Monday, August 31, 2009

Another bridge for the history books

Another old Ohio River bridge is coming down, according to the Wheeling News-Register.

That makes two bridges up that way, with the other at Weirton. I absolutely HAVE to get up that way in September to get some pics.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A hawk in downtown Huntington WV

Adam and I were up on the 6th Street bridge shooting pictures of boats on the Ohio River (and a litter deposit on the bridge that Adam discovered; more on that later). As we were walking down off the bridge to our car, I heard a crow cawing. I looked over to the Bob Evans restaurant there in downtown Huntington WV when I saw a crow chasing a small hawk. The hawk landed on this billboard.

The billboard advertises King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland KY. It's aimed at traffic leaving Huntington and crossing the Ohio River to Ohio. The hawk appears to be sitting (on the billboard) where the Ohio River bridges connect Ashland with Lawrence County OH.

I'm nowhere near a hawk expert. From the white bands on the tail, I'm guessing this is a red shouldered hawk. If so, I've seen this hawk or another of this variety in the East End of Huntington this year.

Or it could be a broad-shouldered hawk like the one that hangs around the bird feeder at the home of my former coworker and fellow terminated newspaper man Dave Peyton. I'll let the experts decide the bird's identity.

This photo is about as good of resolution as I dared to try for. I had to crop the image down quite a bit to get this much in. If I ever get a decent job again. I'm going to have to buy a 500-mm lens so I can get good pics of hawks and buzzards and wild turkeys.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Design set for new bridge at Ironton OH

It looks like Ironton OH and Russell KY will be joining the list of Ohio River cities with new cable stay bridges.

According to a story in The Ironton Tribune, officials of the Ohio Department of Transportation told the Ironton City Council on Thursday about plans to build a cable stay bridge with two towers. It will replace the steel truss bridge now in service. That bridge was built in 1922. It was the first highway bridge over the Ohio between Wheeling WV and Cincinnati.

The story did not say whether the new bridge will be similar in design to the new U.S. Grant Bridge at Portsmouth OH or the new Bridge of Honor between Pomeroy OH and Mason WV.

According to the story, ODOT wanted to build a single-tower bridge, but that plan was too expensive. As far as I know, the only single-tower cable stay bridges over the Ohio are at Huntington WV/Proctorville OH and Weirton WV/Steubenville OH.


The Bridge of Honor:

The U.S. Grant Bridge:

The Frank "Gunner" Gatski Memorial Bridge, a horrible name not used locally. Instead, locals call it the East End bridge or the 31st Street bridge:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another fine summer morning ...

... this time with enough fog to make the landscape more interesting.

A tree, or what's left of one.

My favorite bridge reflecting the morning sun, and its mirror image in the still, low waters of the Ohio River.

The bridge reflected, closer.

Finally, the mouth of the Guyandotte River.

Hot chocolate and Ohio River not a good combination?

So down in Henderson KY a guy is driving near the river, spills hot chocolate in his lap and drives his 2008 Toyota Solara convertible into the Ohio River.

You can read the story in The Courier & Press of Evansville here. Some of the best stuff is in the reader comments.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fishing with a net

Here's a shot I grabbed the other day at Huntington's Harris Riverfront Park. There are some things in the photo I would have changed if I were setting it up from scratch, but I'll take it.

If you could see a larger version, you could see water droplets glistening against the silhouette of the fisherman.

Monday, August 24, 2009

mv. Jincy in the morning

Last Friday was about the perfect morning at one of my favorite spots for shooting life along the Ohio River. It's along West Virginia state Route 2 below the Merritts Creek connector. On the navigation charts, it's near the Dogham Bend Light on the West Virginia shore at Mile 302. There's almost noplace to pull your car off the road. But at one of the few spots where you can, it's a straight view up to old Lock and Dam 27 at Mile 201.

Blue-gray clouds hid the morning sun. The temperature was just right for short sleeves and no air conditioning.

This particular morning, I was there at 7:30 a.m. as a boat pushing loaded coal barges rounded the bend. The boat was the Jincy. It had left the Gallipolis locks at 3:40 a.m., meaning it was doing about 5 3/4 mph downstream.

Until the boat came closer, I couldn't hear its engine, but I could hear the sound of barges crashing through water.

A good morning.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Two boats together

The AEP Mariner came through the Greenup Locks and Dam yesterday but never made it up to the Gallipolis locks, so I guessed it was in the Big Sandy harbor somewhere. And the Chuck Zebula was in the area, but I didn't know it would be around South Point OH. It was a nice surprise to see them at the same spot where I could get them in one picture. That's the AEP Mariner in the drydock on the right and the Chuck Zebula on the left. To the right of the Zebula is the Catlettsburg of Marathon Petroleum. I didn't get an ID on the boat between the AEP Mariner and the Catlettsburg.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ohio River hydropower in the New York Times

The New York Times has discovered the process of retrofitting the Ohio River's navigation dams with hydroelectric plants. The story is here.

mv. R. Clayton McWhorter

So here's a boat I saw today. As it came down the river, I realized I didn't have any good summertime digital photos of a Dravo Viking class towboat this year. So I figured I needed to get some.

Now I hope this really is a Viking boat. If this is the boat that I think it is, it once was the Steel Rover of Ohio Barge Line.  It was built by Dravo in 1975.

I was sorry I didn't get to see the Omar when it was in the area a few days ago. And it's been a long time since the Erna E. Hunnycutt (the former Omega) was here. I almost got to ride the Omega in its first year on the water. But that's a story for another time.

Unemployment and ducks

This past week has been a pretty frustrating one, river-wise. I've tried to write a freelance piece, without success. Oh, I could put together some second-rate stuff, but that's not me, at least when it comes to trying to build a reputation again.

I've almost accepted the fact that I won't be returning to my former line of work soon. There are lots of entry-level jobs out there, but I can't see relocating my family hundreds of miles to take a job paying less than half of what I formerly earned. I can do that here.

Maybe I'll go back to school and try to get a master's in a field that combines my writing skills, my hobby of math and my interest in photography. I'll have to make some inquiries there.

In the meantime, I'll keep shooting the Ohio River and its tributaries.

As part of that, here's a duck I saw yesterday at Huntington's Harris Riverfront Park. My youngest and I had been throwing bird seed into the water. Some seeds floated, and some ducks were interested only in them. Some sank, and some ducks would go under water to retrieve them. Like this guy/girl.

You've heard the expression, like water off a duck's back. In this case, it's like water off a duck's face.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The old Valvoline

While going through some old photos, I found this one of the old Valvoline of Ashland Oil heading out of the Gallipolis Locks and Dam. I have several more shots of this old boat -- better ones, but I'm saving them for the book I'll get into once school starts and I can get kids out of the house.

Of course, I like to think this one is not too bad.

I don't have a scanner, so this is a photo of a photo, so the quality is not as good as it could be.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Education and vocabulary

My former employer has an article online about a new educational opportunity for people who work on the river.

Two things in the article made me run for cover, though:

"Ships" on the Ohio River.

"Tugboats" on the river.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fish survey

The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission has issued its fish survey reports for the Smithland, R.C. Byrd, Hannibal and Dashields pools. I've read the press release and scanned the PDF file for the RC Byrd pool. It will take some heavy studying on my part, as I'm not exactly a fish person.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bridge in the light

Around 5 p.m., the sun was shining bright on my favorite bridge despite a cloudy sky.  Naturally, I had to get a pic or two.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A summer Sunday morning

A summer Sunday morning, as the Pennsylvania cruises slowly up the Ohio River past Huntington ...

A man feeds pigeons, ducks and other birds at Harris Riverfront Park. When the food is gone, he and his motorized wheelchair leave the park.

Meanwhile, my younger self feeds stale bagels and bird seed to the same birds.

The Pennsylvania heads eastward into the morning sun.

And it passes the park and boat ramp at the mouth of the Guyandotte River.

Friday, August 7, 2009

One of my favorite places

One of my favorite places in Huntington is the sidewalk of the Robert C. Byrd Bridge over the Ohio River. Actually, I prefer to call it the 6th Street bridge, as a lot of locals do.

The sidewalk is on the upriver side of the bridge, meaning it's easy to stand there and get pictures of the Huntington skyline

or the texture of the river surface 70 feet below your feet

or an odd scene that catches your eye, such as a red sports car in a field of green

or a scene of lines and colors and light that you find interesting for a variety of reasons.

It's why I keep going back.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

More on new boats

Thanks to a tip from a reader, I now know that Crounse has at least two new boats. The other is the Janis R. Brewer, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last reported was in the Cannelton pool on the Ohio River. It's heading up the river, so if it gets this close I'll try to get a picture, although it's probably identical to the Linda Reed.

According to, Crounse took delivery of the Janis R. Brewer on April 9 and of the Linda Reed on June 16.

The site also says a new 6,000-hp towboat known as the AEP Leader was due for delivery or was delivered to AEP in July. Another page shows that the AEP Leader is scheduled for delivery this month, and it says four other boats that AEP had ordered for delivery this year and next have been cancelled.

The Coast Guard PSIX database lists the AEP Leader as "in service."

I'll just keep watching the Corps site and see when various boats are supposed to be in my area.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

mv. Linda Reed and more new boats

I got word last night that Crounse Corp.'s new towboat -- the Linda Reed -- was in my area. So I waited for it to pass through the Gallipolis locks downbound so I could get some shots. It left the locks around 1:30 p.m. today, meaning my 9-year-old son and I could follow it downriver as it approached Huntington and have time to go to the store to get stuff for supper. (Yeah, other folks in the family have to eat, you know).

We caught the boat first at the launch ramp at Athalia, Ohio, then at old Lock and Dam 27, then at the boat ramp at the mouth of the Guyandotte River on the West Virginia side, and finally up in the sidewalk of the Robert C. Byrd Bridge in downtown Huntington. He and I shot more than 100 photos, a couple of which are included here.

The Linda Reed sure doesn't look like the other Crounse boats. By the way, while chasing the Linda Reed, we also saw the Jean Akin and the Enid Dibert. In fact, the Enid Dibert was upbound and the Jean Akin was downbound. They passed each other under Huntington's East End bridge, with the Dibert between the Ohio shore and the river pier closest to Ohio and the Akin on the other side of that pier.

The best part came when I got home and started looking up background on the Linda Reed. I found this report from Marcon International about boat orders from some of the larger and more recognizable carriers on the Ohio River. The report said the Linda Reed is the first of four such boats ordered by Crounse for delivery between now and next March.

This report also said AEP is to take delivery of its next 6,000-hp towboat, the Hoosier State, in December. It also said AEP has ordered four 4,000-horsepower boats for deliver this year and next.

And Marathon Petroleum has four 4,000-horsepower boats on order for delivery this year and next.

So maybe if I get to stay in the Huntington area and work instead of relocating to a city that doesn't have a decent navigable river, there will be lots more new boats to chase in the coming months.

Any help locating them as they move into this area would be appreciated.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Archive search

I went through all my old slides today and found some gems. Lacking a scanner, I decided to see h0w it would look if I took a photo of a slide projected upon a plain sheet of paper. As I expected, not the best.

Anyway, here are two photos from my experiment. One is of a Halter (or Hartley) boat (I think) preparing the enter the old locks at Gallipolis in 1985. The other is an M/G boat downbound after leaving the locks around that same time.

Now the hard part is finding the ones most suitable for publication and preparing said publication.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

mv. Pennsylvania

A month ago I lamented how three old Ohio River Co. boats -- the Ohio, the Indiana and the Pennsylvania -- were tied up along the banks of the Kanawha River. Recently the Pennsylvania and the Indiana have been out on the river. Here is the Pennsylvania approaching the Gallipolis Locks and Dam this afternoon.

Since it was repowered, it doesn't sound the way it once did, but it's still nice to see her out and about.

Silver arches

On the way down the river today, I stopped at the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam (nee Gallipolis Locks and Dam) to see if there was anything interesting. Nope. As I was leaving, I saw the bridge connecting the dam piers in my rear view mirror and decided to get a couple of snaps -- one straight and one artsy. Here they are.

I've always liked the design of this dam, and not because I grew up close to it. The art deco (?) design goes beyond the more utilitarian design of modern dams.


Some things I notice because they've changed, but sometimes I wonder if it's just something that's always been the same but I've just never noticed it before. Thus it is with the great blue heron. In the past couple of years, I've seen several of these birds along this part of the Ohio River. I'm pretty sure they're new to the area, as I can't recall seeing many of them in the 1970s or 1980s.

Or maybe it's the same bird that gets around well.

It's hard to get a good shot of them when your longest lens is 150 mm. Still, I got this one about a year ago while I was at old Lock and Dam 27 waiting for the Delta Queen to pass by on its last trip down the Ohio. I have another photo in my collection of this bird on this wall with the DQ in the background.