Saturday, June 30, 2018

Dead on arrival?

Way back in 1992 I covered, among other things, the federal bureaucracy for The Herald-Dispatch, the daily newspaper in Huntington, W.Va., which was not yet known as America's Best Community. Early that year, the White House announced that President George H.W. Bush wanted to streamline the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by consolidating some district and division offices. Here on the Ohio River, the White House plan would eliminate the Huntington District office and move its work to the Pittsburgh District.

Yeah, that went over really well here.

At the time, about 500 people worked in the district office in downtown Huntington. It was one of the largest employers in the city and the county. After several days or weeks of public outcry, a rally was on the main drag through town. The Huntington High School marching band performed and all sorts of people had their say.

As usual, the big name at such an event was Sen. Robert C. Byrd. The senator knew the power of a sound bite, and he gave us a good one. The White House plan, Byrd said, was "dead on arrival."

It was difficult to not think of Byrd's sound bite — little else of that event remains in my memory — as I read of the most recent proposal to reorganize the federal government. The administration wants to move the navigation functions of the Corps of Engineers to the Department of Transportation and the functions relating to flood control to the Department of Interior. Right now the Corps controls almost everything relating to the flow of rivers and smaller streams. This  plan would divide all that.

Is the latest White House proposal politically viable, or is it dead on arrival? The former editorial writer in me can only draw on that overused phrase, "It remains to be seen."

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Two boats at Huntington

A big dark cloud came between me and the sun as the M/V Donna York came upriver past beautiful downtown Huntington, W.Va., and the Queen of the Mississippi, which had tied up for the night. I decided to get a picture anyway.

As the York passed under the bridge where I was standing, I saw a person out on its tow looking back at the boat, the bridge and the setting sun behind the clouds. She or he appeared to be holding a phone camera. Perhaps we will see the photos on line sometime.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Queen of the Mississippi returns

She was back in Huntington this evening for an overnight stop.

First, as seen from a hill in Ohio overlooking the city. My thanks to Paul Hart for allowing me access to his property.

Then as seen from the 6th Street bridge.

The boat was the only part of this scene in direct sunlight. Everything else was in the shadow of a cloud.

Perhaps more later. It's late now.

From the archives: The Delta Queen

This morning a former coworker who happened to buy me lunch the other day asked for a favor: a scanned copy of an old photo of a boat that left the Ohio River a few decades ago. I located a copy, although not a really good one, scanned it and forwarded it to him.

In the process, I figured I might as well scan some other photos from the 1970s and 1980s while I had everything hooked up. Several of those pictures were of the Delta Queen, seen here docking at the Gallipolis, Ohio, riverfront sometime in the 1980s.

If the politics can be worked out, the Delta Queen might get back on the river someday. If so, it will be an event that will be documented heavily. People will line banks and drones will be in the air to see the old boat. I already have my shooting spots picked out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Something new

I'm trying to expand the reach of my Ohio River output, so as of yesterday I started a new page on Facebook called Ohio981. It's not a replacement for this Ohio River Blog, but rather a complement.

There will be some content sharing, but there will also content that is unique to both sites. Expect links from one to the other as content dictates.

So if you don't mind, please check out Ohio981 on Facebook.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Queen of the Mississippi

The boat stopped in Huntington this morning on its way upriver and I was able to get a few pictures. Here is a sample without comment.

The American Queen should be here in July.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

M/V Mister Mac returns

Look who was back in the Huntington area today with another load for the Shell cracker at Monaca,  Pa.

If my count is right, this is the fifth big load that has come up the river for the cracker.

In the news and stuff, 6/24/2018

The future of the Cave-In-Rock ferry could be decided tomorrow. Ferries are cool. Ferries are fun. Ferries are tourist attractions and ferries connect river communities that aren't big enough to justify a bridge.

Too bad the economics don't work out for us to have more ferries on the Ohio River. Maybe they will someday.

Here's another take on the story.

# # #

Another power plant is being built in Ohio. As usual, it will be powered by natural gas. And it's being built in a part of southeast Ohio that used to be considered coal country but is now Utica shale country.

# # #

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has received funding for improvements to the dams on the upper Ohio, particularly the Montgomery Locks and Dam, which is in the worst shape of the bunch. This round of money will be used for design work.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

One towboat, two kayaks

Sorry for my absence, but I've been occupied by (good) family matters the past few days.

Sunday I went up to old Lock and Dam 27 to see the M/V Marathon head up the river.

Before it arrived at my shooting spot, a couple of kayakers decided to paddle down the river. I had hoped they and the Marathon would pass right in front of me, but it was not to be.

But it was an interesting sight anyway, what with the differences in size and propulsion and all.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The steamer Vesta

Working on a personal project that will be adapted to this blog eventually, I have been reading old, old issues of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune. Sometimes I find interesting stuff, such as articles that reveal the history of residential electrical service in the Gallipolis, Ohio, and Point Pleasant, W.Va., areas in the 1920s.

And sometimes there are interesting nuggets that make me dig out reference materials. Back 80 to 100 years ago, the Daily Tribune ran a daily column called News of the River that reported on boat movements, dam news and personal gossip pertaining to the Ohio and Kanawha river.

On Monday, April 26, 1937, the newspaper reported the following:

The steamer Vesta of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation passed through the Gallipolis locks early today with a tow of about 12 barges loaded with steel products for delivery to Memphis and New Orleans. Captain R.M. Brown was in charge as master, with R.J. Culp as pilot and Alex Lees as chief engineer.

Many readers of this blog will recognize the Vesta as the original name of the M/V J.S. Lewis. After name changes and upgrades, the boat continued to push coal on the Ohio and Kanawha rivers into the 1980s and perhaps beyond. Nowadays it spends most of its time tied up at Amherst Madison's home office on the Kanawha River just above Charleston.

The J.S. Lewis pushing a coal tow on the Ohio River in the 1980s.

When the J.S. Lewis does get out on the river it's a sight, as it is one of the few remaining operating links to the steam era. The Lewis was built in 1931 and was converted to diesel power in 1958. A person could write a long, long piece about this boat, which I might have to do sometime, but probably not right now.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

A good day for seeing boats

This should wrap up my photo expedition from a couple of day ago, although you never know what I'll find when I look at the pictures again in a few days.

First, here is the M/V Bernard P upbound at Ashland, Ky., with its load of equipment for the Shell cracker plant under construction at Monaca, Pa. I'm not sure what's in the barge tied up to the shore next to the Ashland riverfront park, but given that Ashland has been big in metal, I'm guessing it's scrap metal.

Here is the M/V Marathon lightboat passing the mouth of the Big Sandy River.

And here is Ingram's Sarah L. Ingram at Catlettsburg, Ky. It spent some time at the place called Merdie Boggs, whose formal name I don't know now that Ingram as acquired it. It will take some time for me to learn to call it something other than Boggs' Landing.

Up at Huntington, I wanted to go home, but the Bernard P was in sight and there was this colorful coal tow coming down the river.

It was the M/V Michael J. Grainger. As I was processing this image, I accidentally hit a button to make it monochrome, and I decided I liked it better that way. The previous image worked better in color, but this one looked pretty good in black and white.

Here's the Grainger heading down the river with the Bernard P taking its time coming upriver.

As it passed the bridge, the Bernard P met this canal boat from Marathon Petroleum.

"I've been on that boat," I said out loud as it passed under me. Specifically, I was at its christening in Cincinnati in September 2016.

After that, it was time to go home and celebrate the fact I got to see seven boats that day when some days I don't see any.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Moving barges at Kenova

Sometimes you're standing there, shooting away as the M/V Mr. King moves barges around for the M/V Energy and you realize something is wrong. Your next camera will have a voice that asks, "You changed some settings for the previous photo. Are you sure you want to continue shooting with settings you don't normally use?"

My camera is not that smart, so I did my best to salvage the images I got yesterday at the mouth of the Big Sandy River. Here they are without comment.

Coming soon are photos of other boats I saw yesterday. It was an unusually busy day around here.

M/V Marathon and others

Yesterday while I was at Virginia Point Park in Kenova, W.Va., at the mouth of the Big Sandy River, there was a lot of river activity going on. Here deckhands from the M/V Energy are working on the wires of a tow while the M/V Marathon heads upriver lightboat behind them.

More photos of the Energy and the process of moving barges around to come.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

M/V Bernard P

The third tow (that we know of) of supplies for the ethane cracker under construction at Monaca,  Pa., passed through the Huntington area today. I went to Ashland, Ky., intending to get just one picture, but on the way back up the river, I saw so many boats that I wondered if I would ever get home. Every time I started walking to the car, I saw something that needed to be in a picture.

Anyway, here are four photos of the Bernard P. More may come later.

First,  passing under the highway bridges at Ashland, Ky.

I had considered going up on the sidewalk of the green bridge and getting an overhead shot, but I did that with the Mister Mac and I wanted to try something different.

Next, an overhead view of the cargo.

And of the boat and its cargo.

Finally, passing the Highlawn neighborhood of Huntington,  as seen from across the river at Bradrick, Ohio.

There are lots more photos on two memory cards. That means lots more blog entries to come.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Crounse boats

Every now and then I refer to the new Crounse Corp. boats. In this case, “new” is relative as the boats such as the M/V Leslie M. Neal …

… are getting close to being 10 years old.

According to Coast Guard documentation, the Linda Reed, Paula Ruble, Jackie Englert and Janis R. Brewer all were built in 2009. The Leslie M. Neal was built in 2010. They were built when marine companies were building several new boats for use on the Ohio. Among them were AEP and Marathon Petroleum. Each company's new boats had a distinctive look.

Compared to the Hillman boats, which would be in their 60s, or the Dravo Vikings, which would be  in their late 30s to early 40s, perhaps 8 or 9 years old is “new”.

They’re still a joy to photograph, and the closer the better. I’ve not been nearly as close to one as I would like, meaning closer than this …

… but give me time.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

M/V Linda Reed and M/V Leslie M. Neal

Today I had the pleasure of seeing two of the new Crounse boats, although the sightings were several miles and several hours apart.

First was the M/V Linda Reed, seen here hugging the West Virginia shore opposite Clipper Mill, Ohio. Or is it Clipper Mills? The last time I paid attention, the highway sign at one end of town had it singular and the one at the other end had it plural.

Closer to sunset, here is the M/V Leslie M. Neal. It's been a fairly frequent visitor to the upper Ohio of late. It was seen from the area below the bend at Crown City, Ohio.

Although I like the picture I got of the Linda Reed today, it's not my favorite picture with the boat in it. That would be ...

... this one.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Crew change in the morning fog

I was looking in my archives for something and I found this.

Not quite three years ago I posted posted a version that was cropped more tightly, but for this one all I cropped out was some river at the bottom. That took it down from a 4:3 to a 3:2. This boat was the M/V City of Pittsburgh. It was so close to the shore that I could smell it.

The bridge in the background is the Robert C. Byrd Bridge, known locally as the Sixth Street Bridge.

Six on, six off criticized

Here is an accident investigation report critical of the maritime industry's traditional work schedule of six hours on and six hours off.

I'm not competent to pass judgment, so I'll just pass it along.

Hat tip to Joe Kincaid.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

M/V Savage Insight and M/V Capt. Gerald Boggs

My morning walk down by the river was interrupted — in a good way — when I saw two boats.

First up was the M/V Savage Insight, owned by Savage Inland Marine.

The  Savage Insight is 92.6 feet long, 34 feet wide and 10 feet deep. It was built in 2011 by Eastern Shipbuilding Group. It was one of 35 towboats Savage Inland Marine acquired from Settoon Towing last year. Under Settoon's ownership, the Savage Insight was named the Shirley P. Settoon.

When Savage bought the boats from Settoon, it changed their names, with most if not all beginning with the name "Savage". Among the are the Savage Journey, the Savage Ingenuity and the Savage Legacy. The sort-of Star Wars fan in me hopes to see a Savage Opress some day, but that falls into the "ain't happening" category.

The other boat was the M/V Capt. Gerald Boggs of AEP.

While we think of the Boggs as being an AEP boat, technically it is owned by BB&T Equipment Finance Corp. It was built in 1977 by St. Louis Ship and was originally named the Edwin A. Lewis. It is 127.7 feet by 44 feet by 9 feet.

Sorry, no Star Wars references for this boat except that it came out the same year the first Star Wars movie did. Oh great, now I'll be playing Star Wars and Star Trek references with boats on the Ohio.