientation at 7 p.m. the next day. This summer will be busier than last summer. Which is good.

Monday, June 2, 2014

EPA rule on coal-fired power plants is out

As expected, this morning the EPA announced its proposed rules for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-burning power plants.

A guy like me really has nothing to add to the chatter that's going on about this. Expect people to say the same things they've always said about the EPA, the president, the War on Coal and global warming / climate change / climate disruption / whatever you want to call it.

Going along with that, I'll say what I've said for a long time. The climate change debate is something that is overlaid on underlying beliefs and prejudices. It gives people the good feeling of fighting for what's right in addition to being able to find an expert who agrees totally with whatever they believe or want to believe. And I can't believe how many people take their beliefs in this personally. I understand how a person who works in the coal industry or a person in an environmental protection nonprofit could do that, but there are people with no personal or financial stake who ... they would would rather have someone call their baby ugly than disagree with their position on this debate.

When I covered meetings of local government bodies for a living, I came up with a few unspoken and unwritten rules. Among them: The shorter the agenda, the longer the meeting. Another: No important decision will be made until each person has made the same point at least three times. In the matter of climate change, we're talking three gazillion times.

So I will keep my ever-changing opinion on this debate to myself for now. If people valued my opinion and looked to me as a (cliche alert) thought leader, I would share it. For now, why add to the clutter?


P.S. Don't be surprised if I take a few days off from the blog. My computer is working, but I'm trying to earn some money and I'm tired.

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Adam and I were headed up Ohio 7 today, just below Gallipolis, when I saw three empty barges coming around a bend in the river toward us. I joked to Adam that they were pushed by the AEP Future. Soon enough, we saw that one of the new AEP boats was pushing the empties. Adam saw another tow right behind the first and wondered if it was the AEP Mariner.

Wouldn't you know it was. We had to stop and get photos of two of the new AEP boats heading the same direction in one picture. The fact we had my 15-month-old granddaughter (Adam's niece) in the back seat complicated things a little bit.

When we found a safe place to pull off the road, we still couldn't ID the boats except that the one in the distance had to be either the AEP Mariner or the Chuck Zebula, based on its pilothouse windows. Adam wondered if the boat in front could be the Dan Elder, as that would be the oldest and newest of the boats in the same picture. I got off one shot of the lead boat, zoomed in and read the nameboard.

"You're smart," I said.

As we stood there planning our impromptu photo shoot, we noticed the Elder was slowing to a near stop while the Mariner kept coming ahead. The question would be the angle we would get when the Mariner overtook the Elder. As it turned out, we got a pretty good one.

We watched them as long as we could. We took turns withe the camera. While one person shot, the other kept his hands on the toddler. I let her walk around a little, but never close to the top of the bank or the road, of course.

I noticed in the second shot that the smokestacks of the Mariner partly block the Elder's nameboard. A second or two later ... that's how it goes.

Adam got one wide shot of the two boats and their tows. He apologized that he got my granddaughter and me in the lower right corner, but I'm not complaining.

I used this last one as my cover photo on Facebook. I told folks there was a lot going on in this photo, and now you know a good part of that story.