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.


mike said...

How will you prepare Adam for the fact that commerce along the river will die? Those in charge today are determined to shut down the coal industry.

Even if the other party wins in 2014 and 2016 it may be impossible to undo what has been done.

Ok, the rules are no politics, so I will not mind if you don’t post this comment. There is no other way to contact you.

Still it’s something for you to think about.

Thanks for the great blog. Oh, by the way, I see what you write from time to time - My Grandma was from WVA so I have a interest - you are a talented writer and newspaperman.
Palm Coast FL.

ohio981 said...

I wouldn't say river commerce is going to die, but it's certainly going to change. Market conditions are shifting the coal market away from Central Appalachian coal and toward Illinois Basin coal. Northern App coal is doing well, but I think I've read that it, too, will begin to decline in a few years. Meanwhile, the power companies have just invested billions into pollution control equipment, so they will need a couple of decades to amortize that investment.

Natural gas could very well take a good chunk of the coal market for power generation. Democrat or Republican, I think the long-term regulatory trend is Washington will be to nudge the nation away from coal.

While coal comprises most of the cargo on the upper Ohio, there are other commodities that move on the rivers, too. Grain, for example. Up there, petroleum products and chemicals, too. Eventually we'll probably see some container traffic move from the rails to the river.

I don't pretend to know what the next twenty years will look like, but I believe river commerce in that stretch is beyond the ability of any one politician in D.C. to destroy.