Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Favorite towboats, part 5: The Dravo Viking class

It's funny how there's never a Viking around when you need one.

In the 1970s and 1980s, I got all sorts of photos of the Dravo Viking-class towboat on my section of the Ohio River. I was away for nearly 17 years. When I aimed my new camera at the river, it seemed the Viking boats had been replaced by other makes.

Yes, the R. Clayton McWhorter comes around every now and then. By coincidence, I found a photo I took of the boat in the 1980s when it was the Steel Rover, and it was taken in the same spot where I got a photo a couple of months ago.

Sometimes I see the Pamela Dewey or the Capt. John Reynolds or another Viking boat in this area, but not nearly as often as I would like.

My liking of these boats has nothing to do with their power, their handling, their durability or anything like that. Of those things, I know nothing. I only know that the Viking class boat makes for some good photos. I could fill a small book with what I have shot of these boats from various angles.

The down side of all this is that I really don't know much about the Viking class of boats. If anyone can point me to a library or an online resource, I would be much appreciative.

In the meantime, I'll continue looking for new angles and different lighting in which to shoot these boats. Their clean lines do a picture well.


Top photo: The mv. Pamela Dewey prepares to enter the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam earlier this year.

Here, the mv. R. Clayton McWhorter passes Huntington WV downbound this summer. My favorite bridge is in the background.

The mv. Capt. John Reynolds heads upstream past Huntington this past summer. That's the Proctorville OH area in the background.

And the mv. Neil N. Diehl has just left the Ohio River and heads up the Kanawha River, traveling lightboat on Christmas Day 2008. That's the CSX railroad bridge in the background.


One more thing. Where I grew up in the 1960s, most people pronounced Dravo as DRAY-voe instead of Druh-VOE. I remember the Dravo barge line, and I remember when it merged with or acquired Union Mechling and became Dravo Mechling. And now Dravo Mechling is gone, too.


michelle said...

I found your Pamela Dewey on this site:

in the now named column, not the original

jeffery said...

did you know that there are two viking class boats there is the short viking which is 140x42 and the other is the strech viking which is 168x42 and 168x50

ohio981 said...

Like the Winnie C?

If you or anyone knows of a good resource book on Dravo, I'd love to track down a copy.

jeffery said...

you can get a copy of the inland river record from the waterways journal it cost 43.00 dollars that includes s@h it has information on all boats currently running

Anonymous said...

The 168x50 boats were actually tripple screw Vikings. The first was the "Jason" now renamed Dan MacMillan and the second was "Argonaut" now named Andrew Cargill MacMillan. I was a welder for Dravo EWD and worked on the Argonaut as well as the Sunflower, Gladis B Flowers and many other Vikings. They are beautiful boats and still out perform many other designs.

Roger L. Powers said...

Wow, I didn't think I would hear those words again...Jason and the Argonaut! Used to work as a deckhand for Dravo Mechling on those boats...they were the pride of the fleet!

Anonymous said...

Even before the Vikings, Dravo built the classiest looking and best performing boats on the rivers. I started with Dravo Engineering Works Division in 1966 where these boats were built. The first one I was associated with was the Harlee Branch, Jr. now owned by Ingram Barge Lines. This was followed by boats for Ohio Barge Line and other companies.

Anonymous said...

Actually the Jason & the Argonaut are 190' x 54' and 5 decks above the water!

I grew up living on several boats (year round.. parents + 3 brothers) and would scramble like crazy to our pilothouse and plaster the binoculars to my face and stare at it (usually the Argonaut) until it was out of sight.

The boat we spent the most time on was one that we built (all but the skin of the hull). The controls for it (pneumatics) were given to my dad and they came from the towboat The United States... a quadruple screw.

Anonymous said...

Any photos of the old MV Steel Express ?

Previous seaman.

Anonymous said...

My dad who is now 76 worked for Dravo and follwing merge companies. I’ve heard him talk about the boats he rode and others. The argonaut, Jason, Daniel webster, navigator, mariner