Thursday, October 31, 2013

M/V Daniel T. Martin et al

I don't know who designed the particular generation of boats at St. Louis Ship ...

... but he gave us a fleet of nice-looking vessels. I don't know how they handle or how they ride, but they look good.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A couple of images

First, we were at a boat launch ramp in Point Pleasant WV Sunday afternoon and noticed all these trucks and trailers.

By the way, all but one of the trucks had Ohio license plates.

Today I saw the M/V Roger W. Keeney going up the river past Huntington WV. I wasn't able to get the shot I wanted or the second shot I wanted, so I settled for something a little different.

More tomorrow, if the weather and life both cooperate.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A good day

Today was the second day of a two-day minivacation. I needed some time where I had nowhere to be, no schedule to keep and no one to slow me down, so I drove up to Point Pleasant WV and back on the Ohio side. The day started pretty foggy.

I got some photos at a former coal tipple -- people under a certain age have no idea what those things were -- and some foggy photos of guys fishing on the Ohio side of the Gallipolis Locks and Dam, now known as the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam.

As far as boats go, I saw the AEP Future, the D.A. Grimm, the Daniel T. Martin, the Hoosier State and the Transporter. I got home in mid-afternoon ready to work on some photos when I learned I was on babysitting duty the rest of the night. She's asleep now, and her mommy should be by soon to pick her up.

I posted three pictures from today on my Flickr photostream. If I get ambitious, I might post another before getting some ready for this blog.

So enjoy, and I'll see you all later.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Gone from Point Pleasant

Adam and I were crossing the Silver Memorial Bridge yesterday from Ohio into West Virginia. As usual, Adam looked down the river to see what boats were at the Campbell Transportation dock. Not did he see no boats, but he didn't see the dock, either.

From what I've heard since, Campbell has decided to pull its operations out of Point Pleasant. The dock was where we got several good views of Campbell boats, and it's where two or three times a year I used to see one of the prettiest boats on the river -- the Amber Britany.

But things come and go. The Campbell dock at Point Pleasant was where G&C Towing was based. The company was owned and operated by a guy named Bosworth who died a few years ago. Campbell took things over, but it's apparently over now.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The summer of '85 ...

... and October, too.

Last night I found a couple of boxes of slides that I had misplaced. One was labeled "Summer 1985," although I'm sure a few photos are from fall of that year, such as this one. I may post a few of them on my Flickr photostream in the next few days.

This photo was taken at Tu-Endie-Wei park at Point Pleasant WV. This photo might have been from a warm October Sunday of that year. This is the M/V Mr. Jesse Barr of G&C Towing exiting the Kanawha River with several barges loaded with coal. I haven't seen the Mr. Jesse Barr in years, and G&C is another of those companies that was bought up as larger ones expanded through acquisitions.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Another view of Hannibal

If you'd like to see another view of the Hannibal Locks and Dam, check out this photo by Flickr user Lewie Osborne.

If anyone can give me directions on getting to this spot, or a similar spot overlooking the Simon Kenton Bridge (the old one) at Maysville KY or the Sciotoville (OH) railroad bridge, I will gladly accept them and give you a shoutout when I post the pictures.

Politics, media, the shutdown and the Ohio River

So the federal government shutdown is over. For now. We survived, somehow. It made us forget about the fierce urgent issues that must be addressed immediately for the survival of the republic and the free world. Gun control, immigration ... stuff like that. I guess we'll wait until the shutdown is dissected on the Sunday morning news shows before my peers in the national media decide what issue will be the next to drive us apart as we choose sides and identify heroes and villians.

But with the shutdown's end comes some news about ... the Ohio River, of all things. For me, it started with this basic news release that I read and thought, I'll have to put that on the blog this weekend. Here it is, from the Waterways Council Inc.

Arlington, VA – The passage of last night’s Continuing Resolution to fund the Federal government and raise the debt ceiling contained a provision to raise the 902(b) cap on the amount that can be spent on the Olmsted Project in Illinois to $2.9 billion from the current $1.56 billion.  The measure does not appropriate funds, but allows work on the critically important project to continue.   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers informed the Inland Waterways Users Board in August that the Olmsted project would be shuttered in November 2013 and would displace 400 workers if Congress did not act the raise the cap. 

In response to the Corps’ announcement, the Senate-passed Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill, the House Water Resources Reform Development Act (WRRDA) bill, and the FY 2014 Energy & Water Appropriations bill all contain provisions to raise the 902(b) cap but will not become law before the project would have shut down in November. 

If Olmsted were to have shut down, according to the Corps, it would have cost $40 million to restart the project, and of course, needlessly delay its delivery. 

“To be clear, no money has been expended in this action by Congress.  It simply raises the ceiling on the cost of project that was set in 1986 to allow work to continue in 2013 and beyond,”   said Michael J. Toohey, President/CEO, Waterways Council, Inc. (WCI) “This important project in Illinois has a 7.4 to 1 cost-benefit ratio as determined by the Corps of Engineers’ Chief’s Report approved by Congress, and is estimated to return more than $410 million annually in transportation cost savings and benefits when it is completed,” he continued.  
But there's always a story behind the story. Within hours, I saw this on the Bloomberg BusinessWeek website.

Don’t tell American Electric Power (AEP:US) Co. that a part of the U.S. budget agreement allowing an Ohio River lock reconstruction project to continue is a sweetheart deal for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.  

Other news folks picked up the Bloomberg story and ran it.

And today I found this version:

The last-minute addition to the fiscal deal this week of a $1.2 billion boost in the spending cap for an embattled waterway project in the home state of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell kicked up a political storm, but the "Kentucky Kickback" has jittery inland-shipping interests on the busy Ohio River breathing a sigh of relief.

There are others. There will be more. Doing my own Olmstead story is on my Ohio River bucket list, which gets longer every week.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

You do what you can

When you have an 8-month-old sleeping in the back seat and no one else in the car with you and you see a boat you want to photograph, you go with the best angle available, even if it is through a windshield.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ten minutes too late

I think this is the M/V Dixie Leader. It's headed up the Ohio River just past old Lock and Dam 27 there on the left of the picture.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Something missing

Remember how I said the Corps of Engineers had posted signs saying the public fishing areas of the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam on the Ohio River were closed for the duration of the federal government "shutdown"?

This evening on my way home from work, I made a side trip to Winfield WV to see if the signs at the Winfield Locks and Dam on the Kanawha River were keeping fishermen out, or if local anglers were engaging in a bit of civil disobedience

Guess what. Gate open. No sign.

Don't know if there ever was a sign or why the corps would close one public area and not another.

Another mystery of this great controversy that has the political class and its wannabes all screaming at one another and the rest of us shrugging our shoulders and waiting it out. Meanwhile, people I know are going without work and paychecks. For now, at least.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dense cargo

When I saw the W. Stanley James pass Huntington WV yesterday, I was thinking it was carrying a load of finely crushed rock. But when I looked at the pictures in a larger format, I thought it might have been carrying salt.

Whatever it was, it was awful heavy for such a small volume.

There will be two or three things that keep me awake tonight. This will not be one of them.

Bringing the pain home

So far this month I have avoided making any public comments on the federal government "shutdown," but after seeing this, I can't help myself.

Saturday, Adam and I made the trip up the river to see his grandmother and one of his cousins. We went up the West Virginia side, and as no one else was in the car with us, we made our usual stop at the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam. We were surprised to see concrete barriers blocking vehicle access to the public use area. A notice taped to one barrier said it was because of the shutdown.

We found that amusing as we had never seen a Corps of Engineers vehicle ever in the public use area the many times we had visited it. So an area that operates at minimal cost had to be closed to public access because of the spat in Congress.

Oh, to get to that notice, I had to walk around three motorcycles parked next to the barrier. And across the road was a pickup. We looked over in the park area and saw a man sitting at a picnic table in one of the shelters. I guess he was making a silent protest over the situation. Or he may have been a security guard to keep troublemakers like us out. You never know, even if he would have been the first security I had ever seen there. But I was pretty sure people had disregarded the notice and walked down to the river to fish.

We came home on the Ohio side so we could see what it looked like over there. Here's the interesting thing. There are two parking areas on the Ohio side. One, which is down by the river and provides handicap access for fishing, was blocked off with a gate, and a notice similar to the one on the West Virginia side of the river was attached to it. The upper parking lot, which is at the same level as Ohio Route 7, was open.

So I guess if you have a disability, you're not supposed to fish on the Ohio side because of the shutdown. But if you are a normally abled person, you can park at the top of the bank and walk down with no problem. Sounds like a conflict with the Americans With Disabilities Act to me, but I'm no lawyer.

I don't know how it is at other public access sites the corps maintains along the river, but I do know of one that was open with no problems that same day. I guess it's not busy enough to close.

Maybe you folks can explain it all to me. All I know is the great debate over the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare had come to fishing areas along the Ohio River.

P.S. Now that I think about it, I have made one public comment. This is what I put on my personal Facebook page on Oct. 2: "They say politics is show business for the ugly. The past couple of days I have heard so much fake outrage over the federal government shutdown that I can't stand it any more. I'm tuning it out except for what is required in my job."


Sunday, October 6, 2013

M/V Kelly Lee

I might have seen this boat before, but if I have, I can't recall it right now.

Handbook of International Bridge Engineering and Design

One of my favorite bridges over the Ohio River is the Blennerhassett Island Bridge near Parkersburg WV. I have found something on Google Books called "Handbook of International Bridge Engineering and Design."On Page 75 is an engineering description of the bridge.

For my West Virginia followers, the book includes chapters on the I-64 bridge over the Kanawha River at South Charleston and the New River Gorge Bridge.

On Page 93, the book lists major suspension bridges in the United States. Two on the Ohio are included: the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, which opened to traffic in 1849, and the John A. Roebling bridge in Cincinnati, which opened in 1866.

The book also has articles about the Three Sisters bridges on the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh and the Mon River bridge over the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania.

If you like bridges, you'll want to scan the excerpts that are in the link, even if you don't understand the engineering talk.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sunset at Huntington

Seen at Harris Riverfront Park, Huntington WV, Oct. 4, 2013

The park was unusually quiet that evening. Which was good.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Still at it

When will I stop taking pictures of boats going under the Huntington WV East End Bridge? The day I get one that says, you'll never top this one. I haven't gotten that shot yet.

Here is the M/V Escatawpa of Amherst Madison.

I think I know what that final picture will be, but it will be a while before I can get it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Boat for sale

I linked my previous post on my personal Facebook page. The first comment was from a guy I used to work with who's now at AEP. He says if I really have the itch, AEP has a surplus boat for sale.

If only ...

All I have is a dollar, and I think they want more than that.

Science class presentation

So my eighth-grade son Adam had a class assignment in science. He was to put together a PowerPoint presentation on how technology changes things over time.

What he did was no surprise. He did a piece on towboats, which he turned in yesterday. The presentation required a minimum of five slides. He started with sternwheelers and how some were converted to propellers. Then he moved to the 1940s and the Hillman boats, then to the turtlebacks that were designed in the 1950s, then the Dravo Vikings of the 1970s and ended with modern boats.

 A Hillman boat on the Kanawha River at Dunbar and South Charleston WV.

He said he will tell me what grade he got.

Adam didn't get towboat-crazy until he was in third grade. That spring we were at Virginia Point Park at Kenova WV, where the Big Sandy empties into the Ohio and boats and barges tend to congregate. He saw the M/V George King sitting in the river close to the shore. He took my camera in hand, started snapping pictures and an obsession was born.

Before that, Adam was fascinated by school buses, and he still is. When he was in second grade, every assignment turned into something about school buses. His teacher got tired of that and told him one day he had to write about something other than school buses. The poor kid froze. Now, I would go to the principal and tell her that a teacher was trying to kill a kid's passion.

In first grade, Adam came home upset. His school was serviced by four school buses. One was an older bus built by AmTran. The other three were Blue Birds. He was upset that the AmTran and a BlueBird had been replaced by two C2 models made by Thomas Built. Adam didn't know about the C2 model until the school system had bought one the year before, and he was fascinated by them. I wrote a piece for the local paper about his love of school buses and the C2 on his last day of kindergarten. That day, we received an invitation to visit the factory at High Point NC and see some C2s being made. After the tour, the company's marketing director held Adam on his lap and let Adam steer a C2 around a parking lot. It was the high point of the kid's life until he got to steer the M/V Hoosier State out on the river in 2010.

Anyway, Adam's first grade teacher heard him talking about the C2 and asked, "What's a C2?" So she arranged for Adam to take a brief ride on a new C2 one day after school. By the way, two of my three kids had this teacher in first grade, and she is the kind of teacher who should be paid twice what they're making now. Some should be fired and some should be rewarded. This teacher definitely deserved more than what she was paid.

Maybe some day I'll describe how his love of the C2 turned into an interest in Freightliners.

Adam also likes the Dodge Viper and the original Ford Mustang, by the way. He was so interested in one that we saw at an outdoor car show that the owner took him for a ten-minute ride around Huntington WV with the top down.

That's the kind of kid I live with.

P.S. Adam gets on the bus early in the morning and rides a Blue Bird most of the way. Then he transfers to a C2 for the remainder of his trip. He's ridden the same Blue Bird since kindergarten. But his bus might be scheduled for retirement next year. Although the school system has bought a lot of C2s and HDX models in recent years, Adam's driver says they might be switching to IC Corp. buses (a division of International, which acquired AmTran) next year. So Adam's curious about what bus he'll be riding and if he will commuted on buses made by all three American manufacturers.

I think he'd really like to get a ride on an EFX model somehow, but I don't think our school system has any of those.