Monday, January 31, 2011

107.8 degrees

Is 107.8 degrees too hot for the Ohio River? The U.S. EPA thinks so.

The Ohio River downstream of the J.M. Stuart power plant in Adams County, Ohio, was measured at that temperature, leading the U.S. EPA to tell the Ohio EPA (a state agency) to correct that situation.

This from an article in The Columbus Dispatch.

I missed the Omar

It was in the Greenup pool today while I was out of town. Now it's at Greenup waiting to lock downbound. I haven't seen that boat in maybe 20 years, when it was owned by Ohio River Company. It was one of my favorites because of the way the engines it had at the time shook the windows of every building it passed.

Maybe I'll get to see it in 2031.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

mv. Kentucky, sighted at last

Marathon Petroleum's new towboat, the Kentucky, has been on the river for several weeks, but I haven't been able to see it, thanks to the weather, my work schedule and its work schedule. Today Adam and I got to see it -- more or less -- when we made a stop at Catlettsburg, Ky., during the first towboat chasing expedition we've been able to have in several weeks.

We got lots of photos today. Some of them were good. We'll post more as we edit them.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Quarry fight in Kentucky

There's a legal battle going on in Meade County, Ky., over a limestone quarry. The Courier-Journal of Louisville has the latest.

The part I find interesting is this part, from the bottom of the story:

The quarry would be one of several in what’s known as “quarry alley” about 45 miles west of Louisville. The area’s high quality limestone is valued by electric utilities, which use it as the key ingredient for scrubbing sulfur dioxide from smokestacks.

While the limestone is used to reduce acid rain and lung-damaging air pollution, mining has flattened hills and left deep scars.
According to Bell and some of his neighbors, the mining is wrecking the rural and scenic character of an area known as Big Bend.

That's something I would like to check out in person.

Discontent on the Mon

People on the Monongahela River are talking about how they need their locks repaired as soon as possible, meaning before the estimated date of 2030.

And here's something I didn't know: Coal is hauled by train from mines in Virginia to the Huntington, W.Va., area to be loaded onto barges and taken up the Mon. How 'bout that.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ironton-Russell Bridge replacement plans moving forward

The Ohio River bridge connecting Ironton, Ohio, and Russell, Ky., opened in 1922. It was the first highway bridge over the Ohio between Wheeling and Cincinnati. For years, the state of Ohio has tried to replace it. Now it has a new plan, and the contract to build a new two-tower cable stay bridge could go out to bid on Oct. 1. Here's one newspaper account of those plans.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fog and tree

Taken earlier this month along the Ohio River at Huntington, W.Va.

I took a lot of pictures earlier this month and stockpiled them because I had the feeling that later in the month I wouldn't get many river photos. Considering the weather and my work schedule, I was right. For once.

Not much left of the Becky Thatcher

The Beaver County Times has this story updating salvage operations of the remains of the showboat Becky Thatcher.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Here's one I shot several weeks ago.

It's okay, but it's not my favorite image of this type.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Two months past due

I'm not talking about my electric bill. Rather, this boat was in the Catlettsburg KY area a couple of months ago. Adam and I shot it then, and I meant to post it before now, but I never got around to it.

I'm pretty sure this is the Beau Blessey. There was a similar boat there that day on the other side of the river, but we didn't get its name.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another boat to chase

It looks like AEP has a new boat on the water. The AEP Future is on the Lower Mississippi River, probably at the fleet at Mile 159. When it gets up this way, Adam and I will have to chase it.

One person's thoughts on the future of coal

By far most of the cargo moved on the Ohio River in my area is coal. Thus, I try to keep an eye on the coal industry, I don't follow it religiously, but I try to find news items that pertain to the transport of coal.

Having said that, here is one blogger's take on various predictions on the future of coal, including power generation. I didn't go to the links the blogger included. And I'm not endorsing her opinions. I offer this link for those who might be interested.

Cross-border pollution

Canada has cleaned up its act. Now the people of Ontario would breathe better air if the factories and utilities in the Ohio River Valley would stop burning so much coal, according to this story in The Windsor Star.

Bioengineering a solution to riverbank erosion

From The Courier-Journal in Louisville: The people who run Chickasaw Park in or near Louisville are taking a different approach to combat the erosion problem that's common along the Ohio River. They're using willow trees.

They're placing 50-foot strips of willow in trenches on the bank now, while they're dormant. In spring, the willows should sprout and use their root systems to hold the bank in place.

It will be interesting to see if this bioengineering approach works. The people who thought this up said they wanted to avoid using large rocks -- riprap -- because they have no habitat value.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

mv. Bill Stile and a late summer / early fall sunset

For some reason I can't explain, I like to see the Bill Stile. Here it is taken on a beautiful evening from the Ohio River bank at Huntington, with the area just below Proctorville, Ohio, in the background.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Marathon is looking for deckhands

I don't know what goes on individual companies, and I don't read the print versions of newspapers outside a certain radius of Huntington, W.Va., where I live, but I do get to wondering sometimes.

For the past several weeks, Marathon Petroleum has been running display ads (which can't be cheap) in the Huntington newspaper at least advertising for deckhands. The ads say the company needs people to work on its big boats -- the ones where you're on 28 days and off 28 days. Whether they're also looking for people to work the boats that pretty much stick to the Catlettsburg harbor, I don't know.

Adam has asked me why I haven't applied. I have to tell him that I'm in my 50s now and not suited anymore to the physical demands of that job. You have to carry some heavy stuff. Now if I could cook ...

Anyway, Marathon says it's accepting applications until Jan. 21. So if you know anyone who wants to give it a try, check out

This is in no way an advertisement for Marathon or an encouragement for people to apply. I'm just reporting what I'm seeing and commenting on same -- nothing more. Comments wanting to praise Marathon as the greatest place to work or criticize it for being the worst ever will not be approved.

Thoughts about the old Ohio River dams

A reader comment on an earlier thread got me to thinking. He asked if any readers of this blog used to work at Lock and Dam 13 on the Ohio River.

A long time ago, I knew the man who was the last lockmaster at Lock and Dam 26, which was replaced by the Gallipolis Locks and Dam in 1937.  That dam had an interesting history, and its powerhouse remained in place until the Corps of Engineers started work on the replacement canal there in the 1980s. I have several pictures of that building, whose presence I still miss when I drive on the other side of the river.

Also, one of my best friends from my single days introduced me to his father, who I believe said he was the  last lockmaster at Lock and Dam 21. He locked the gate for the last time when the old dam was replaced by the Racine Locks and Dam.

(Trivia: I thought L&D 21 was the only one of the old wicket dams that didn't have a beartrap, but I just checked some old charts and saw that L&D 48 didn't have one either.).

And that got me to wondering how many of the people who worked at the old dams in the Huntington and Pittsburgh districts of the Corps of Engineers are still around. The last ones would have been replaced in the early 1970s, meaning the workers would have to be in their 60s now at the least. The old dams in the Louisville District were replaced later. Smithland, I believe, began raising its pool in 1980, which was only about 30 years ago. And dams 52 and 53 are still in operation.

It was a great day in 1986 when I got to walk all around Dam 52 unescorted. I had called a person at the Louisville District who I had had many phone conversations with before. I told him I was going to be in the Paducah area and asked if I could visit Dam 52. He said sure. He called ahead to let the folks there know I was coming, and I got the run of the place, taking all the pictures I wanted. Watching and photographing a tow locking through 52 was much different than doing it at Greenup, Gallipolis or Racine. Perhaps even in post-9/11 America I can do it again before the day in unknown years to come when 52 and 53 are removed following completion of the Olmstead Locks and Dam.

And on the rare occasions nowadays when I can venture far from home along the river, I'm always on the lookout for the old powerhouses and residences at the old dams. Some in this area have been preserved and put to other use, whether public or private. Some have been demolished. They were all interesting pieces of architecture, and I value the photos I have taken of them in their newer lives.

Somewhere in a box in my basement is a photo of the buildings at old Dam 21, taken in the early 1980s during my frequent trips up that way, where my friend lives. The buildings were demolished shortly after I took those photos, making them that much more valuable.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More on eagles

Here's another news article about bald eagles being seen and counted along the Ohio River in West Virginia.

If I get the chance before spring, I'll try to get a picture, but I'm not optimistic about my chances.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ice near the shore

This time of year, I tend to go down to the river and see if there are any interesting ice formations along the shore. Here are a few I found on Sunday.

At Wheeling

Kudos to Gary Zearott, whose efforts are leading to some repairs to the lights and such on the Wheeling suspension bridge. More here.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I'll be on the lookout for this critter

A bald eagle has been spotted near the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam on the Ohio River. Back in the 1970s or 1980s, I had heard a pair was nesting in the area, and I heard that some good old boys wanted to be the first person to shoot one. Soon after, I heard nothing more about eagles in the area.

I hope this one has a better fate.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Snow ...

After a busy and stressful week, I was planning to relax by the Ohio River today. But last night we got just enough snow to make everything slick, and there's no sign of a snow plow anywhere near my road. Maybe tomorrow. ...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fetching water?

Seen the other day. This is one of those things where I guess what the guy is doing and figure the real thing is either a lot more interesting or a lot less interesting than what my imagination comes up with.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Light posting the next few days

New posts will be infrequent the next few days. I'm adjusting to a bit of a change in my life -- nothing bad -- that's eating into time that I used to put into this blog. Check back in a day or two for something new.