Saturday, May 30, 2015

I had a good day yesterday

A ferry ride is good for the mind.

Especially on a warm day with a light breeze and no rain in sight.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Up the river today

This is one of those rare days when life and work allow me to take one of my favorite mini-road trips, namely up the Ohio River from Huntington on Route 2 to Point Pleasant, then Route 7 to the Blennerhassett Bridge and beyond.

I'll be out of touch of the Internet from about 7:30 a.m. until very late in the day, which is a good thing.

Yesterday I got a glimpse of the Kirby boat M/V City of Vicksburg going up the Ohio, but because of circumstances I did not have my camera with me. The last I checked, maybe we'll meet up in the Belleville or Willow Island pools, because I definitely want a picture of that boat.

So later, folks.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Small boats working Big Sandy harbor

This past weekend I went down to Catlettsburg to see what could be seen. Several line haul boats passed through the area, as was recorded here.

Now for some of the smaller boats that worked the area that day.

Here the M/V Chris Arden pulled a barge from the tow of the M/V Titletown USA and took it a mile or so down the river.

Here, the M/V Mountain Girl pushed against the Titletown USA's tow while the Chris Arden did its job.

That was on the Ohio side. On the Kentucky side, these boats at Merdie Boggs stayed home during the short time I was there.

Things I wonder about, but not for long

I was at the Huntington riverfront today when a city fire engine was drawing water from the Ohio River and spraying it high into the air. Given the presence of a van nearby, I assume it was testing or calibrating equipment.

Then I saw a small boat from the Army Corps of Engineers pass by. It wasn't a big boat. It was the kind that had a cabin and can be pulled on a standard size trailer by a pickup. What stood out to me was the fact the boat had a couple of tow knees on the front. I wondered for a minute what the boat pushes, then my mind went on to other things.

Like the small boat that followed it. It was a flat-bottomed boat that was big enough for the three people in it. Only one person at a time stood. On the side in green letters was, "U.S. EPA". I didn't know what a boat that small with three people in it was doing, but I had other things to worry about.

And that summed up my curiosity for the day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wagon Train, Longfellow and my favorite bridge

In 1839, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published a collection of poems under the title "Voices of the Night." But I never knew anything about that collection until the early 1970s when I was watching a "Wagon Train" rerun that ended with Major Adams quoting from part of one of those poems. Its title was "A Psalm of Life", and the part he quoted went like this:

Life is real! Life is earnest!
     And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
     Was not spoken of the soul.

That is all I remember about that particular episode. The poem lay buried in my memory until the early 1980s, when I worked every Sunday afternoon and evening at the newspaper in Huntington WV. Every now and then photographer Tim Grobe would bring the city editor a photo of something he saw that day, and it was my job to say something about it. It could be factual or interesting, preferably both. Sometimes I did puns. Sometimes I tried writing something based on the opening of a famous novel. If that novel was one my executive editor had not read, he would mark up the paper the next day asking "What the ...?"

For the longest time, I hoped Tim would bring us a photo of the East End Bridge, which was under construction at the time I was working Sundays. But he never did. I had written a little verse based on Longfellow's poem that Major Adams had quoted. I so much wanted to use it as a caption in a photo, but I never got the chance.

Maybe everything worked out for the best, as I managed to stick around there another 25 years before they kicked me out in a downsizing.

So here is picture of the bridge of my own taking and the poem.

Bridges are real! Bridges are earnest!
   And uncrossed rivers fit not their plan;
From rust thou art to rust returnest,
   Was not written of concrete spans.

Okay, that's the end of poetry on the Ohio River Blog.

Morning at the marina

Huntington is down to one marina instead of the three it had a few years ago. The one that remains gets longer and longer, and now it's extended almost to the property line of the East End bridge.

I was down there yesterday morning when ...

... the Paula Ruble came down the river with twelve empty barges. I followed it down until it went under the downtown bridge, but this is the one image that stuck with me.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The path oft taken

This isn't the path that got me here, but it is the one that will take me home. Eventually.

Maybe this is where we're supposed to quote from the Robert Frost poem, but not this time.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Photos from Catlettsburg and Ashland

Here are a few of the boats I saw this weekend during stops at Catlettsburg and Ashland KY.

First there was Titletown USA.

A Crounse boat was at Merdie Boggs, but I didn't get its name.

Left to right, the Oliver C. Shearer, the Charlie Melancon and the Bea Black.

Another view of the Oliver C. Shearer.

And just above the lower McGinnis docks at Sheridan, Ohio, the Larry Drummond.

These were a few of the boats I saw. I might post more later.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Stuff, 5/23/2015

I took a mental health trip down to the river today. I was mainly looking for a place to sit in the shade and think about a few things. Too bad I forgot this was a Saturday of a holiday weekend, meaning there was no such thing.

I did see some boats, such as the Titletown USA, Charlie Melancon, Kentucky and a few others. After they are processed, they may appear on here.

Oh, let's go ahead and put up one of the Kentucky. The others probably will come later.

For something completely different, let's talk about personal watercraft. A lot of people call them jet skis, but Jet Ski is a registered trademark, so the clumsy term personal watercraft was coined as a generic replacement.

A few years ago, I got a nice shot of one of those things in the water. Today I saw another one, but fortune did not smile on me twice. I did get this picture, however.

Yes, the guy is wearing a wide-brimmed hat. That's one way of protecting your head from the sun.

Friday, May 22, 2015

USA Today got it right

The newspaper's web site lists some of the best riverside drives in the USA, and on the list is the Ohio River Scenic Byway from Pennsylvania to Illinois, with a particular liking for the Ohio part. I have to agree on this. Route 7 from Gallipolis to Proctorville and Route 52 from Portsmouth to New Richmond are among my favorites. Route 7 from Hannibal to Marietta is pretty good, too. Plus those road segments have access to two ferries, which are always on my to-do list when I'm anywhere near them.

Parts of southern Illinois are nice, too, by the way.

My bucket list includes the Columbia River, particularly along the northern shore. Before I do that one, I'll have to re-read what William Least Heat Moon wrote about it in Blue Highways.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

M/V William R. Barr

Passing Huntington WV recently.

In the news, 5/21/15

Several news reports have noted that states in the Ohio River Valley are prime candidates for wind farms using turbines twice as tall and with longer blades than those now in use. Some of this wind-powered electrical generation could replace coal, it is said.

It's been a while since I looked at the maps, but if I recall correctly, most of the wind potential is in the flat area of Ohio and almost none in the hill country along the Ohio River itself. In West Virginia, about the only place with real potential was in the highest mountains in the state, mainly along the border with Virginia.

Even then, people who lived there to get away from urban areas complained about how the turbines interfered with the view they wanted from their properties, namely one free from the invasion of technology.

Now that all was with towers and turbines of the size in use now. I don't know what people in the Cincinnati-to-Toledo corridor would think of supertall towers with big blades spinning. Plus spinning turbines have been known to generate noise similar to that of airplane propellers (imagine that). If you put long blades on tall towers in flat country, how far will the sound carry?

And we can't forget what happens when birds and bats encounter wind turbines.

It seems there's no way to generate electricity without tradeoffs. If you want electricity, you just have to decide which devil you want to make a deal with.


The Courier & Press of Evansville is running a poll asking readers to choose which of four cities in its area has the best riverfront. Candidates are Evansville, Owensboro, Newburgh and Henderson. As it's been almost 30 years since I was in any of those cities, I am in no position to offer any advice or preferences, although I would like to get back down there next summer.

In the spirit of that poll, if any readers of this blog have any nominations for best riverfront along the entire 981.5 miles of the Ohio River, I would like to hear them.


Meanwhile, a columnist for the Courier & Press asks what it would take to get Evansville's divided city government to make improvements to that city's riverfront.

All quiet on the head of the tow?

Someday I want to ride a towboat pushing barges. I want to be on there long enough so I can go out to the barges in front, a thousand feet in front of the boat's engines, and learn what I can hear and cannot hear.

When I'm getting pictures of boats approaching me head-on, often I cannot hear the engines. Maybe it's because the structure of the boat blocks the noise. I really don't know. I do know that all I hear is the sound of the barges against the water. The choppier the water, the louder and more varied the sounds.

That's why I want to be out there at the head of the tow, listening for myself.

When the lead barges pass, their sound disappears and soon the rumble and whine of the engines take over. That's another reason I want to ride a boat -- to catalog the sounds that are in the background.
Maybe someday.

The picture above shows three barges with rake (slanted) ends leading a tow of nine empties and six loads. A barge with a box (vertical) end kicks up a good spray of water on a choppy surface. Even one with a rake end and loaded to 10.5 or 11 feet can kick up a good spray, and in winter it forms a heavy coating of ice in the wires that hold the barges together.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bucket truck

Work has begun on cleaning, repairing and painting the East End bridge here at Huntington. I saw it from this angle this morning as I was making a dropoff in Huntington's Guyandotte neighborhood.

It's hard to tell, but I think there are two guys in the bucket under the roadway. I wonder what it's like to be in one of those things as you step in and then are lifted over the river and then under the bridge. It must be pretty cool, kind of like being able to climb to the top of the bridge, as I was allowed to do about 16 years ago.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Boats and the Major League All-Star Game

If you plan to spend the All-Star Game on your bass boat beside Great American Ballpark, you might have a problem.

The U.S. Coast Guard is proposing a set of rules to deal with boating traffic on the Ohio River at Cincinnati in the four-day period of the Major League All-State Game in July. You can find details of the proposal here.

The main point, or nut graf as we call it in the news business, follows:

The Captain of the Port (COTP) Ohio Valley is proposing to establish a special local regulation for all waters of the Ohio River, surface to bottom, extending from Ohio River mile 469.5 to 471.2 at Cincinnati, OH July 10, 2015 through July 14, 2015. This special local regulation is necessary to protect persons and property from potential damage and safety hazards during the “86th MLB All-Star Week/Game”, an event which will likely involve a high density of boater traffic in the river miles specified. This proposed special local regulation is intended to temporarily restrict vessel traffic in a portion of the Ohio River and implement a moving security zone for certain vessel traffic within the special local regulated zone during this event in order to promote the safety of life and property on the navigable waterway. There is no regulatory history related to this proposed special local regulation or the event triggering a need for the proposed special local regulation.
The effect of this proposed rule will be to restrict general navigation during the event. Vessels intending to transit the Ohio River through the designated mile markers will only be allowed to transit the area when the COTP Ohio Valley, or a designated representative, has deemed it safe to do so or at the completion of the event each day.

The link has more information on how to comment.

On to 200,000

Today the Ohio River Blog passed 175,000 page views in its nearly six-year history. That's about as many (I'm guessing and exaggerating here) as Instapundit gets in an hour or the Drudge Report gets in ten seconds, but I'll take it.

My thanks to everyone who reads this very personal and very specialized blog. I've made some great online friends and contacts, and I appreciate you all. Lucky for me the trolls have been few and far between. The Russian spammers I can do without, however.

Wave action

Yesterday evening I had to spend an hour or so in town while Adam played in the Huntington High School band at an event organized by the mayor. Part way through that hour I found myself up on the bridge looking out over Huntington and the Ohio River. Eventually my thoughts found their way to a dump truck and a college physics textbook. Here is how I got there.

The Ohio River here at Huntington flows east to west. This evening there was the usual wind blowing west to east. That created some small waves on the surface of the Ohio. Lots of them.

As I watched them, I decided to follow one wave crest and see how far it went. As it turned out, not far. The wave would travel a short distance and then disappear into the water. When I looked back to where I first noticed the wave, a new one was forming.

It wasn't what I expected. Then an old memory popped into my head. It was fall 1992. I was in another city, standing on a third- or fourth-floor patio near an exit ramp of an interstate highway. I saw a dump truck heading my way. The truck bed was covered by a tarp, and the tarp was flapping in the wind. I watched the air move through the tarp like a wave or a swell on water. As the truck descended the exit ramp, it neared a light pole. I figured I would focus on the light pole and watch the wave of air go through the tarp so I could judge its speed.

What did I see? The wave of air was not moving under the tarp. When I looked at the light pole and the tarp at the same time, I noticed the wave of air was stationary and the truck was moving under the wave. So instead of the wave of air moving across the truck, actually the air was standing still and the truck was moving under it.

As I pondered those waves on the Ohio River and that dump truck from nearly 23 years ago, that led to another thought in my stream of consciousness when I remembered a college physics textbook back at the house. It said water waves consist of molecules rotating in a nearly circular motion. That would explain why the same wave kept appearing in the same spot.

Here is a shot of a diagram from that textbook that explains all this:

For the curious, this is from Page 420 of "The Mechanical Universe: Introduction to Mechanics and Heat" by Richard P. Olenick, Tom M. Apostol and David L. Goodstein, © 1985, Cambridge University Press. The book went with a television course in introductory physics. It was one of my favorite programs of all time. For something from the 1980s, it had pretty good graphics that helped you follow along, even with the calculus-based math. At times you just sit back and enjoy the moving parts of the equations because you have no idea what they're doing.

To make a short story long, that's what went through my mind that evening as I watched waves on the surface of the Ohio River at beautiful downtown Huntington, the second-largest city in the Great State of West Virginia and, I believe, the sixth-largest city along the Ohio. Or, as people here seem compelled to say, the Mighty Ohio.

Monday, May 18, 2015


People like me stand along the Ohio River bank, watching boats go by and wondering how things look from out there, especially as time wears on and the novelty wears off. How many times do you see downtown Louisville from the river at night before you mouth stays closed and your shoulders shrug, "Been here. Will be here again. No big deal."

We take pictures of towboats and the people who work on them. We attend open houses to look at what to us are the incredibly large engines that move them. A boat is someone's home for three or four weeks at a time. Boats have names. Some people even write songs to them.

But towboats would be nothing without something to push, name barges. Those big boxes that haul coal or limestone or whatever are the reasons the boats exist, yet they have receive none of the attention the boats do.

An Ohio River barge is about 400-and-some tons of steel that take a lot of pounding and scraping. It's what they're meant to do.

(Disclaimer: Coal barges are about 195 feet long and 35 feet wide. Dimensions may vary by a few feet. Barges hauling chemicals or built for other uses may have different dimensions.)

If I could write a Shakespearean sonnet in iambic pentameter the way poets do, I would write Ode to a Barge, just for the challenge. I need something with meter and structure. Free verse is something I just don't get.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

M/V Kentucky

Yesterday evening I took a mental health break at Virginia Point Park in Kenova, and a wonderful break it was. For the first time after five years of waiting -- but not obsessing -- I saw one of the new Marathon Petroleum boats running without barges. So I got a few pictures. You can see them on my Flickr photostream here, here and here. In case you wonder, I can load higher-resolution photos there than here.

And this ...

... is one of those photos after I took it down to black and white and played with it a little bit.

It was a good evening. An afternoon shower cleared out the humidity, and an overcast sky brought out the color.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Holding it together

As I got some photos of the M/V Earl Jones yesterday, I thought I would take a look at the lines and such that kept the barges tied to the boat. This was what I saw.

Friday, May 15, 2015

As seen from South Point, Ohio

I had to make a brief trip across the river today, so I figured I would swing by the little park there near the southernmost point of the Great State of Ohio to see what was hanging around the mouth of the Big Sandy River.

First, I saw these boats over at the Marathon Petroleum dock (soon to the the MPLX dock) at Catlettsburg, Ky.

I could see this boat's pilothouse just above the barges as it sat in the water at (I think) the McGinnis dock area.

While I was there, the Earl Jones came down the river.

A satisfying side trip, I guess.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Safe or unsafe?

I was going to post a photo I got of a boat today, but then I wondered if I should. It showed a guy on a towboat. He was out on the boat near one of the smokestacks working on something. He was not wearing a flotation vest or other similar device, as far as I could tell.

I have gotten several other photos like that of guys on barges, whether moving or tied to a dock or a mooring cell. I've seen guys painting the boat. Some wore vests and some didn't.

It's not the goal of this blog to get anyone fired. If I have a question of whether using a picture would get someone fired, I keep the picture to myself.

But I do wonder sometimes if I'm being too cautious. Is it company policy or Coast Guard regulation that everyone who walks out on a barge must wear a vest or other floatation device? What about someone who has just gone off watch and is sitting at the head of the boat, between the knees, and enjoying a cigarette? Is he supposed to wear a vest? Or someone painting the side of the boat, or a smokestack, or wiping down a handrail?

If a boat is tied up below a lock, and a couple of guys go out to enjoy some sun, are they allowed to take off their vests if they're just sitting around passing time?

Or am I making a mountain out of a molehill and being too cautious?

Two stories from the Upper Ohio

There was a towboat fire up near Wheeling yesterday that caught the attention of a TV news department. Hat tip to Moundsville, W.Va., resident Willie Nelson for sending me the link. I probably wouldn't have found it on my own because I look for "towboat" stuff instead of "tugboat" stuff.


Two bureaucracies appear to have different views on whether some coal-fired power plants should be shut down. This story from Wheeling has one take on what's going on.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Two boats on the river, 5/12/15

My computer is fixed, so it's time to celebrate by posting photos of a couple of boats I saw late yesterday afternoon.

First is the W. Stanley James pushing six loaded barges upriver, with Chesapeake, Ohio, in the background.

I had a few minor dealings with James when he was a member of the Tri-State Airport Authority, the governing body for Tri-State Airport near Huntington. I quoted him in newspaper articles every now and then, but that was about it. I think I read that he was one of the agents or advisers to Chad Pennington, a Heisman finalist in 1999 at Marshall University and quarterback for the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, but don't bet any money on my memory of this being true.

A few minutes later I saw the Mary Scheel a bit farther up the river.

Nowadays when I see an AEP boat, I check the stern to see if it's registered to Lakin WV or St. Louis MO so I can guess whether it's one of the ones up for sale.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Computer is out of action again

It is time for another trip to the shop. I'll try to post something every now and then until I get back.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My mother and the river

This being Mother's Day, it's time to reflect on my mother's experience with the Ohio River.

She was the youngest of four children, and she was the only one of the four born on shore. The other three were born on the boats her parents operated on the Ohio at various times in the early 20th century. From what I have been told, her grandfather operated a ferry. Her brother worked for a while on the steam-powered sternwheelers before becoming a carpenter. Every now and then when I would drive her home from Gallipolis, she would remark that a certain house along the river at Clipper Mills was built by her brother.

One of her sons worked on and off as a deckhand on the Ohio until his untimely death. Another of her sons may have worked a few days on a boat before deciding that was not the life for him.

My mother's parents lived along the Ohio below the Gallipolis Locks and Dam. They say my grandfather could identify passing boats by the sound of their steam whistles. He died when I was very young, so I have no memory of him. And that was long before I could pick his brain about the river. I asked one of my aunts if any log books from his boats survive, and she said no, they don't.

This son, her youngest, never had the body strength to work on the river. But when he became a newspaper reporter, he took every opportunity that came his way to write about the river. Actually, he created more opportunities than came to him by chance. Dams, bridges, boats, hydropower, water quality ... if it had to do with the Ohio River, he wanted to be the one writing about it.

My grandmother passed away in 1964. My mother used her field glasses to watch passing towboats until I bought her a pair of real binoculars. When my mother passed away in 1993, I brought the binoculars home, and I use them now and then when I want to look at boats.

My mother always enjoyed watching the Delta Queen and other sternwheelers pass by. Every now and then, she would try to remember something deep in her memory about watching a performance on a showboat, but details were few. She told me the name of the boat once, but I cannot remember it.

She lived the last 23 years of her life in a house by the Ohio. One of my favorite river pictures shows a grandson, who must have been two years old at the time, and a three-year-old boy she babysat, at the top of the Ohio River bank watching a "big big boat" operated by Ohio Barge Line pass by.

Some of us were fortunate to grow up in a time and place when mothers were respected if not revered. When I was in a dorm at Ohio University, a New York kid said something insulting about another guy's mother. The room went quiet. I told him that in Ohio, you don't make fun of another guy's mother.

It's hard to believe she's been gone almost 22 years. I have lots of regrets in my life, and one is that I didn't take some money when I had it and take her on a trip on the Delta Queen from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh. She would have loved it.

My mother had ten children -- five boys and five girls. One died while she lived. A son and a daughter have passed away since. So now there are seven of us left, along with more than two dozen grandchildren, I don't know how many great-grandchildren and an unknown number of great-great-grandchildren.

It would be interesting to know how she would have reacted to knowing that one of her grandchildren now works for the Army Corps of Engineers at a lock on the Ohio and what memories she would share with him. That's one of many unanswered questions that life tends to throw at us.

This is my mother in spring 1992 holding my daughter, who was less than two weeks old at the time. My mother's kids tended to stress her out no matter how old they were, but her grandchildren usually were her joy. I guess she was born to be a mamaw.

If I ever get around to writing that river book, she and her family will be part of it, as I have photos of river-related heirlooms and the stories that go with them. I miss her, and this is as good a point as any to end this essay other than to wish my wife, my daughter and my mother-in-law a happy Mother's Day.

Later, folks.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Another take on the coal industry slump

For those of you interested in the coal industry slump from one railroad's perspective, check out this story by my wife's favorite reporter.

M/V AEP Mariner

As seen heading up the Ohio River past Huntington WV Friday afternoon.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The colors of spring

The weather is warm, the trees are green, and riverboats are covered with the colors of primer as someone has the job of applying a new coat of paint. Case in point: the M/V Bea Black as it passed Huntington WV yesterday.

How comfortable is this paint job, out there without shade, with the sun reflecting off the water, and you standing in front of a big metal surface? It can't be that enjoyable, although to some of us it is greatly preferable to spending a lot of time outdoors in the winter wind.

M/V R.L. Carter Jr. at sunrise

A few minutes before the sun clawed its way over the West Virginia hills this a.m., the M/V R.L. Carter Jr. was preparing to round the bend at about Mile 301 on the Ohio River, right below the location of the former Lock and Dam 27. I had left the house without all my camera gear, so I made do with the lens that I had. It seems to have been adequate.

I couldn't decide which of the two pictures I like better, so here are both.

Per the normal practice in these parts, as I was taking pictures some moron had to honk his horn to distract me. I suppose there's some entertainment value in helping a person lose a picture he really wants to get, but I don't know what it is. The only reason I can think of is stupidity, and I do not use that word lightly.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Two boats, a train and a granddaughter

I saw a Crounse boat this morning, the Barbara. I looked for the "Friends of Coal" logo on it, but I didn't see it.

I did, however, see the Barbara being overtaken by the Gladys Ford. As far as I know, today was the first time I saw that particular boat. If I saw it operate under a previous name, I don't remember.

I was able to get a shot of the Gladys Ford and its barges reflected in the smooth water before the two boats churned it all up.

I also got a shot of a southbound CSX train on the old B&O line along the Ohio River. It was a pretty long train, carrying mixed freight including several cars of propane.

The best part was when I was waiting for the Barbara to get to where I was, and I got a phone call saying a certain two-year-old wanted me to come see her for a few minutes. Of course I did.

And that was my excitement for today.

Smaller boats

I don't know how many small boats there are compared to the big ones, and I don't know how many people work on them compared to the big ones. All I know is that they're out there doing work, too, even if they're not exactly the boats that people who live on shore think about or share pictures of.

Last Friday, I saw the Taylor Renee come out of the Big Sandy pushing six loads of coal. The engine was running pretty loud, and it was kicking up quite a wake as it headed down the river. Where it was going I don't know.

I assume this boat doesn't travel far from South Point, Ohio, but I could be wrong. I've been wrong before.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

In the news 5/6/15

Given the importance of coal shipments to Ohio River transportation, this article might be interesting to river fans. It talks about mergers in the coal industry. Specifically to the river, it has a map and chart of coal deliveries to power plants in the Ohio Valley.


A study says proposed cuts in carbon dioxide emissions could save more than 3,000 lives per year. I admit that back in my editing days when a reporter would write a story saying this or that form of pollution killed so many people last year, my first response was, what were their names? Yes, I know that they were doing statistical analysis on the likelihood that so many people died prematurely, but ...


It's been a decade since I set foot in the part of Northern Kentucky across the river from Cincinnati, so I can't say much about it, but this does sound good.


Scott Wartman of the Cincinnati Enquirer used to be one of my coworkers at the Huntington newspaper. I told people I taught him everything he knows. Not everything I know, but everything he knows. He's grown past that point since then, though.

Anyway, here he has a story on how Cincinnati is joining the game of claiming many, many miles of riverbank as a "port" for statistical purposes.

M/V Connie K

The Connie K of Campbell Transportation passed Huntington yesterday around noon. These were taken from the riverbank in a residential area of Huntington. That's the community of Bradrick, which lies between the metropolises of Proctorville and Chesapeake, Ohio, in the background.

The Connie K looks like an old boat, mainly because it is. It was built in 1951 by Dravo, and as with any older boat it has had almost as many name changes than a character on a soap opera.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A sign

Huntington had the first modern riverfront park here in this section of the Ohio River. Other cities near here have copied most of its design elements when they built their own parks, but they all added one thing Huntington's Harris Riverfront Park has not had in its thirty years of existence.

There has been no sign letting people on the river know they're passing Huntington. There are signs warning you that you are under police surveillance, and there are signs warning that parking is for park users only. But looking for something that welcomes people to the city or even identifies the city was a fruitless search.

I always figured that Huntington officials thought if you were smart enough to get here, you were smart enough to know where you were.

But there may be another reason, which I will get to later.

What brought this on is the fact that a few months ago, the city opened a skate park at the lower end of Harris Riverfront Park for kids to enjoy their skateboards and such. And someone out up a plywood sign with the word "Huntington" in letters big enough to be seen from the river.

The lettering on this sign is graffiti style. And that may be why Huntington has never invested in a sign at the park or murals on the floodwall or anything like that to spruce the place up. This city is plagued with graffiti vandals, er, graffiti artists, and any effort to add anything nice to the floodwall or elsewhere will likely have an ugly graffiti tag on it before the sun rises the next morning.

It's a shame, but it's the way life is here.

Having said all that, my thanks to whoever erected this sign. It was a thirty-year wait, and it's not as nice as what you see in Portsmouth, Ironton, Ashland, Gallipolis, Point Pleasant and elsewhere, but it's a good start.

Living along the Ohio River is bad for children?

In my wanderings around the Internet looking for stuff about the Ohio River, I found a study performed by a student at the Ohio State University School of Nursing. I couldn't find a date on this study. I may have overlooked it, as the best place to hide something from a member of my family is putting it in plain sight. But the study cites other research published last year, so it must be fairly new.

The name of the study is "Exploring Health Behaviors and Health Outcomes of Third Graders in Appalachia, Ohio: Does School Location Matter?"

I read part of the abstract. This paragraph was what grabbed my attention:

There is also thought to be health differences within Appalachian sub-regions such as “River Bordering” and “Non-River Bordering” counties. Children who live in Ohio’s Appalachian counties that border the Ohio River are disproportionally exposed to adverse environmental conditions existing along the river that may contribute to disparities in health, available access to care and care utilization (Smith and Holloman, 2011). A comparison between the counties showed children residing in river bordering counties had higher rates of obesity (24.4%) and overweight (17%), than children residing in non-river bordering counties (Smith and Holloman, 2011). The majority of the parents reported that their children were in great health, but their BMI profiles indicated otherwise. Holloman and Smith’s findings suggest that the Appalachian counties that border the Ohio River may be particularly vulnerable in the childhood obesity epidemic. A better understanding of the environmental contexts that contribute to the obesity epidemic is needed. Findings further indicate that gender disparities in child health, particularly obesity, exist (Smith and Holloman, 2011).

So, living along the Ohio River correlates with obesity and overweight than living elsewhere. This must be a new thing, as we had few obese kids when I grew up along Route 7 in Gallia County, Ohio.

And that's as far as I plan to take it right now.


Okay, I couldn't help myself. I found the abstract to the 2011 study. Here is part of it:

Childhood asthma was more prevalent in the river-bordering counties (16.4%) compared to the non-river counties (9.4%). Children with asthma had more sere symptoms in the river bordering counties (8.2%) compared to the non-river bordering counties (4.4%). Children residing in river bordering counties had higher rates of obesity (24.4%) and overweight (17%). After controlling for child health and insurance status, children living in the river bordering counties had less access to care (est. -7.14, CI = -17.3,0.74) and more difficulty accessing specialty care. Children residing in the non-river counties had more sickness care utilization (est. 0.25, CI = 0.01, 0.49). Regardless of region, children with a regular health care provider and place for care were healthier. Differences in child health, access to care and utilization of services exist within Ohio's Appalachian region.

 The part about ashtma reminded me of one of my nephews. He's now a grandfather, but when he was a child I think my brother said his sinuses bothered him most when he got close to the Ohio River. Some people in my home area called it the "Ohio River crud".

Monday, May 4, 2015

Ohio, utility deregulation and a coal-fired power plant along the Ohio River

There seem to be a gazillion things going on with the electric utility industry in Ohio as that state enforces its policy of deregulation. For the most part, that has meant separation of generating and transmission assets, and it has meant companies have shifted ownership of coal-burning power plants from subsidiaries based Ohio to those in other states, such as West Virginia.

Now in Ohio FirstEnergy wants to take a step back from deregulation. It says it needs generating assets to protect its customers from price and supply volatility that would result from having to buy power on the open market. The question is whether consumers and companies that buy electricity from FirstEnergy's three operating companies in Ohio would benefit from this.

For a pretty good overview of the situation, check out this story from the Akron Beacon-Journal.

A parting thought: A lot of people like to complain or gloat about how newspapers are becoming increasing irrelevant to their lives, especially as papers cut back their staffs and move toward more TV-like stories as they must rely on younger and less expensive talent. But if we didn't have full-time reporters, who would bring us stories like this?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

M/V Winnie C

It had been a while since I had seen this boat, so naturally I had to work around the mud left over from the high water.

I spent more time balancing myself on exposed tree roots than I did walking on firm ground. But that's life after high water.