Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Three years

We had an anniversary this week, and I missed it. May 28 was the third anniversary of the Ohio River Blog.

Will it be around another three years? Not if some Internet genius calls me up and pays me a scandalous amount of money for it. Until then, I'll be here, I guess.

Osage at Huntington

The Coast Guard buoy tender is overnighting here at Huntington WV tonight. I noticed it on a quick visit to the riverfront park and grabbed a few photos of the boat and the buoys.


Some things I hear about for so long that when they actually happen, I'm amazed. Like the new Louisville bridges.

Construction on one bridge will occur this summer. It may be only an access road and not the bridge itself, but it's a start. Now, I remember here in Huntington WV when approaches and piers for an Ohio River bridge (my favorite bridge, by the way) were built, the money ran out and several  years passed before the bridge was finished. And in Louisiana, I remember a bridge over the Mississippi River being built and then there was no money for a while to build the approaches.

Here's hoping the people of Louisville and southern Indiana don't have to deal with that.


This next story is about the possibility of using private money to help build a new bridge in Cleveland, but down in the story is a mention that the Ohio Department of Transportation is considering a similar plan to build a new $2.4 billion bridge next to the Brent Spence Bridge at Cincinnati.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cemetery talk

I spent part of Sunday visiting cemeteries in southern Gallia County, Ohio, where my ancestors and some of the people I went to high school with are buried.

At the Swan Creek cemetery I ran into a man who asked me about the headstones from the early and middle 1900s that I was interested in. I told him about how some of my river-working ancestors are buried there, and he began talking about how the Pinchen and Taylor families from England were the first to settle the area. He pointed to the river bank, just beyond the farm fields and the line of trees in the distance (the hills in the background are West Virginia).

He said until a flood of about 1885 (I said it might have been in 1884), most houses in the area were built along the top of the bank. After the flood destroyed those houses, people rebuilt on slightly higher ground back away from the river, he said.

He also asked if I knew that at one time people could walk across the river. I said. yes, people used to say the Ohio River was a mile wide in flood season and a foot deep in summer.

We discussed a little more local history before we parted. It was an afternoon when two people with differing interests in local river history swapped a little information.

M/V Dennis T. Delaney

The Ingram boat Dennis T. Delaney passed Huntington today. Here are a few photos.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Wake's up

The M/V Stephen T passed by Huntington lightboat at a pretty good speed, kicking up wake that was irresistible to this guy.

I didn't get to see him fall off his craft, as the splash was high enough to hide his fall.

Two down

The second of my three children graduated from high school yesterday. Here Joey, the one who gets so frustrated with me when I have to stop and get a river photo, receives his congratulatory handshake from Suzanne McGinnis Oxley, the president of the Cabell County Board of Education, while Superintendent Bill Smith, to Joey's right, looks on.

As I've said before, Joey might not have worn all sorts of ribbons and sashes and ropes, but he's an intelligent kid young man who works hard and has a strong sense of doing what needs to be done. He reports to Marine Corps boot camp in August. I'm going to miss him.

This afternoon, it's back to the river.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

No river chasing today

Adam and I won't be down at the Ohio River today looking for towboats to chase, for herons, for good angles to shoot oft-shot bridges. No, his older brother -- my older son, Joey -- the one who hates towboats, who gripes when we're driving along and have to stop by the locks to see if there's a good boat passing through, who can't understand why Adam memorizes where various boats were built -- graduates from high school today.

Maybe tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here's one Adam and I got earlier this week. It's the AEP Leader exiting the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam southbound with nine empties and six loads.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Slow boat to wherever

This evening I almost got a photo of the M/V Hoosier State. I noticed that it was in my area, so I went to downtown Huntington to get an idea where it was so I could grab a photo for Adam. I was surprised at first to see how slow it was going -- maybe 1.5 to 2.5 mph upstream. But I remembered that last Friday I saw the AEP Legacy easing downriver. Sunday, same thing with the AEP Leader. The Leader had just come out of the R.C. Byrd locks, but even after it had cleared the lock, it was going so slow that its wheel wash was pretty weak compared with what I'm used to seeing from those boats.

Why so slow companywide? Don't know. I know some Crounse boats have moved slowly in the past, but I'm not used to seeing these new AEP boats do that.


Kentucky and Indiana are close to setting tolls on the new bridges they want to build at Louisville. And they want to put tolls on the existing bridges, too, which makes sense, I guess.

No one likes tolls, but with even Ohio River bridges getting up into the billion-dollar range, something has to give.

I'm old enough to remember when you could build a good bridge for $15 million.

P.S. And notice the new bridge design is of the cable stay variety.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More on infrastructure

USA Today weighs in on infrastructure problems in the USA, including mentions of problems at Ohio River locks and dams.

This is one of several articles I've seen in recent months that talk about the need to rebuild or rehabilitate the navigation infrastructure on the inland waterways, especially the Ohio River. But this stuff is out of sight of the public, and having all that 9/11 security that keeps people away from this infrastructure keeps it out of the public mind. So for now, navigation infrastructure is like the weather. A lot of people talk about it, but no one does anything about it.

A death at Dashields

A woman died Sunday when the personal watercraft she was riding with another person went over the Dashields dam near Pittsburgh. She was caught in the turbulent water below the dam. Unlike other Ohio River dams, Dashields is a fixed-crest dam. There are no piers or wickets, and it can be hard to see from upstream. According to this article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the man operating the craft said, "I didn't realize I was that close."

I remember back in the 1970s or 1980s, I was sitting on the riprap right below the Gallipolis Locks and Dam. I saw a man standing on the base of one of the dam piers out in the river, fishing. Someone from the locks walked across the bridge connecting the piers and told the man to get in his boat and leave, which he did. I thought, that fisherman was either braver or more foolish that I hope to ever have to be.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ferry funded

Whenever I make one of my infrequent trips up the Ohio River to the Willow Island pool, I try to find an excuse to ride the Sistersville ferry. It's good to see the state of West Virginia has appropriated $100,000 this year for the ferry's continued operation.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fog and mud

It was a foggy morning by the Ohio River.

And one place I went walking and encountered these tracks. I assume this guy was wearing boots. I wish I had been so I could have walked a bit farther.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Salvaging a day

There was this plan, see, for a weekday day off that I had been looking forward to. I get up at 5:30 a.m. as usual so I can get Adam on the school bus by 6:10. As soon as the bus leaves the stop, I get in the car and head for a spot along the Ohio River where for a long time I've wanted to be at sunrise. But at 5:45, Adam hands me a paper in a by-the-way-you-might-want-too-see-this way. It says there's an awards ceremony at 8:30.

So I ditch the river plan and go see my youngest child get his medal for being an honor student.

Later in the day, I head down to the mouth of the Big Sandy River, as I've just crossed a bridge and seen the AEP Legacy in the distance easing itself downriver. I get to Catlettsburg, Ky., but before the AEP Legacy passes my spot, I see the Kyova ....

and the Garry Lacey ...

pass my spot. But the AEP Legacy gets there eventually.

Maybe tomorrow morning I can go to the spot where I wanted to be today. My older son, the one who doesn't like the river and who has enlisted in the Marines, has a pool function, and he has to be at the recruiting office at 6:15 or so. There's a chance I can get it done tomorrow morning. We'll see.

Oh, about Adam. His gym grade would have been better if he had been credited for steering a sternwheeler for three hours miles. His geography grade would have been better if they had asked for the names of locations of Ohio River dams and bridges. And his math grade would have been better if they had asked how long it takes the AEP Legacy to travel from Catlettsburg, Ky., to Point Pleasant, W.Va., while pushing 15 loads of coal, including an hour for locking through Robert C. Byrd.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Where's Solomon?

So let's try to sort out the fact in this story:

The Pittsburgh District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers needs to stabilize a lock wall at the Dashields Locks and Dam. To do that, it needs to improve an access road that is unusable because of a slip. Somewhere along this road is a park that cannot be used because the road is closed. The corps will repair the road if the township allows it to close the park at some point in the future when more permanent upgrades are made at Dashields. The body that governs the township will not approve an open-ended deal to close the park in the future, even if it is closed now. The township might get money from the state to repair the road.

I don't know anything more about the road or the park. All I can say is that stories like this make me glad I'm not a reporter covering local government anymore.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Soon. Soon.

I'm suffering from river withdrawal right now. So much to do at work and at home. But I have Friday off and to myself for the most part, so I have plans to get back to the river that  morning -- around daybreak if not sooner  -- and get some pictures I've been thinking about for a while.

If, that is, boat traffic cooperates. And the weather.

But we'll see.

And I can catch up n a lot of river-related news and stuff that I have had to let slide.

So it's less than 36 hours away. Yee ha.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Another blogger interested in the river

Another blog devoted to the Ohio River? Yep. A young feller by the name of Joel A. L. Thomas has started a blog called "An American River" to document his creative process while he develops a documentary film about our favorite river.

Back to the river

Work and other obligations have kept me away from the river for almost a week, but last night I was able to see the M/V Mike Weisend pass downtown Huntington at about dark.

The Weisend was followed by the M/V Zephyr, but by the time it passed me the light was too far gone to get a good picture of such a big moving target.

I'll be back along the river today, so maybe an opportunity will present itself.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Here's one magazine's look at the development of hydropower at Ohio River dams. It's a pretty good article, but I have to admit I liked the part in the first paragraph about watching barges "bob" in the Meldahl locks. I feel for the person who wrote this. Most of us who write for a living have picked the embarrassingly wrong verb from time to time. I remember when one editor asked my why I said the concrete sidewalk would have to be "shaved" to keep rainwater from running into a store. How, he asked, do you shave concrete.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Supermoon over Huntington

As has been noted here before, I'm not that good at nighttime photography, but I keep trying. Last night I went up on the bridge to see what photos I could get at the rise of the supermoon, as people were calling it. It didn't come up where I wanted, but that was why I was on the bridge. On land, you're pretty limited in where you can shoot. On the bridge, I had a quarter mile of movement where I could decide what the foreground would be.

The astronomical tables said the moon would rise at 8:15, but my experience has been that the tables can be off by 20 minutes at my favorite shooting spots here in the Huntington, W.Va., area. As 8:15 neared, I was joined on the bridge sidewalk by six other people. One of them was carrying a point-and-shoot camera. We talked for a while until I saw the moon faintly peeking up over some clouds on the ridge behind downtown Huntington. At that time, conversation was over.

Here are some of the photos I got. I played with the colors on a couple to see if that improved them. I'll let others judge that.

M/V Yvonne Conway

The Yvonne Conway passed Huntington at around dark this evening. Despite my camera not being the best at getting nighttime shots, I got a few anyway.

This last photo is not great technically. You can look at the boat and verify that. But I like it because of the way the wheelwash looks.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Thanks to the recent heavy rains enjoyed by people on the tributaries, the Ohio River bank is a nasty place today, at least the part that's not under water. So here is one from a few weeks ago, on a morning when the sky was clear and the river was low and calm.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A pink barge

Sometime today, Jeffboat was to have launched a pink barge for breast cancer awareness. Too bad the company that's going to be using it is one I seldom see on this part of the Ohio River. I would like to get a picture of it working.