Sunday, July 31, 2011

Evansville is ... what?

I've been to Evansville once in my life. That was in 1986. It's the fourth-largest city on the Ohio River, after the big three of (in order of river mile) Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Louisville. I have impressions and images of those cities, but Evansville? I wasn't in the city long enough to get an impression. I remember seeing a dredge out in the river channel that day, and I've looked at navigations charts to get the idea that the channel there is narrow and, if I read things correctly, there is no bridge across the Ohio within city limits.

I got to thinking about that this morning when I read this on the Courier & Press Web site.

So now I'm thinking of cities that I know little about but have strong images of. Paducah, for example, has to be the A-Number 1 river city along the Ohio, with Point Pleasant WV in second. Cairo? It's image is not the best, unfortunately.

I want to visit Evansville, Paducah and Cairo again in the near future, if I can scrape up the money for a trip. I'd like to see the Paducah riverfront from the river if possible. I want to walk the streets of Cairo for a little while. When I visited Japan a decade ago, I was given a guided tour of Hiroshima. I turned down the tourist sites (other than the A-bomb stuff) and instead wanted to see the malls and other places where people gather. The same with Cairo and the same with Evansville.

Maybe I'm wrong about Cairo. Maybe it has an underserved bad rep. I just don't know. It's like Huntington, W.Va.,where I live. The big-city journalists parachute in to get their Jane-Goodall-with-the-chimps moment, write up something using all the stereotypes in the book, and leave. Maybe it's the same with Cairo.

As for Evansville -- and no offense intended to my reader(s) there --  I have to say I have no image other than a city that's large by Ohio Valley standards. It's there, and that's it.

On to the Utica shale

Last week in my day job, I noted how drilling for natural gas and fracking in Marcellus shale was very profitable for two of the larger players in  that industry in West Virginia in the second quarter. Included in the earnings release for Chesapeake Energy was an announcement that the company is investing heavily in Utica shale in Ohio. This article came from the quarterly Q-and-A with analysts and goes into more detail.

What will it mean economically and environmentally for the upper Ohio Valley? I don't know, of course, but it will be interesting to see how the residents of eastern Ohio react compared with those in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York who live near or are involved in Marcellus shale development.