Saturday, August 31, 2013

Family over river

We had a chance to tour a Dravo Viking today, but we didn't. We went to a family reunion up in the mountains of West Virginia. It had been a while since my wife had seen some members of her extended family. Sometimes family trumps river, I guess.

On the way there, we passed through the community of Omar. I told Adam how the community got its name from a mining company. He asked if that's where the towboat name came from. I said it was where the old sternwheeler of Ohio River Co. got its name, and from there the new Ohio River Co. boat built in the early 1980s and now the property of Ingram.

Adam said he likes the name "Omar" the best of that particular class of boats. He said he didn't know why Ingram or someone changed the name of the Omega to the Erna E. Honeycutt. He said he liked the name Omega better. I didn't argue the point.

Anyway, if anyone knows of a chance he can get on a Viking sometime, please pass the word along.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

M/V D.A. Grimm

As seen from both sides of the river.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Thoughts in a cemetery

Today on my way down Ohio Route 7, I stopped at the Swan Creek Cemetery, where my mother is buried. She passed away 20 years ago this week, and I still miss her.

While I was there, I checked the dates on the grave markers of her parents and her paternal grandparents. My mother was the only one of the four children in her family who was born on land. The others were born on the Ohio River. I saw the grave of my grandfather, who had a dish boat, and my great-grandfather, who I am told operated a ferry near the spot where he is buried. He died in 1902, so the ferry would have run in the 1800s.

The idea of the ferry got me to thinking how bridges had changed the interaction of communities on opposite sides of the Ohio River. Around here, there were no highway bridges across the Ohio until the1920s, so if you wanted to cross, you had to take a ferry. From what I gather, there were several ferries. But they weren't as glamorous as the packet boats and the early towboats, so I have seen relatively few photos of them.

Around 1909, one of my ancestors was killed by a train as he slept off a drunken Saturday night along a railroad track. His obituary said at the time of his death, he was building a barn in Glenwood, W.Va. That's across from Swan Creek Cemetery. I thought of him as I stood near my great-grandfather's grave and pondered how communities on opposite shores must have had fairly close economic ties in the days of ferries. With easy access to autos and bridges now, those ties are long gone. I know of no interaction ever between the people Swan Creek and of Glenwood unless they work at the same factory in the Huntington WV or Point Pleasant WV areas. There's little reason for them to. There's a convenience store in Glenwood, but people in Swan Creek can drive a few miles down the road to one in Crown City, or to the Dollar General store there.

Is that way elsewhere along the river, where communities on opposite shores once had people taking the ferry back and forth, but now they almost don't know the other exists?

It's one of those things I think about when I have too much time alone, but not enough time to go look up the answer in someone's genealogy chart.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Olmstead $

I had heard that the Olmstead Locks and Dam project was way over budget and way behind schedule. When Adam and I were in the Paducah area over Memorial Day weekend for a family wedding, we took off for a few hours one morning so we could look around the lower river. We stopped at the post office in Olmstead and got directions to the project, and this is what we saw:

Considering the weather and where the sun was, it was not a good morning to get pictures, but it was a good day to see how much had been done and how much remained.

Here's an article in The Courier-Journal of Louisville on the status of the project. Whether Mitch McConnell and Dick Durbin have the ability and/or the desire to keep the project going I have no idea.

All I know for sure is that these big public works projects get more and more expensive. When it costs a billion dollars to build a bridge over the Ohio River, you're talking real money. And that's apparently nothing compared to the cost of building a new locks and dam from scratch.

And a tip of the hat to Richard McCoy of Huntington for sending the link.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Off topic: the 1955 Packard Clipper

Does anyone else on here like old cars? I saw this one in my neighborhood a few weeks ago, but it's gone now.

As far as I can tell, this was a 1955 Packard Clipper, possibly the last Packard design sold. Packard held on as a brand name for a couple more model years, but in their last days Packards were just Studebakers with a Packard badge on them.

The 1955 Chevy was pretty hot. The '55 Ford was pretty cool, too, and so was the 1955 Plymouth owned by a guy I used to work with. He takes it to car shows, and it looks ... neat.

Imagine a 12-year-old boy riding in the family Packard while his friends rode in Chevys and Fords.

Maybe a car enthusiast I know as right, and this car might be better off recycled as razor blades. I hope not. Maybe someone can restore it or use it for parts. Cars like these need to be in car shows. We see enough 60s-era Camaros and Mustangs. I want to see a Packard Clipper or a 1974 AMC Gremlin or a Chevy Vega or Ford Pinto. You know, the kind of cars people actually drove.


One other thing about this car that I need to mention. As with cars of its era, and into the 1970s, it had a chrome-plated steel bumper. Fuel economy and the 5 mph standard wiped them out, and fiberglass and plastic bumpers took their place, I think.

Here in Huntington WV, we had a plant that made chrome-plated bumpers up to the end. I remember having to go to the plant gate the day the company announced the plant was closing because no one was buying its product anymore. By that time, the only workers left were the old ones with a lot of seniority. With that being more than 30 years ago, I doubt many of them are alive, if any.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Columbia River fantasy

One of these days I'm going to make it out to the Pacific Northwest again, but this time I'll visit the Columbia River. Things are different there. The barges draft 16 feet and they're of a different width than Ohio River barges. And the covers are different, too.

Because of that, the towboat pilothouses are raised higher than ones on Ohio River boats. And the exhaust or air intake stacks are a sight to behold, too.

I've never seen them in person. I have to do it through the Flickr photostream of captaintimb.

Maybe I need a Kickstarter campaign to raise a few hundred dollars to pay for the trip. I already know of some real news items I could write about some issues and controversies involving Columbia River navigation, mainly how a lot of folks out there don't want to see coal on their river at all.

But check out captaintimb's pictures. If you watch Ohio River boats, you might find these interesting, too.

The M/V Earl Franklin and the M/V Milton

Two Amherst Madison boats doing some dredging at the Gallipolis Locks and Dam.

Okay, so it was renamed the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam a long time ago. That doesn't mean I have to give up the name I grew up with, does it?

And what do folks on the lower part of the river call the John T. Myers Locks and Dam? Does anyone still call it Uniontown?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

M/V Steven J. Mason

One of our favorite boats, partly because it's a former turtleneck that was rebuilt, and partly because we know one of the guys who works on it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Out of the Kanawha

A lot of coal that moves on the Ohio River comes from docks on the tributaries. In my part of the river, that means the Kanawha and the Big Sandy.

Here's the Donna York bringing 12 barges out of the Kanawha on a fine afternoon.

You might be able to notice the barges are loaded to 10 feet. From what I've seen, 9 feet used to be the norm. Now it's 10 feet. On a jumbo barge, that extra foot is worth about 200 tons.

That's because a barge is 195 to 200 feet long. Let's go with 195 here. The barge is 35 feet wide. Each foot of depth displaces 6,825 cubic feet of water. One cubic foot of water weighs slightly less than 62.43 pounds. Thus, every foot on a coal barge displaces about 426,085 pounds of water, or about 213 tons.

So, those 12 barges pushed by the Donna York were hauling about 2,556 tons more at 10 feet than they would have at 9 feet.

Did I get all that right?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Facebook let me down; Blogger didn't

I wanted to post this picture on my personal Facebook page, but despite three attempts, either Facebook or my Internet service provider wouldn't let me.

So here it is, the big old Marathon Petroleum Co. towboat Kentucky as seen this evening on the Kanawha River.

There's a story about why I took this picture at this spot. After I typed it three or four times while trying to load the picture, it got more boring with each telling. So forget why I got this picture and just enjoy it if you can.

One of the boring parts of the story is why I shot this with a cell phone and not a digital SLR. But who really cares, you know?

Nameboard in black and white

This is the nameboard of the M/V Charleston, one of the prettiest boats you'll find on the Ohio River. The boat's exterior colors and black, white and gray, so it was a natural fit to convert the original image to black and white to see it compares.

Pretty good, I think.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A winch and a memory

When I worked for the daily newspaper in Huntington, WV, I remember reading a story that a young reporter wrote. The story described how an SUV was found in a nearby lake. According to the story, first responders used a wench to pull the SUV out of the lake. That's how it was in the printed version of the paper. I just wonder where the cops found a wench strong enough to do that.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

From out visit to Metropolis

While we were in Paducah over Memorial Day weekend for a family event, Adam and I decided to visit Metropolis, Ill., which is just across the Ohio River. Adam wanted to get a picture of me in the town square, so I figured why not?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Off topic: Huntington's Memorial Arch

Along Fourpole Creek in Huntington WV is a walking trail. On the other side of the street from the creek and the trail is Memorial Arch, built in the 1920s as a scale model of the famous arch in Paris. It was built to honor those who served in the Great War, as it was called then.

On this July day, a large flag hung from the inside of the arch. The arch faces west, so I allowed the late afternoon sun to light up the flag. And this is what my camera saw.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A barn oft photographed

I don't know who owns this barn or how old it is or anything like that. All I know is that this is one of the most photographed barns in my part of the Ohio River valley, mainly because of that Mail Pouch sign. It's along a busy two-lane road and it has CSX tracks in front of it. It faces east, so the best time shoot it is in the morning. I've gotten it in sunshine, rain, fog and snow. Wide angle and close up. I guess I'll keep taking pictures until there are no more angles and weather conditions to exploit.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

American Queen visits Point Pleasant WV again

This is one of those pictures you get from the bridge. With no sidewalk. In a construction zone. In traffic. In a light rain. You drive and the other person shoots.

The AQ is making several stops in Point Pleasant this year. The city has a great place for the boat to dock, and it welcomes the passengers and their money, so why not?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Interesting stuff decklands get to play with, Part 2

I must live  in the wrong part of town. I was looking at this the other day and wondering what a person could get for it at the scrap metal yard. Bu it's not copper, so  ...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Something missing

We got this photo of a boat leaving the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam downbound in late June. Notice anything unusual about it?

Right. No name on the stern, the pilothouse or the tow knees. From the Internet, we gathered that this was the Lydia Brent.

I don't know what was going on. We just thought it was unusual.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Donning the vest

My 13-year-old son, Adam, and I were in Marietta, Ohio, yesterday for the open house of the AEP towboat MIke Weisend. We met up with C.R. Neale, whose family owns a marine business down the river at Vienna, W.Va. C.R. gave us the tour of their operation. As part of that, Adam had to put on a personal floatation device.

He loved it. Adam wants to work on the river, and putting on the vest, visiting a drydock and getting on board two or three boats there was the highlight of his week. Being on a boat is his second-favorite place in the world. His first favorite is anywhere he can be with his five-month-old niece,  but that's another story.

Now that I look at the picture larger, it's a little off plumb. Oh well.

What a month

Yes, I know I've been gone for a while. Have you ever had half your staff t urn in their resignations in one month? It's what happens when you hire a lot of young people at once and the market starts opening for them two  years later. You hire them at once and they leave at once.

That was my July. Oh, my granddaughter got cuter and more demanding, too.

To avoid another lull in posting, I've gathered some photos that should have been put on here or that I took last week, and I'm spreading them out  over a few days. The first one goes up later today.

I'll still be posting as news warrants, but  I hope the photos keep you interested for a while until I can go back t o 40 hours a week at my job  again.

The first photo post goes up today at noon, by the way.