Saturday, October 31, 2009

Two good boats made for one fine day

It was a good day for chasing towboats. First, the AEP Mariner was in the area. For a long time, I've wanted to shoot a boat pushing 15 loads of coal upbound past Huntington WV. I have several boats doing that downbound, but today was the first time I could do it with a boat going up the river. Three things made it less than ideal, however. The light was low because of the clouds and the time of year. The foliage on the river bank was not what I wanted. And the river was not mirror smooth. But I'm keeping it, anyway.

Adam and I also shot it going under the East End bridge. We took it from a different location than usual so we could get a better -- at least, a different -- picture.

And we saw the Linda Reed in the area. Curious, Crounse sends the Linda Reed up this way maybe once a month, but never the Janis R. Brewer.

This evening, Adam and I checked boat locations, and we saw the Buckeye State is headed up this way. We have no way of knowing if it's going to pass Huntington or turn before it gets here, but we'll follow it. Adam is peeved that he has not seen the Buckeye State or the AEP Leader yet. Maybe we can scratch one peeve off his list.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Swan geese and bagels

My daughter is happy. This evening, the two feral swan geese that live at Harris Riverfront Park in Huntington WV came up to her and ate a bagel out of her hand. We'd never seen them come close to a human before, let alone eat out of a person's hand.

Framed by withered leaves

The leaves that remains on trees are withering, so I thought I'd see how my favorite Ohio River bridge looked framed by some. This is what I saw.

Out of the Guyandotte

In  a few days, maybe, the Guyandotte River at Huntington WV will be covered with fallen leaves. There are a few on the river now, mostly along the shores. When the river is covered with leaves, it's a pretty sight.

If you stand up on the bank, you can see leaves out in the Ohio River. You can use the leaves to figure out where the current of the Guyandotte gives way to the Ohio.

At other times of the year, usually after a heavy rain, other objects mark the boundary between the Guyandotte and the Ohio. When  the Ohio goes down, it leaves those objects on the bank of the Ohio right below the mouth of the Guyandotte.

The Guyandotte River is maybe 170 miles long and runs mainly through five counties in West Virginia -- Wyoming, Mingo, Logan, Lincoln and Cabell. The amount of trash and litter that comes out of the Guyandotte testifies to ... you know.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

mv. Tri-State in the rain

I was going through some photos I shot this past summer and found this one. It's the mv. Tri-State of Marathon Petroleum heading upriver under the Silver Memorial Bridge in the rain on July 29. My 15-year-old son, Joey, held an umbrella over me so I could shoot the boat as it passed by Tu-Endie-Wie park in Point Pleasant WV.

Shooting in the rain gave an overall gray cast to the photo and blurred some of the fine details, but I didn't mind. I liked it anyway because of the rain-induced imperfections. The mood fits me some days, you know?

I'm thinking about a series on my 10 favorite towboats, and the Tri-State would be on the list.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pomeroy-Mason Bridge remembered

While going through some old photos today, I noticed that it was one year ago this morning that I walked across the Pomeroy-Mason Bridge for the last time. Actually, I walked across it several times that day, getting plenty of photos of the old bridge and the almost finished new bridge next to it.

The sidewalk was several inches above the roadway, and it was made of boards. The morning was brisk and sunny. It was a wonderful day to document the last days of an 80-year-old bridge.

The new bridge was finished and opened a couple of months later. The old bridge was demolished earlier this year. It was one of the few remaining pre-1950 steel truss bridges in this part of the Ohio River. We still have the Ben Williamson Memorial Bridge at Ashland KY and the Ironton-Russell Bridge at Ironton OH. And that's about it, I think.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dirty river

More on this later, I hope, but I'm a bit tardy getting this much up.

A group called Environment Illinois has released a report of which rivers receive the most toxic waste discharges. The river that receives the most is -- not really that big of a surprise -- is our own Ohio River.

News release is here. You can follow the links from there.

Delta Queen loses one (UPDATED)

Oh, well, time to look in another direction. A Congressman's attempt to put the Delta Queen back on the rivers was rejected by leadership. That's not surprising, though. 

UPDATE: Here's a link to a piece I wrote in the Huntington newspaper about a year and a half ago.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Delta Queen

Could the Delta Queen run the rivers again? Maybe, but it would have to go against some mighty strong currents. There is a labor fight involved, and the new operator would have to find enough business in this economy, particularly when people prefer oceans to rivers. But you never know.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

mv. AEP Leader

AEP's newest towboat, the mv. AEP Leader, passed Huntington WV well after dark on Friday night, but I was able to catch it when it came back down this morning.  Here are a few pics.

Next up, the mv. Hoosier State.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Madge McFarlin

While taking a kid to grandma's house this a.m., I saw the Ingram boat Madge McFarlin. This was taken from the Ohio side between Crown City and Miller.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Black vulture sighting

I may  have seen a black vulture flying low over my house today. I had heard they were in this part of the Ohio Valley, but I had not seen one myself.

Cap-and-trade for the Ohio River

Cap-and-trade on coal-burning power plants gets all the attention, but a similar program is being developed for water pollution, too, including the Ohio River. More details here.

I'm just starting to look into this, so I have no opinion on it yet. If I were at my old job, I'd spend the better part of a day reading about this and making phone calls and writing a nice, complex, detailed piece. Should I do it for this blog?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Becky Thatcher leaves Marietta (updated)

The showboat Becky Thatcher has left Marietta, Ohio, for its new home in Pittsburgh. Flickr user gb_packard has some pretty good photos of the old boat leaving Marietta on his photostream, which you can see here.

My mother was born in 1915, and she was old enough to remember when showboats stopped along the part of the Ohio River where she lived.

UPDATE: Flickr user wvtowboater posted some pictures, too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

AEP Leader

Adam turns 10 next week, and American Electric Power just gave him a birthday gift. Adam didn't expect to see the new towboat AEP Leader until November, but the Corps of Engineers movement reports say the boat is in the Markland pool headed this way. Assuming it's on its way to Lakin WV or one of the power plants in the RC Byrd (Gallipolis) pool, the AEP Leader could be here before the weekend, depending on how many boats are backed up at Greenup when it gets there.

If the AEP Leader is around here in daylight, Adam and I will have to get a few pics.

Monday, October 12, 2009

W.P. Snyder on the move (updated)

For years, I've thought about going up to Marietta OH to see the old steam-powered towboat W.P. Snyder, which is on display as a museum piece. Now I can wait for it to come down the river. According to an AP story, the Snyder will be towed to South Point OH soon for repairs.

That's another boat Adam and I will have to chase down the river.  Because it's to be repaired at South Point, we should be able to see it from Virginia Point Park at Kenova WV or from various places at Catlettsburg KY.

UPDATE: The Snyder's jurney down the river could begin Wednesday, according to the Marietta Times.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Overhead, again

This is the Darrell L passing Huntington WV, the latest in a never-ending series of overhead shots of towboats. 

Coming soon: brands of beer and soft drinks preferred by litterbugs in my area, plus a photographic look at Ohio River mud.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Columbus in West Virginia

The Nina and the Pinta are in Huntington for a few days. The boys and I went down for a look and to get a few pics. Here are some.

I'm always amazed at how sailors crossed the oceans on these things in the 1400s and 1500s.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Not much going on with the river around here, so I thought I'd dig a few fishing photos out of the summer/fall collection. I don't like to fish, but I like getting pictures of people who do.

Now it's back to the business of looking for work while seeing if grad school is a viable option.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"60 Minutes" on coal ash disposal

After finishing the Cowboys-Broncos game today, I turned the channel to CBS to see what was on "60 Minutes." I got there two or three minutes into a piece by Leslie Stahl on coal ash impoundments at power plants.

Considering the number of coal-fired power plants along the Ohio River, particularly in my home part, the piece interested me. I wasn't impressed with parts of the piece, but I'll not nitpick it right now.

Before my job as editorial page editor of The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington WV was eliminated, I had written two editorials about the topic. One was in January,  and one was in May. I was planning some original reporting on this to comment on the topic in greater depth, but then came word that I didn't work at the HD anymore.

Before writing the first editorial, I got on Google Earth and looked at the John Amos, Gavin and Big Sandy plants from above. I knew there were large landfills and ash storage sites associated with them, but seeing the photos gave me a new perspective on it. And I was this close to getting a tour of the Amos operation to see everything there.

The thing is, a lot of bad stuff used to go up the stacks and into the air. As they used to say, the solution to pollution is dilution. I was at Gavin in October 1984 when Greenpeace showed up to protest acid rain.

When the bad stuff couldn't go into the air anymore, it had to go into ash ponds and landfills.

I could go on, but I don't want to violate my "no politics" rule right now. When you talk about coal, politics seeps in.

Jackson H. Randolph at dusk

It's been pretty quiet on the river lately, so I figured I'd pull  out this photo I took one evening last month.

It's the mv. Jackson H. Randolph, formerly known as the James C. Justice. A few details make this an okay photo instead of a really good photo. But I'll keep it anyway.

I remember taking a lot of pictures of the Justice in the 1980s, including several when I found it tied up along the Ohio bank just below the Gallipolis Locks and Dam. One of these days I'll scan and post them, maybe.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Another invasive species

There's a new invasive species moving up the Ohio River, according to an article in The Parthenon, the student newspaper of Marshal University. The fish is the silver carp, and it's made it up as far as Cincinnati.

The article mentions algae growth. Speaking of which, this summer was good for algae growth in the river. I saw more here in the Huntington area than I'm used to seeing.