Thursday, March 22, 2012

M/V Fred Way (updated)

The Kanawha River is home to a lot of older, smaller boats whose main job is to push barge tows of up to nine barges up and down the river, some going to the largest coal-fired power plant in West Virginia and some to and from the Ohio.

One of those boats is the Fred Way, built in 1945 by Dravo Corp. at Neville Island, Pa. Its original name was the Buckeye, and it had several other names until September 1984. According to my copy of the Inland River Record, the handy reference book of towboat information, "Sold Jan. 1984, renamed Sept. 1984 to honor originator of this book in 1945 as well as a popular riverman..." Capt. Fred Way was a well-known and respected river historian up until his death 20 years ago this fall.

For towboat geeks, the Fred Way is about 146 feet long and about 28 feet wide. It's powered by two engines generating a total of 2,000 horsepower. It spends a lot of its time on the Kanawha, but it's a frequent hauler on the Ohio River, too.

This evening, as I left work, I decided to drive down to the Kanawha River to see if any boats were in the area. Now that we've moved to our new office, I don't have a window overlooking the river anymore. I saw the Fred Way heading down with nine barges, so I had to figure out where I would get a few shots. For about a year, I'd been wanting to shoot from the Patrick Street Bridge, so I figured this was as good an opportunity as any.

There's a lot in this first shot.

The boat in the background is the (I don't know; I never got a good ID, but it could be the Speedway)  of Marathon Petroleum, delivering a couple of barges of product to a terminal just beyond the blue bridge. That bridge carried Interstate 64 over the Kanawha, and in terms of traffic numbers is the busiest bridge in West Virginia. The railroad bridge in the foreground hasn't been used in several years. About a year ago, some folks who wanted to covert it for  use as a bike trail had an engineer look it over. It turned out that the bridge and its approaches needed several million dollars worth of work, so that plan was scrapped as far as I know.

About the Fred Way itself, because of its unique (as far as I know) design, it has several different -- perhaps even odd -- looks depending on the angle you view it from. This straight-on shot shows how large the front windows are on the pilothouse.

And here are other photos of the boat approaching the bridge and heading on downriver.

 I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I hope I look this good and am this useful when I'm 67 years old.