Friday, December 24, 2010

mv. Linda Reed, 12/24/10

To quote a John Hartford song (at least, this is how I remember it; my copy is on vinyl, and I don't have a player):

That muddy water never quite runs clear
When I try to give a reason why I want to be here.
Ain't you got no family? No place to be
But out on the river on Christmas Eve.

About 20 years ago, when I was a newspaper reporter, I did a story on people who had to work on Christmas. Among others, there was a guy who worked at a steel mill in Ashland, Ky. I probably had a paragraph or two in there about people who work on the line haul river boats.

I thought about that today as Adam and I saw the mv. Linda Reed coming down the Ohio River today at the K.H. Butler boat ramp in the Swan Creek area of Gallia County, Ohio. It's at Mile 285 or thereabouts, about a mile above Glenwood, W.Va. We got a few shots of the Reed as she passed.

First, the Reed as it approached our position. We haven't had much precipitation in the past few days, winds have been calm and river traffic has been light, so the river surface was smooth before the first of the Reed's 15 coal barges loaded to 10 feet came past. Thus, the boat is partially reflected in the river, too.

The lead barges looked really good reflected on the water's surface. The West Virginia hills did, too.

The Reed has passed us and heads downriver.

Finally, here's how the river looked before the Reed came by. We're on the ramp looking down toward Glenwood. My great-grandfather operated a ferry somewhere around here in the late 1800s, I've been told. In the early 1900s, there was commerce between these two sides of the river. But as vehicle traffic moved to bridges and ferries went out of business, the connection between these two sides of the river faded away.

I saw the Reed a few hours later, still several miles above Huntington. At its speed, the Reed probably didn't pass Huntington until after dark. I have no idea what if anything happens on most boats when Christmas Eve falls. I just hope they had a good evening, whether they observed Christmas or not. And you folks, too.


Anonymous said...

I strange thing just happened,as I was reading your blog about the Linda Reed,I looked out the window and the Reed was passing by the house here on Christmas day at 1:20pm.In 1961 I started on the river as a deckhand for The Ohio River Company. There were four of us on each watch,all the ORC boats would tie up no matter where they were from 6am to 6pm., this was in our UMW contract at that time. Two women cooks would have a special Christmas dinner for the crew.I'm retired now,but as I watched the Reed go by from our warm home here on the banks of the Ohio,I reflected back to my younger days on the river. During my first five years I would always volunteer to work Christmas and New years so men with familys could be off with them. Things have really changed on the boats since then,Christmas is just another day for them now.Its no wonder line haul companies have such a big turn-over with young deckhands.It takes a special young man to become a true riverman. May God bless and keep all the towboat crews safe during the coming year.

Granny Sue said...

I like the way the coal on the barges echoes the shape of the mountains--nice.

I also enjoyed the first commenter's note. I bet he'd be interesting to talk to.