Thursday, November 29, 2012

Three things

The bridge that won't come down: City officials in Benwood, W.Va., near Wheeling are trying another tactic to get the private owner of an Ohio River bridge that's been closed for about 20 years to demolish it.


A bridge going up: The website for the Milton-Madison Bridge project provides information on what's happening with the bridge itself and with work on both sides of the river. And if you want to see what lifting a bridge into place looks like, check out this YouTube video.


Calliope: "American Cruise Lines acquired a 132-year-old Nichol steam calliope to be placed aboard its new 150-guest paddlewheeler, Queen of the Mississippi. The historic instrument, which originated from the Washington, a paddlewheel steamboat which operated on the Mississippi and Ohio River from 1880 to 1938, is being meticulously restored to full operation, and will then be installed aboard the Queen of the Mississippi."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Too many things working against me

Last night I almost had a good towboat photo. It was dark, and the water was smooth as a mirror. A boat was pushing two or three barges as it was about to go under a bridge. The spotlight was pointing off to the side, but at a certain angle the water reflected it like sunlight. But I didn't have my camera, and I was on an Interstate highway bridge with traffic going through at 80 mph and faster, so there was no photo. But soon I can be on the lookout again for another good nighttime river shot.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Low flow on the Mississippi

The Mississippi River from the mouth of the Missouri River at St. Louis down to the mouth of the Ohio River at Cairo is in pretty bad shape. The drought in the Midwest has reduced the river flow so much that barges are being loaded lighter and shippers are looking at diverting some product from barge to rail, according to this article from Business Week.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bridge memories

With the 45th anniversary of the Silver Bridge disaster coming up, another effort to preserve memories of the event is under way.

Friday, November 23, 2012

More than 11

After Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, Adam and I were the only menfolk in the house, and we were bored, so we went down to the parkfront in Gallipolis, Ohio, to see a boat go by. It was a Crounse boat, and to no one's surprise the coal in the barges was piled high. The lead barges of a 15-barge tow sat about 11 feet in the water. The back barges drew only nine feet.

But the barges in the middle of the tow were weighed down most. The "11" on the side was covered, and it looked like the gunwales were only a few inches above the water. Adam and I talked about how difficult it must be to steer a boat downstream like that, including how much distance you would need to stop it.

That's why pilots make big money, I guess.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a good day, y'all. The Ross family will be on the road to grandma's house today. If we see any cool boats or herons or whatever, we'll let you know, but for now, we'll check back in tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

No slowing down this year

Normally in the news business, this week marks a slowdown as the people we normally rely on to do stuff worth writing about start taking time off and getting things in line for a big push after New Year's Day. But this year is different. We've had all sorts of stuff going on this week, with today looking to be no exception.

But in the middle of all that, I can still go to one or two favorite spots and enjoy some quiet time before the weather turns cold and wet.

These are a couple of pictures taken straight from the phone camera with no cropping, editing or retouchingor whatever. I had to make a late run to the bank, so why not stop down by the river to see what was happening?

It was a good evening to spend a few quiet moments by the Ohio.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A $763 million bridge

It's not close to a billion dollars, but at $763 million, the new second bridge over the Ohio River at Louisville isn't coming cheap. But from what I've seen, bridges don't come cheap anymore. No wonder railroads keep theirs up and in operating condition for a hundred years or more.

You can always use a model of the Major

Bobby May said I could share this photo he has of his model of the sternwheeler Major.

It must be nice to have the skill and the patience to do something like this, although in my house I'd fear for its safety.

Thanks, Bobby.

The photo itself comes via Bryan Hughes. Thanks, Bryan.

M/V Ocie Clark in the early morn

After I dropped Adam off at school yesterday morning, I went down to the river, as I had about half an hour to wait before I needed to be somewhere. There was nothing much to see except what was left of the morning fog. This time of year, the river can be pretty colorless around here. As I was leaving, I saw something down at the bend that looked like a barge. Sure enough, a boat was coming up the river. Some of its barges carried coal, some carried scrap metal and some carried some white stuff I couldn't identify from where I was.

I knew it was an Ingram boat, but I didn't want to leave until I had made a positive identification. The boat turned out to be the Ocie Clark.

While the hills might not have had much color, the steam fog on the surface of the Ohio adds something to the scene.

Friday, November 16, 2012

You can never have too many pictures of the Major

Amherst Madison has three small sternwheel towboats that it uses to push barges on the Kanawha River. There's the Laura J, the Lady Lois and the Major. Lately the Major has been tied up at Haddad Riverfront Park in Charleston, W.Va., where workers are using a crane barge to do something or other with the boat docks there.

Tuesday, I posted something on Facebook that I was going to get some pictures of the Major, but I didn't want to be late for a mandatory meeting at work. Capt. David Smith and TV meteorologist Bryan Hughes replied that you can never have too many pictures of the Major. So here are a few pictures I got of the Major before I went into work on Thursday.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The $971.4 million bridge

A company from Chicago is the apparent low bidder on the project to build the new Ohio River bridge at Louisville, according to the Courier-Journal. Walsh Construction of Chicago said it could build the bridge for $971.4 million and have it open by Dec. 10, 2016.

Kentucky officials were pleased with the delivery date.

But a guy like me looks at the cost and thinks, almost $1 billion for an Ohio River bridge. Think of what the people who built those narrow bridges nearly a hundred years ago with private capital would have thought about a $1 billion bridge.

Indiana will open bids for its bridge at Lousville tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On the tributaries

According to The Associated Press, pollution related to gas well drilling is on the increase on the Allegheny River but on the decrease on the Monogahela River.

Asian carp update

Asian carp, the latest ecological apocalypse to reach the Ohio River, have been found in significant numbers in the McAlpine pool, all the way up to the Markland Locks and Dam, according to this report.

Zebra mussels were supposed to take over the river, too, but eventually ducks and other critters found ways to eat them. Perhaps a natural predator will step up and find Asian carp to be delicious.

Monday, November 12, 2012

An afternoon at Catlettsburg

I needed some time to enjoy the warm sunny Sunday afternoon in November, so I went to Catlettsburg, Ky., to see if anything was around. Two of the new boats that push for Marathon Petroleum -- the Marathon and the Nashville Hunter -- were at the Marathon dock, but positioned so there was no good photo available from the bank.

I did, however, see the Ingram boat Clarence G. Frame pass by slowly pushing 15 loads.

And I saw this diamond-like design that reminded me of things I drew on a Spirograph back in the 1960s.

A decent day, I guess. That evening I put my older son on the bus so he could return to the Marines for his infantry training. Adam is still around, though, so I will have a boat-chasing buddy from time to time while the weather lasts. But tonight is chilly and rainy, so we may have to switch to foul-weather mode for finding good river scenes. It's inevitable, but not necessarily enjoyable. But April is only four and a half months away.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

He got in my way

Did you ever plant yourself in a spot, waiting for a large, slow-moving object to get in the right position for a good photo? And then, right before the new Marathon towboat the M/V Marathon gets to that spot for your desired photo, you see a guy leave a nearby marina in a pleasure boat that's going to be right between you and the Marathon, blocking your view, and there's nothing you can do about it?

Adam wanted to give the guy on that pleasure boat a nonverbal sign of his displeasure, but I told him no.

Monday, November 5, 2012


I took my camera to work today. I didn't get anything on the way in. I figured there might be something river-related after work that I could shoot. I forgot that with the beginning of November and the end of Daylight Savings Time, it can get pretty dark out there by 5:30 p.m.

But there's always tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Busy and off line

Things have worked to keep me off line this week.

First, on Tuesday morning, when a heavy snowstorm was supposed to sock the higher West Virginia mountains hard but leave us in my area alone, we had four to six inches of wet, heavy snow in the area where I live. Power went out around 9 or 9:30 when I was out in my driveway with a neighbor and we heard three loud booms before our houses went dark. The power was still off Tuesday morning. Moral of the story: The next time the chief meteorologist at the TV station where I work gets excited about a storm, I can figure on at least two days without electricity.

Second, I had to leave home on Wednesday to travel down to Parris Island, S.C., to see Private Joseph Ross graduate from his Marine Corps basic training.

He'll be home a few days before he has to leave for his infantry training. It's good to have him back. The bad part is, now I have to move my stuff out of his bedroom.