Wednesday, December 24, 2014

From the archives: 1985

Last night I spent about an hour scanning some slides I shot in the mid 1980s. They were of river scenes, as most of the family photos I took in that time period were on negative film. Here is one of the photos I took back then. It was from July 4, 1985

This is the Gallipolis Locks and Dam, as it was known then -- and to many people in the area, still is. This photo was made from the West Virginia side. The beach where I stood was torn out a few years later to make room for the new locks in their canal. (Yeah, there was some dirt on the scanner or the slide. Sorry about that.).

Gallipolis was the primary bottleneck on the Ohio River at that time. It was built in the 1930s to improve navigation on the lower part of the Kanawha River, so its two locks were built according to the needs of that time. Both locks were 110 feet wide. The main lock was 600 feet long, and the smaller one was 360 feet. As barge tows tended to be nearly 1,200 feet, including the boat, that led to delays. The fact the dam sat in the bend in the river made things worse, particularly for downbound tows in high water.

The need to improve Gallipolis was one of the reasons the towing industry agreed to the first-ever tax on diesel fuel to help fund waterways infrastructure improvements.

I grew up near the Gallipolis Locks and Dam, so it's always been my favorite. Plus the dam's art deco architecture, if you can call it that, made it even more pleasing to my eyes. I hope to get down to the lower Ohio someday and have permission to visit Locks and Dam 52 again and maybe Locks and Dam 53, too. Plus I hope to do the same at Emsworth, Dashields and Montgomery in the Pittsburgh District.

I may post some more photos from 1985 soon. It was a great year to be a river rat.

Meanwhile, the Ross household is fighting the cold or flu or whatever it is that has us down. Adam had it this past Friday, I got it Monday and now my wife may be about to come down with it. So while we're dealing with that, we three hope everyone out there has a good night tonight and tomorrow and on into next week and the new year.