Saturday, December 6, 2014

Crounse Week, Day 1: They’re everywhere

Why Crounse Week? A couple of reasons.

First, I was down by the river the other day taking pictures of the Linda Reed when I got to thinking about how many pictures I had taken of that boat and three of her four identical sisters: the Paula Ruble, the Janis R. Brewer and the Jackie Englert. If I have seen the Leslie M. Neal, I don't remember it.

Second, a couple of weeks ago Adam and I were at Harris Riverfront Park in Huntington when we saw a Crounse boat approaching at a distance. We have seen so many of them that this appearance was nothing special, so we didn't wait around to see which boat it was or what it was pushing.

Crounse boats are so common around here that they're almost a part of the background. So, I asked myself, why not dig up some of my favorite pictures of Crounse boats -- not necessarily the best, but some of my favorites -- and introduce them to people who might not have seen them the first time they appeared on this five-and-a-half-year-old blog, on my Flickr photostream or on my Facebook page?

So here we go with this experiment in theme weeks on the Ohio River Blog.

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Whenever you need a towboat on the Ohio River, it seems a Crounse boat is nearby.

Crounse Corp. boats aren’t the flashiest. They don’t have the most trendy color scheme. They aren’t the biggest. But those small boats are out there in low water or high water delivering coal, limestone and other products to power plants and other customers on the Ohio River and its tributaries, along with the Tenn-Tom and Black Warrior systems.

An October morning on the Ohio north of Huntington, W.Va. The esplanade of old Lock and Dam 27 can be seen in the curve on the opposite (Ohio) shore.

Crounse’s website says the company handles more than 30 million tons of cargo annually by using 35 towboats and 1,122 barges. Crounse goes for simpilicity. Most of its boats are similar in design, and it uses only two types of barge.

The company has sales and operations offices in Maysville and Paducah. Its traffic office is in Paducah, along with corporate headquarters. As with many barge companies on the Ohio, Crounse is privately owned.

Although its boats are smaller than those of some of its competitors, I have been told they are well-maintained.

The Paula Ruble passes Huntington upbound one night during a "supermoon" event.
Crounse pushes loaded barges in both directions as it hauls coal from various sources to customers all along the Ohio River.
Having said all that, Crouse is probably the largest towing company on the Ohio whose boats I have not been on. I've set foot on AEP, Ingram, Marathon, Amherst Madison, Ohio River Company and Ashland Oil boats, and I'm pretty sure I got to board an ACL (or ACBL) boat for a few minutes once, but Crouse ... no. Crounse doesn't do open houses in this area, and I don't work at a fleeting area where I can chat with people who work on Crouse boats. So most of what I know about the company and its boats is second hand. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to learn more.

 Next: Pushing coal.

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