Friday, December 3, 2010

2010: That was the year that was

Okay, we still have most of a month left of 2010. But being an outstanding journalist, a clever thinker and a role model for future river rats everywhere, I figured I'd better get started on my year-end review. There may be another later. We never know when or where inspiration will strike. In this case, it was while I walked around Huntington while waiting for the repairs to my car to be finished.

Here, in photos, are some of the many things I remember about the Ohio River in 2010. I chose one item per month, and a photo to go with it. These are not necessarily my best photos of the year, but they do show the range of things Adam and I noticed.

On Jan. 10, the Ohio River froze over at Huntington. It didn't last long -- only a few minutes. But at one spot, I saw a thin layer of ice from shore to shore. The current carried the ice down the river. When it collided with the buoys that mark the location of bridge piers, the buoys won. Here is a buoy at the Robert C. Byrd Bridge acting as a stationary icebreaker.

I'll admit I enjoyed listening to boats moving through the water in these few weeks. The crunching of river ice against the steel barges was ... cool. Not as cool as what I heard at Clipper Mills, Ohio, in the 1980s, when large floes of ice ground against one another along the shore in a bend, but cool enough.

During the winter that I thought would never end, I was in Gallipolis, Ohio, and got this photo at Mound Hill Cemetery. It's one of my favorite river photos ever. I call it "Copper River."

In March I tracked the "junk fleet" up the Ohio River, getting some particularly good photos at the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam.

All but one of these boats -- the one that was supposed to have been doing all the pushing, but didn't, from what I hear -- were bound for a scrap yard near Pittsburgh. But I've been told they were all repaired and put back into service. Cool.

In April, Adam and I visited the Point Pleasant River Museum. Here Adam looks at a model of the Silver Bridge, which collapsed on Dec. 15, 1967, killing 46 people.

This model shows the location of each car that was on the bridge and the location of the joint that failed, causing the collapse.

In May we went to Rising Sun, Ind., for the christening of the new AEP towboat Hoosier State. We got a pleasant surprise when we were asked to ride the boat, and a bigger one when Adam was asked if he would like to steer it. That was the easiest question Adam was asked all year.

That's Adam getting his steering lessons from Joe Kincaid.

I spent part of June and later months looking at the trash and litter along the river. I call this one "Budhenge."

On July 1, the Hoosier State was in our part of the river, and Adam and I followed it from old Lock and Dam 28 up to the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam.

And in August, we followed the World War II ship LST 325 up the river. Here it passes Ashland, Ky.

September reminded me why I like sunsets along the river.

And October reminded me why I like watching the sun rise.

November gave us our last grasp on autumn, seen here at the mouth of Indian Guyan Creek (Mile 306).

One more thing. Adam likes towboats, but he also likes school buses, Freightliners, Ford pickups, the Mustang, the new Camaro and the new Challenger. And he has a thing for the Dodge Viper. After years of wanting to see one up close, he finally got to touch one, sit in it and even go for a ride.

Also this year, we grieved as the towboats Ohio and Indiana made their last trips down the river on their way to South America... Adam got his own digital camera ... we met C.R. Neale, Fran Mullen and lots of other river folks we met over the Internet ... and Adam enjoyed a care package sent to him by Barry Griffith.

And that is part of what 2010 has been to Adam and me here on our part of the Ohio River.