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.


michelle said...

That's interesting, and a really good point. When I think of the biggies in this area, I do think of coal, which means the river and rail lines, and now that you mention it it's odd that the power plants don't enter my mind too.

I used to always think of the plants (steel, carbon, the refinery), but as the local economy has gotten more...depressed, I guess is the word,for some reason those just started slipping my mind.

Really interesting. I do have some pictures of some of those plants, but not nearly as many as I do of the river or trains or bridges.

michelle said...

Oh, and I just remembered! That goes back pretty far, too, doesn't it! The Hope furnace? And the one at Vesuvius. Weren't there some in Greenup, too?

Iron furnaces, right? I know those go way back, but I even those tie into the river and rail access? How far back do the rail lines along the river go? Any idea?

ohio981 said...

Not yet, but I'll probably come across it soon while researching something else.

FWIW, the first bridges over the river in this area were railroad bridges. There have been several highway bridges built and demolished since the rail bridges were built.