Sunday, February 28, 2010

Boats photographed, February 2010

Boats I saw and photographed in February:

Capt. C.H. Guidry, Helen Lay, Kyova, James E. Anderson, Bill Stile, Joe T, C.J. Queenan, Milton, Nell, Ocie Clark, Neil N. Diehl, SuperAmerica, Donna York, Mountain Girl, C.D. Wilson, Danny L. Whitford, J.A. Ward, Michael D, W.P. Snyder Jr., Mary Harter, W.H. Dickhoner, Hoosier State, Texas City, Darrell Thompson, Floyd H. Blaske, Linda Reed, Tennessee Merchant, Taylor Renee, Melvin R. Todd, Louise S.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Old photos

I took my youngest, Adam, to a friend's birthday party this evening. While the kids ate cake and watched the birthday boy open presents, I got to thinking about a personal project I'm working on. So, I grabbed a couple of napkins and started writing notes to myself. Those notes got me to thinking about a photo album I keep in my living room.

When we got home, I got out the album, and Adam the rookie river rat had to see it, too. It's mainly a collection of photos of the Ohio River that I took in the mid 1970s to the middle 1980s. It has boats, bridges, weather, nephews and other such in it.

I was surprised at how some things haven't changed in the 30-plus years since some of those photos were taken, and how some things have. Just as the Chevy Chevette, the Ford Pinto and the Dodge Omni have disappeared from the highways in these parts, so too have some boats left the Ohio River: Capt. Jack Loomis, Kelly Lou, H.E. Bowles, Lesta K, Allied-Ashland, Aetna-Louisville and the old Valvoline among them. Also the Mississippi Queen and -- closest to me for personal reaons -- the C.T. Jones.

I saw the Winnie C, the Omar and the Kay H, which operate elsewhere and are seldom seen around Mile 300 anymore.

There were photos of the old locks at Gallipolis, and boats passing through Greenup.

As Adam looked at the photos, I told my wife that I know which of my three kids will want my photos when I'm gone. I just hope, I added, that he can wait that long.

I took those pictures for personal interest and in hopes I could use them in a project some day. That day is nearing, and I'm glad that I have the problem of having too many photos to choose from. Eventually I'll need a good scanner to deal with the hundreds of slides that I shot, too. Those photos are even better than the prints that Adam saw.

The pictures were from a much different time in my life. I didn't think then they would need to marinate for 25 years or more before I could use them in the way I wanted. But maybe soon I can share them.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Two photos made despite muddy river banks

This is not a good time of year to go down to the river bank and look around or to take pictures. The mud is very soft and very deep. You take a couple of steps in it and your shoes weigh an additional pound or two. Even the grassy areas are very muddy.

Even the concrete areas close to the river are covered in mud left by the high water of a few weeks ago. There's no incentive to clean it off. Few people launch boats this time of year, and it's more than likely the places will be under water again soon, so why bother?

Having said that, I can still stand along roads and other public spaces up off the river bank and try to get photos. Here are two from earlier this week.

First, here's the mv. Floyd H. Blaske as it comes up the Ohio River, approaching the 6th Street bridge (actual name, the Robert C. Byrd Bridge). In the background is the West 17th Street bridge (actual name, the Nick Joe Rahall II Bridge).

Then, with a snow squall flying as darkness falls, the mv. Linda Reed heads downstream toward Huntington. A few minutes after this was taken, the Reed met the Blaske.

O Trash, Where Art Thou?

A fellow who goes by the handle towboatin46 posts some pretty good river photos on his Flickr site here.

A day or two ago, he posted a photo of the Green River at the mouth of the Barren River in Kentucky. You can see it here. I post the link because I don't lift other people's pictures.

What struck me about this photo is the lack of old tires, milk jugs, Mountain Dew bottles, Bud Light bottles and cans and the other types of trash and refuse that you find along the banks of the Ohio River. Towboatin46 posted some other photos from along the Green River, and you see little if any trash in them, either, at least compared with what I'm used to seeing on the banks of the Ohio.

So here's a tip of my hat the people of Kentucky for keeping that trash out of the Green and Barren rivers, at least upstream of the spots where towboatin46 took his pictures. I sorely wish people in the Ohio River watershed upriver of Huntington WV would do the same.

But when you consider the vast amounts of litter you see along roads in this area, I'll have to wait a long time for that wish to come true.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A couple of news items today

Two news items from this area caught my interest this morning:

The creeks that flow into the Ohio River in my neck of the woods are more contaminated with E. coli than the river itself, a high school junior has found, according to an article in The Ironton Tribune. The student's work grew from a science fair project, and he presented his findings at an American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. Cool.

The W.P. Snyder Jr., after having been relocated to South Point OH from Marietta OH a few weeks ago, is in the drydock at McGinnis Inc., and workers have started work on its new hull plating, according to The Independent of Ashland KY.

Adam and I saw the Snyder in the drydock at least twice in the past few days when we went to Catlettsburg looking for particular boats. Check out this photo on my Flickr site.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

R.I.P. Becky Thatcher

The showboat Becky Thatcher is history. It collapsed in on itself and cannot be repaired.

Another piece of history gone.

I've never seen a real showboat, but my mother told me once or twice about the time she was on one. She was born in 1915 and died in 1993. The boat tied up in the Swan Creek area of Gallia County, Ohio, I think. I never got its name or any other information. It's another in a long list of regrets we all carry, I suppose -- not getting the details of events in our parents' lives while they're still around to share them.

Back in action (updated)

The main lock at the Greenup Locks and Dam re-opened to traffic today. To me, that means two things:

1. The news article I was writing on the locks had to be rewritten.

2. The mv. Hoosier State was able to get through the locks shortly afternoon. Now I know what Adam will want to do when he gets home from school at 3 p.m. We'll probably start our search in the Kenova area. The problem is that I don't know how fast the boat is traveling. I'll check the AEP boat locator site right before we leave to get some idea, assuming it's updated by then. ... I can tell you that my camera battery is in the recharger. It should be fully recharged by the time Adam throws his backpack and coat on the floor. We're still working on that.

UPDATE: We got it as it passed Catlettsburg KY.

We almost got another new boat -- Crounse Corp.'s Paula Ruble -- in the same shot, but the Paula Ruble stopped and tied up at or near the AK Steel coke plant at Ashland before it got to Catlettsburg.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

At the mouth of the Kanawha

The Neil N. Diehl of Ingram Marine has just dropped some barges at the mouth of the Kanawha River, less than half a mile from the Ohio. Photo taken this evening from the sidewalk of the Bartow Jones Bridge.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A few thoughts

1. The Ohio River here at Huntington was a nice color this evening -- sort of a greenish gray, or a grayish green. It contrasted nicely with all the snow on the banks and on the hills. I'm more of a spring and summer guy than a winter guy, but for a few minutes at a time I can enjoy the sight of snow everywhere. But it's getting to be too much.

2. This past weekend, I had to go to Gallipolis OH for some family matters. While there, I went up to Mound Hill Cemetery and enjoyed the view of the Ohio Valley. You have an unobstructed view for miles and miles up there. It was the first time I'd been up there when snow covered everything. It looked great, and I got some nice pictures. I even saw a towboat with snow-covered barges going upriver. It's one of my favorite spots along the river.

3. I've done some number crunching, and I might post the results tomorrow.

4. Did I say I'm ready for winter to end? I've changed my radiator water in a 60-below wind chill because the stuff froze on me on my drive to work. I survived the coldest night of the century (minus 18 or something like that) in a house with little heat, and I walked most of a mile to get stuff for the family after the Blizzard of '93 blew through. Those events were in and out, over and done quickly. This winter has dragged on and on like none I can remember since the late 1970s. I'm weary of fighting the cold and the snow.

5. My job prospects might be improving, or they might be about to go into the tank. I have a lead on a job in the media, and another possibility in a different field could be opening. A third possibility is that I'll be doing temp work soon -- I can  type pretty fast, I think. This recession is brutal for us job-hunters.

Boats photographed, January 2010

Paula Ruble, Jincy, Mary Lucy Lane, Wally Roller, W.H. Dickhoner, Sylvia H, W.T. Tourtant, Mary Ellen Jones, James E. Pinson, Norman L. Snodgrass, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, Louise S, Ashland, Vernon C. Smith, Charlie Melancon, W.P. Snyder Jr., Oliver C. Shearer, Gate City.

Some of these boats were photographed while moving through floating river ice.
I have photos of about a dozen other boats that I could not identify, mostly because they were so far away my camera could not get clear images of their names.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A snowy morning

I had to drive from Huntington WV to Ironton OH to talk to someone about a job possibility, either now or in the future. It just would have to pour down the snow. But it did make for some decent pictures, even if ...

Remember kids, if you turn the autofocus off to get one picture, be sure to turn it back on when you take a different picture. Otherwise what could have been a nice picture of a towboat passing downtown Huntington on a snowy day will turn out blurry.

This photo, too, is a bit out of focus, but it makes the point. The 6th Street bridge (techncially, the Robert C. Byrd Bridge, but a lot of locals prefer the old name) is usually green except for the part where the 16-year-old paint job is fading. Today, it was white.

This was U.S. 52 in Lawrence County OH between South Point and Coal Grove. At this point, snow was coming down and winds were picking it off the hills and blowing it around some more.

But you could see the two bridges connecting Ohio with Ashland KY. I didn't see a lot of snow accumulating on them.

Here's the Ironton-Russell Bridge, which turns 88 this year. You can see some snow on it. The sidewalk is closed, so you can't walk up on it. The ramp in the foreground leads from downtown Ironton up onto the bridge. You have to make a 90-degree left turn to get onto the bridge itself and go to Kentucky.

On the way home, I crossed the Nick J. Rahall II Bridge (known locally as the West 17th Street bridge, again by local who prefer old names). I saw an Ingram line-haul boat down at the barge fleeting area. I shot more than a dozen photos with a wide-angle lens hoping to get one decent one. The bridge is a two-lane job that connects two four-lane highways. (It's a long story. Don't ask.). There's no sidewalk, and it has an unprotected berm of maybe two feet in width.  I had to shoot through the passenger window while driving as slowly as traffic allowed to get this shot.

I'm not certain of the male of the boat, but judging from the boat locator on the Ingram site, it might be the mv. Ocie Clark.

Anyway, that was my morning.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Reflection of Rome Township, Lawrence County, Ohio 2/12/10

I thought about doing some quirky things with this, but why not let the image speak for itself?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Catlettsburg, barges, snow

On a snowy day, the mv. Kyova moves two loaded barges of petroleum product upriver at Catlettsburg KY harbor.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Towboats photographed in 2009

Here is the list of towboats I photographed last  year, by month. Some of the pictures were pretty good, and some are pretty ... well, at least we got the image.

January: Stan Humphreys; Lelia C. Shearer; Dixie Leader; Michael J. Grainger.

February: City of South Point; Pocahontas; John J.D.; Mountain Girl; Yvonne Conway; Craig E. Philip.

March: James F. Neal; SuperAmerica; Barbara; James E. Anderson; Tri-State; Pamela Dewey; Charleston; Buckeye State.

April: D&R Boney; Harllee Branch Jr.; Marlin (?) Price; Nell; Ohio; Indiana; Pennsylvania; West Virginia; Milton; Dr. Edwin H. Welch; Capt. Ed Harris; Tensas; Orleanian; Jincy; Peter Fanchi; George King; Ronald E. Wagenblast; Dreama Klaiber; Jean Akin; Sandy Drake.

May: Capt. Bill Stewart; Michael J. Grainger; Enid Diberrt; Speedway; Tri-State; Buckeye State; Mary  Harter; Tom Cook; D&R Boney; Valvoline; City of South Point.

June: Champion Coal; Harllee Branch Jr.; Wally Roller; William E. Porter; M.K. McNally; Tensas; W.H. Dickhoner; Nell; Mountain State; Barbara; Milton; Speedway; MAP Runner; Senator Stennis; Tristan-B; Mark-M; Captain Merdie; Garyville; James R. Morehead; Sam M. Fleming; Nancy Sturgis; Ginger Moller; Bill Stile; Marian Hagestad; Craig E. Philip.

July: Garyville; AEP Mariner; Andy Mullins; Miss Anne; Nell; Ohio; Indiana; Pennsylvania; C.J. Queenan; Senator Stennis; Jeffrey A. Raike; Jean Akin; Tennessee; Janet Johnson; Ocie Clark; Yvonne Conway; Tri-State; James E. Anderson; Chuck Zebula; Tennessee Merchant; Sylvia H; Miss Doris; Nancy Sturgis; Osage; Mountain State. Others: Belle of  Cincinnati.

August: Pennsylvania; Linda Reed; Jean Akin; Jincy; MAP Runner; Mary Ellen Jones; Louisville; Kyova; Christopher M; Sylvia H; Wally Roller; Richard Seale (Richard Cenac); Texas City; R. Clayton McWhorter; AEP Mariner; Chuck Zebula; Catlettsburg; Captain Merdie; Franklin-B; Dru Lurette; Oliver C. Shearer; James R. Morehead; Senator Stennis; Mountain State; Tri-State; Craig E. Philip.

September: The Admiral; Harry R. Jacobson; Clarence G. Frame; James F. Neal; Miss Doris; Mountain State; J.S. Lewis; Tennessee Hunter; Osage; Earl Franklin; Valvoline; Enid Dibert; Donna York; D&R Boney; Pamela Dewey; Kyova; Hamilton; Lenard; Bill Holman; Jeffrey A. Raike; Bill Stile; Jackson H. Randolph; R. Clayton McWhorter; Jimmy Brown; Noble C. Parsonage; Linda Reed; Nancy Sturgis; Aubrey B. Harwell Jr.; Mary Artie Brannon; William E. Porter; Lee Ann Ingram; SuperAmerica. Sternwheelers: Laura J; Hobby III; Pearl Anne; Lauren Elizabeth; Princess Margy; Donna Rae; Katie H; Henny Cook (?); Rufus B II; Pickett Hastings.

October: Speedway; Tennesse Merchant; Stephen T; Winchester; Janet Johnson; Catlettsburg; Mark S.; Darrell L.; James E. Anderson; Donna York; Marge McFarlin; AEP Leader; Capt. Gerald Boggs; Wally Roller; AEP Mariner; Linda Reed. Others: Nina; Pinta.

November: Buckeye State; Chuck Zebula; Bill Stile; Mary Harter; James E. Anderson; Leonard L. Whittington; Charleston; Detroit; Robinson; Winchester; Linda Reed; Pennslvania; Speedway. Sternwheeler: W.P. Snyder Jr.

December: AEP Leader; Ned Merrick; Nan; D&R Boney; Oliver C. Shearer; M.K. McNally; Jean Akin; Phillip Sporn II; Norman L. Snodgrass; Jimmy Brown; James R. Morehead; James E. Pinson; Noble C. Parsonage; Marge McFarlin.

Locomotives of 2009

I'm about to post a list of towboats and other river vessels that I photographed in 2009. Before that, allow me to put up a list of locomotives I shot last year. These locomotives were either crossing the Ohio River on a bridge or were running on a line along the river.

From what I hear, there are people as passionate about spotting every locomotive out there just as there are people who want to see every towboat. To them I say, here's my list, such as it is.

February: CSX 657, 538.

April: CSX 2294, 8974, 8078, 8802, 1552, 2231, 2457, 5436, 5257, 6246, 4802.

May: NS 9359, 8463.

June: NS 9442, 9193. CSX 7616.

July: CSX 8517.

Aug: 2656.

September: 2606, 9772.

Counting pictures

With the house quiet, I decided to compile a month-by-month list of towboats and locomotives that I photographed last year. So far I've gotten through June. My rough count is 50 different boats and 18 locomotives.

The hard part will be the last six months, as I kicked into high gear when I lost my job in May. Plus my photo editing software won't show me July, meaning I have to use back doors to see those pics.

I'll probably post the lists in case anyone is interested in seeing which boats I saw last year.

If I get ambitious, I'll get a guide to birds of West Virginia so  I can compile a list of birds that I got photos of. I know I have turkey vultures, Canada geese, swan geese, a Muscovy duck and pigeons, and maybe a black vulture that Adam and I found dead on the side of the road. The question is exactly how many species of ducks we photographed. The number could be as low as three and as high as 10. We don't know ducks. Yet.

I can tell you that we photographed three Ohio River dams -- Greenup, Gallipolis and Racine -- and we took pictures of every bridge from Pomeroy to Portsmouth -- 12 in all, although we did not get a decent photo of the Sciotoville railroad bridge. We were able to get a photo, but not a good one.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Two more for the archives

Two AEP boats -- the Mountain State and the AEP Leader -- were in the Huntington area today, so Adam and I went looking for them. We didn't find them, but around dark we found two others we did not have pictures of. They were the Capt. C.H. Guidry and the Helen Lay. So we have two more for our picture collection.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

TV footage from Greenup

If you want to see some video about boats waiting at the Greenup Locks and Dam, check out this story from Channel 3 in Huntington.

I'm pretty much stuck at home this week trying to figure out which way is up, but all arrows point down.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Greenup photos

The Huntington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has posted photos of the mechanical problems that have forced closure of the  Greenup Locks and Dam on the Ohio River. You can find them here.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I was looking through my archives tonight and found this photo of the Gen. James M. Gavin Power Plant at Cheshire, Ohio. I could write a long, long piece on this place, but my musings took me far from the plant itself.

A lot of people here in the Huntington, W.Va., area think of this region as an education center or a medical hub. Perhaps true, but more than that it's a region that is heavy into energy.

If you draw a circle with a 50-mile radius with Huntington at its center, you come up with maybe six big coal-fired power plants, four gas-fired power plants of varying sizes and several hydroelectric plants on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers. You have an oil refinery and several natural gas pipelines. You have businesses devoted to making machinery to service coal mines.

And none of that counts the coal that moves through here via barge and rail.

A few months ago I found some maps of the largest power lines in the three states of this region, and I was surprised how many of them come through the Huntington WV-Ashland Ky-Ironton OH area.

It's one of those things that is easy to overlook, you know? Energy companies don't draw a lot of attention to themselves normally. But it's something people in my part of the Ohio River valley need to remember every now and then.