Saturday, April 27, 2013

Still busy

One of these days, things in my life will slow down a bit and I can spend a few hours catching up here. But my duties at work will be hectic for at least another week, and there's that granddaughter I have to pay attention to a few nights a week. Meanwhile ...

If you're looking for some good drawings of towboats, check out Barry Griffith's work. Here's one that I found really, really good. Make that really, really, really. And no, I don't receive a cut or any other compensation from any sales of his work, or anyone's work except those of my employer through my regular salary, so any endorsements here are genuine.

And I have a niece in third grade in a state far from the Ohio River. She sent me Flat Stanley so he could see this area and tell her classmates about it. Naturally, I had to take him to the river and show him the skyline of beautiful downtown Huntington, West Virginia.

Today Flat Stanley might get a look at the Big Sandy harbor at Catlettsburg, Ky. and make a side trip to Ironton, Ohio. I hope he's not as reluctant to cross the 91-year-old Ironton-Russell Bridge as his cousins Adam and Hannah are.

We'll just have to see, won't we?

Flat Stanley has to leave for home Monday, so he'll have to get the rest of his river tourism in today and tomorrow.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

M/V Nashville Hunter

The Nashville Hunter passed Huntington this evening with an odd cargo mix. At least one of the coal barges was from Campbell, there was at least one petroleum barge from Marathon and another from, I think, CBC. Is that Canal Barge?

Anyway, here's the boat.

Sometimes I wonder what these boats would look like with another company's colors, like Ingram or Inland Marine. But they already look good the way they are, so I'll let that one slide.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

M/V Michael J. Grainger

It passed Huntington this evening upbound. To see a photo, click here.

Here and there

First, from Google Stats it looks like my, uh, fans in Russia had a great time on this blog yesterday. I had a much higher-than-average number of visits, and a lot were from the land of Tchaikovsky.

But seriously, folks, today I took Adam to his grandmother's for the weekend. On the way up the river, we saw the AEP Legacy downbound pushing empties and a boat we could not identify entering the Gallipolis locks downbound with what looked like coal loads. Adam said he figured from the look of the pilothouse it was a St. Louis Ship boat. From what I could find later, it was the Harry R. Jacobson, which is indeed a St. Louis Ship boat.

Also on the way up the West Virginia side, we saw the Charleston at O-Kan harbor at Gallipolis. It was between 9:30 and 10 a.m., and the light at the time made the white paint on the boat pop really sweet. Too bad it was at a spot where we couldn't stop and get a good picture. And we noticed a smaller boat over that was wrapped in plastic. Or so it looked.

I took the Ohio side home and saw the Kentucky upbound.

And that was my excitement for today.

And yes, this is a blog of much interesting. How do you do it? Come visit my blog at

Sunday, April 7, 2013

M/V Paul G. Blazer

If I have a photo of the Paul G. Blazer in my collection,  I don't remember it. Even if it's been on the river since the late 1980s, I can't recall having taken a picture of it .

Until today.

I was in Ashland KY today when I saw the Blazer approaching. So I went up on the bridge to get this picture.

So it maybe took me 25 years, but I got one.

Now watch me dig through my archives next weekend and find one.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Off topic: There were trains here, once

This afternoon I found myself in the village of Vinton, Ohio, near Gallipolis. I got to wondering about the old CSX tracks that went through here. They started north of town in another county, went south to Gallipolis and turned up the river until they met up with Conrail across from Point Pleasant, W.Va., and headed north toward Pomeroy. From there the tracks veered north toward Columbus, I think.

If memory serves, CSX stopped using the tracks sometime between 1978 and 1981. I remember seeing a an occasional train on them, and it was usually a short one. On a personal note, one of my ancestors died along this track in Gallipolis about a century ago after a Saturday night of heavy drinking. He apparently chose the wrong place to sleep it off.

The tracks toward Gallipolis have been turned into a walking and cycling path. Here in the Vinton area, not so much.

Standing where the old track crossed Dodrill Road, looking south toward Vinton.

On Dodrill Road, looking north.

As you can see, the old road bed remains clear of trees and such. The rails and ties were removed long ago, but a lot of the ballast is still in place. It looks like some sort of vehicle (ATVs?) might still use the old railroad right of way, but I didn't see any ATVs sitting outside in this area today. Or anyone riding one. Not one anywhere.

CSX and Norfolk Southern still have their tracks along the rivers in my area -- the Ohio, Kanawha, Guyandotte and Big Sandy come to mind. Growing up, I saw from time to time the trains on the old B&O line across the river, but I never thought much about them. That track became part of the Chessie System, later part of CSX.

When I was in college in Athens, Ohio, the Chessie tracks ran through campus, and it wasn't unusual for us to have to wait for trains to pass as we walked from class to our cafeteria. Every now and then someone would have to put pennies on the track to see if they really would make the train derail (they wouldn't). Once some friends of a friend decided to grab ahold of the ladder on a slow-moving boxcar. Before they got off, the train got out of town and sped up. It was an hour or more before the train slowed enough so they could get off and call someone to come get them. The first articles I had published in Ohio U. student newspaper (The Post), in 1975, had to do with efforts to get the Amtrak train that used the tracks to stop there in Athens.

But as with the Hampden-to-Gallipolis line, CSX abandoned its track between Parkersburg, W.Va., and Cincinnati.  In the early to mid 1980s, I saw an article and photo in an Ohio U. alumni publication that the rails, ties and perhaps even the ballast were being removed. The last time I was in Athens, I looked for signs the tracks ever exited but saw few. You would have to know what you were looking for to see it.

I never got into rail the way I did the river, but I try to follow what's going on with CSX and NS. I have noticed that coal traffic on the Ohio seems to be way down lately, just as coal traffic on the two Class I railroads around here has dropped of significantly the past two or three years.

As I stood along the old track near Vinton today, I thought about the trains that people no longer see. Perhaps half the people who live in the area can even remember the trains. I wonder if kids used to stand along the tracks and wave at the engineers. Or if many people even cared that the trains no longer ran.

And fifty years from now, if the coal-fired power plants along the Ohio have switched to natural gas and if coal is barely used as a a fuel, I wonder how people will remember the boats and traffic of today.

I won't be here to find out, but I will leave behind words and photos to document at least part of it.

My absence from the river

In case you're wondering why I've not posted anything lately, it's because I've had to spend some time with this beauty.

That plus there haven't been many interesting boats around when I was available, and I'm waiting for the trees to green up before I get out the camera again. But the main reason is my interest that's more homebound.

But I will be back out there this weekend looking for something to shoot or to talk about.