Saturday, September 24, 2011

25 barges heading up the river

This evening I dropped Adam off at a friend's house for a birthday party and sleepover. Said friend lives about a mile from the boat ramp at the Huntington East End bridge, so I went down there to see if there were any pictures to be had.

As I looked up the Ohio River, I saw a Dravo 3200 boat (or a Steel boat; please don't be too picky with me right now) and a smaller boat a mile or so up the river. I thought one was overtaking the other until I realized their relative positions weren't changing. That could only mean they were traveling together, and that probably meant a big tow.

I've seen a few oversized tows on the river before. Last year we saw the Jackson H. Randolph pushing 25 downbound past Huntington. Earlier this year, Adam and I went up the river to see the Lee Synnott pushing 29 barges. In August 2010 Adam and I saw the Linda Reed upbound with 25. And Adam and I saw the Chuck Zebula rebuilding an oversize tow in summer 2010 after it had locked through  Gallipolis downbound one evening.

The largest two I ever saw on the Ohio was May 8, 1988, I think it was, when an AEP boat pushed 30 empties from the Ohio into the Kanawha.

This evening, with the angle of the setting sun, I figured I had better go to the Ohio side, and the best place to shoot would be old Lock and Dam 27 above Proctorville, at about Mile 301. Because I had shot large tows from high angles, I thought I would try this one closer to the river.

That may have been a mistake. The sun was behind the boat, so the head of the two was in shadow, and it was a few minutes before I could say with confidence that the tow looked to be five wide by five long. And not being high (rather, not being up high), I couldn't confirm that. But from the angles I got at the side of the river, it looked like 25.

Also, I had to use a wide angle lens to get all of the tow in the frame.

Here's a guy standing outside the pilothouse, just looking around.

And the William E. Porter and the Stephen T side by side.

I assume the Stephen T was along to take 10 of the barges through the Gallipolis locks before or after the Porter had taken 15 through.

A minute or two after the boats passed where I was standing, the sun went behind the hill behind me. The letters on the  Porter's nameboard went from blazing gold to a dull yellow. I was about to leave, but I wondered if I could get one last decent shot from the upper end of the old guidewall. Well, what was standing up there but a heron.

I didn't want to scare it off, so I had to shoot from far away in fading light. As I took a few pictures, I remembered how I was at this same spot three years ago -- in the days before the Ohio River Blog -- getting photos of the Delta Queen on its last trip down the Ohio. One of the photos I got was of a heron on this wall with the Delta Queen in the background.

After the William E. Porter had passed my position, I figured it was time to head back down the river. I was losing my light, and by the time the boat got to the next decent shooting spot, dark would have set in. So I drove back down the river, absentmindedly made a couple of wrong turns and finding myself in traffic leaving the Marshall football game. But I did get to see this Lamborghini up close.

I'm glad Adam understands that on my salary, I can't afford a car like this. Right now I couldn't afford to replace a tail light lens on a car like this.