Sunday, October 26, 2014

New look for an old boat

An old boat is getting a new look at South Point, Ohio.

This is the M/V Titan as seen waiting above the Gallipolis Locks and Dam in the 1980s.

And this is the boat today as seen at the McGinnis dock this weekend.

My apologies for the quality of this image. I had to shoot it from across the river and a mile away.

Murray bought Consol's river operations when it bought five mines from Consol about a year ago. Along with the new colors scheme, the boat also has a new name -- the Luciana Moore.

The Titan was built by St. Louis Ship in 1953. It's one of the relatively few boats on the river that's older than I am. The distinguishing feature of the remodeled boat is the modern-looking pilothouse, of course. There are several of us who want to get good pictures of it once it's on the river and in service.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Trying something to see if it works

Here, I decided to use a timberhead at Harris Riverfront Park in Huntington to see if its shadow could block the setting sun, allowing me to get a photo of the Robert C. Bridge, known locally as the 6th Street bridge.

Meanwhile, some of my friends and acquaintances are in Louisville for the big goings on there. They seem to be having a good time. I wish I could be with them. Maybe for the bicentennial. I'll be very old then, but it will be worth the wait.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More on bridge tolls and such

Bloomberg has a story about how the Ohio River bridges project at Louisville could be a model for public-private partnerships for future infrastructure projects, as opposed to what happened when Indiana leased its turnpike to a private operator.

As noted here before, most of the high bridges built over the Ohio River in the early part of the 20th century, at least in my area, were done by private companies. Private entities operated ferries, so it was natural for private entities for build and operate bridges, charging tolls for the opportunity to cross, just as ferries charged tolls.

It's understandable that people who pay fuel taxes for highways and bridges don't want to be charged again to use a bridge. Believe me, I feel that way every time I drive the hundred miles or so of the West Virginia Turnpike. As far as curves and grades so, it's probably the most harrowing four-lane road I have driven, particularly at night. But at present levels of funding, there is no way the West Virginia Division of Highways could take over that road and maintain it without something else being neglected.

Also, there are about twenty miles or so of U.S. 35 along the Kanawha River between Point Pleasant and Charleston that need to be upgraded to four lanes. You have four lanes for most of the way with two lanes through farm country in the middle. That part of the road is dangerous, too, especially when you're driving at or above the 55 mph speed limit and the grille of an 18 wheeler fills your rear view mirror. Much of the traffic on the road is trucks moving between Columbus and Charleston. Locals don't want tolls, and that resistance is slowing down completion of the road.

I understand that people in northern Kentucky are resisting the idea of tolls on a new bridge to replace to take some of the burden off the Brent Spence Bridge. But with large bridge projects costing in the billions now, something will have to give.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I guess monsoon season is here

I went to the boat ramp to see if there was anything to see in the rain, and I saw that I just missed the Nashville Hunter. But I did get one halfway decent image of it going under the bridge.

I usually don't like going out in the rain, but sometimes you get some good pictures down by the river by doing so. In case you wonder, I did not touch this image other than to add the copyright reminder and to crop it in 16-by-9 format. Otherwise this is how it came out of the camera. It was a black and white world this evening here in Huntington WV.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Last batch of W.P. Snyder Jr. photos ... for now

I might catch the boat when it comes back upriver. Until then, these are probably the last photos I'll be posting from last Thursday.

M/V Alan P. Hall

Adam and I saw the Alan P. Hall as it passed Huntington yesterday.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

M/V Amber Brittany

If the Amber Brittany isn't the prettiest towboat working the Ohio River today, it's one of the top ten. Adam and I got to see it today, meaning we got a few pictures, of course.

Cincinnati bridge deteriorates

This item from The Cincinnati Enquirer is comforting.

— Years of inspection reports show that the high-traffic Interstate 75 bridge over the Ohio River is showing its age after five decades. ... The bridge has been deemed safe, but its deteriorating condition concerns some experts.

I've traveled over bridges with a lot worse rating than the Brent Spence Bridge. Granted, the Ironton-Russell Bridge had a rating of 3 at one time, although it's better now, and they still close it for safety reasons in really cold weather. And the Ironton bridge doesn't have nearly the traffic volume that a bridge in Cincinnati does.

Bridges are getting more and more expensive, and tolls may be the only way to get some built. That was how bridges were built a hundred years ago when private enterprise, not the states, built and operated them. I remember paying a dime to cross the bridges here in Huntington back in the mid 1970s even.

Time is cyclical. What happened before will happen again.

More W.P. Snyder Jr. photos

As the J.S. Lewis and the W.P. Snyder near Louisville, here are a few more photos that I got Thursday after they left the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam.

If I had the money and the time, I would be in Louisville this week. But that's not how life goes. Let me know if anyone has fun down there.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

W.P. Snyder Jr. ... and more to come

More later, including more pictures, but today I got to see the W.P. Snyder Jr. and the J.S. Lewis lock through Gallipolis Robert C. Byrd on their way to Louisville to take part in the Belle of Louisville centennial. Here is one picture I got from the day.

More to come later as I process them. It's getting close to suppertime. Adam and I will go look for the boats after we eat.

By the way, trudging up and down the river bank several times trying to get a good picture -- or waiting patiently for one -- is not easy when you also are responsible for watching an active 20-month-old that day.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Three more boats

A short trip down to the river turned into a long one -- particularly when I should have been home doing other things -- when I saw three boats, including one of my favorites.

First, there was the Holy Angel.

Then there was the O. Nelson Jones.

Finally, there was the Mary Ellen Jones.

While the O. Nelson Jones was passing, there was a pleasure boat out in the channel. It was pulling something that looked like a dock segment. Towing it, if you prefer, when a real towboat went by.

Another view on changes in the coal industry

As coal is the dominant commodity moved on the Ohio River, changes in the coal industry affect river traffic. I've written about this before. For another take on what's going on in the coal industry, check out this article.

A sample from the article:

     Industry advocates are often quick to blame Obama administration rules and environmentalists for the troubles. Greens, for their part, point to the international markets and what they see as coal's inevitable decline. But the truth lies somewhere in between, relying on a complex set of factors that are largely absent from the current debate over whether there is a "war on coal."

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Grain harvests, aging locks and national security

Here's one for you. It's mainly about the Upper Mississippi and the Illinois rivers, but there are places on the Ohio River where this holds true, too:

     CHICAGO, Sept 25 (Reuters) - With a record U.S. harvest just coming in, the river transportation system that is at the heart of the nation's farm economy is overstrained by rising demand for shipping capacity, a low barge inventory, and a dilapidated lock system.
     The pressure is building on an inland waterways network that is just one flood, drought or mechanical breakdown from calamity after decades of neglect, industry sources say.
     Looming bumper corn and soybean crops are bringing to light issues that have built for years and which have been exacerbated by new entrants to the marketplace for river logistics, such as producers of crude oil from the nation's shale boom.

Here's the paragraph I found most interesting:

     The Corps has stopped detailing needs at specific locks, citing national security risks.

I wonder what the Corps knows that we don't. Or what it knows that is not related to national security that it doesn't want us to know.

Okay, I'm the skeptical type. It comes from nearly four decades in the news business. I remember in early 2005 when I was helping my older son, Joseph, with a social studies fair project. We were taking pictures of a railroad bridge in our area when on off-duty policeman stopped and asked us why we were so interested in a bridge.

I could say more, but I won't, in the interest of national security. Why give terrorists any ideas?

Beware of aquatic invaders

I was at the boat ramp at the mouth of the Guyandotte River here in Huntington, W.Va., the other day and saw a sign had been nailed to a utility pole. A family was reading it, so I did not get closer. Today, though, I had the park all to myself, so I checked the sign out. It basically is a warning about invasive species.

Here, I've taken each of the three parts of the sign and broken them out as their own images.

Zebra mussels were supposed to be an ecological disaster until ducks learned they were tasty. I don't know if anything has found Asian carp to please its palate. We can always hope.

Speaking of which, each fall we used to have a lot of Asian lady beetles around here. I haven't seen many of them since stink bugs moved in.



Thursday, October 2, 2014

Off Topic: Controlling access

I have read that a reporter in Wisconsin is complaining that a prominent political figure's people kept the media penned in a certain area during a political visit and did their best to keep reporters from talking to people who attended.

That's nothing new. It's happened here in Huntington during big shots' political visits. It even happened at the Greenbrier when an older reporter of ours covered the return of the Iranian hostages more than 30 years ago. He got tired of the restrictions that kept reporters away from everyone else, so he hid his press pass. With no outward indications he was a reporter, he was able to walk up to a local guy who had been a hostage in the embassy and got the interview he needed.

When I covered presidential visits and such, I tried my best to stay out of the press pen and walk among regular folks. Republican or Democrat, a candidate's handlers want to control access. I made the mistake of going into the pen one time thinking I would get a quick question to a candidate. I was wrong. He avoided us so he could work the crowd. Never again. Regular reporters could be part of the press pool. I wanted to mingle among the crowd. Those interviews usually were more important than what the candidate said anyway.

A former colleague covered a presidential visit to Charleston, W.Va., one day. She tried leaving the press pen, and a presidential press person told her she needed to be back there with her media peers. I don't remember if my colleague heeded that directive or ignored it.

On the national level, everything is so scripted. The likelihood that a gaffe will haunt a candidate forever is too great, so you restrict access and reduce the chances an off-the-cuff remark will end up in your opponent's commercials. It's like I used to tell younger reporters when they couldn't understand why a company would not let retail-level people talk with us. A company that spends millions of dollars on creating an image is not going to let a minimum-wage convenience store cashier destroy it with one careless comment, I would tell them.

Okay. Journalism lesson over. Back to river stuff.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

M/V Canton

As seen Monday, Sept. 30...

The motor vessel Canton of Marathon Petroleum has just left the Ohio River and turned up into the Kanawha River at Point Pleasant, W.Va. My guess was that it will stop at a tank farm on the Kanawha there at Charleston and perhaps go ahead on up the river to drop off barges at a small terminal in the small town of Hugheston, or perhaps drop a barge at a chemical plant above Charleston.


But I appear to have guessed wrong. The Canton didn't transit the Marmet Locks and Dam, meaning it didn't go to Hugheston. At least not on this trip. That's why I don't play the stock market.