Monday, August 2, 2010

mv. Mary Ellen Jones

Shortly after we saw the mv. West Virginia at the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam on Saturday, Adam and I found the mv. Mary Ellen Jones waiting downstream. Both are owned by Madison Coal & Supply, and both are from the Dravo 3200 series, but Adam noticed differences in them -- the pilothouse windows, the lower deck windows, the radar masts and the smokestacks, among others. Oh, to be young and observant again.

Here are three photos I made:

No surprise here

On Saturday or Sunday, my 10-year-old river fan son, Adam, and I were talking about boats in the Marathon Petroleum fleet. I was mentioning how Marathon had sold the Tri-State to make room for the new boats it had ordered, and I said it had advertised the Marathon and the Ashland for sale.

We agreed  that the Ashland would probably end up in South America, mainly because of its age and size. There's more of a market for older American boats on the Parana River than there is for them on American rivers.

So what greeted us last night but a message from someone saying the Ashland was seen in New Orleans being prepared for a trip to South America.

Perhaps the Ashland, Ohio, Indiana and a few other boats recently sent to the other side of the equator will show up eventually on Gustavo Di Iorio's photostream on Flickr.

Back in print

James E. Casto, my former colleague at the Huntington newspaper, wrote a book a few years ago about riding an Ashland Inc. towboat up the river and back. Now it's back in print. Here's the news release:

After a Decade, Ohio River Book Back in Print 
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- The University Press of Kentucky has republished TOWBOAT ON THE OHIO, a book by James E. Casto. Originally published in 1995, the book has been out of print and unavailable for the past 10 years. 
To get a close, personal look at what it's like to live and work on the Ohio RiverCasto arranged with Ashland Oil to travel on one of its towboats, the Paul G. Blazer, as it made its way from Huntington to Pittsburgh and back. The result was a book that recounts not just a narrative of his trip but also the colorful history of commerce on the Ohio, along with stories about the communities that grew up along the river and were nurtured by it. 
“Although parents aren’t supposed to have favorites among their offspring, often they secretly do,” says Casto. “And in that sense, TOWBOAT ON THE OHIO is my favorite among the dozen or so books I have done. Fifteen years after its publication, I still get letters and e-mails from people who have found it in their local library or at a used book store and want to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed it. That being the case, I’m delighted that the University Press of Kentucky is again making it available.” 
Casto was a reporter and editor at The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington for more than 40 years before he retired in 2004. He’s the author of a number of books on local and regional history. 
The new paperback edition of his TOWBOAT ON THE OHIO is being printed using print-on-demand technology. “Print-on-demand,” explains Casto, “is exactly what it sounds like – the ability to print as many or as few books as needed at any given time. In fact, computerized print-on-demand technology enables publishers to print one book at a time if they are so inclined. This is proving an ideal way to bring back out-of-print books such as mine.” 
TOWBOAT ON THE OHIO can be ordered from University Press of Kentucky at, from or from the author at The price is $25, plus $5 for postage and handling.