Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Saturday, December 28, 2019

M/V Pat Voss

At Catlettsburg, Ky., this afternoon.

It was a good day to be out and about.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

M/V Avoree Noel

Yeah, it was a little bit foggy this morning at old Lock and Dam 27.

I assume this is the boat's last trip to Monaca. You never know what we'll see if TPP decides to build at Dilles Bottom.

An unexpected photo on Christmas morning

This morning, for the first time in a long time, I didn't have to be anywhere in particular on a morning with clear weather. Before sunrise I was on the road in search of the Avoree Noel, which was upbound with a load for Monaca. By the time I found it, the boat was in fog. I tried getting a few shots anyway.

Then I noticed the Linda Little was downbound with 15 loads of coal drafting more than 10 feet. I got that photo. Again, in the fog.

So I went down the river and waited the fog out. As I waited, I looked up and say a heron flying overhead. I tried getting a shot, just to see how it would turn out.

The photo posted here is 1920 pixels by 1282. The original is 6016 x 4016. I took the resolution down so I wouldn't have wait an eternity for it to load.

Anyway, I zoomed in on the original image and cropped it down to this — a photo that's 442 pixels by 294 pixels, or about 7.7 one half of 1 percent of the original image.

Yeah, that's a bald eagle, not a heron. They've been along the Ohio River for several years, but this was the first time I had been able to photograph one.

It almost makes me want to buy a 600mm lens and go look for another one, but at the present time, I have better uses for $900.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Video of M/V Nancy Sturgis upbound

I haven't been able to get down to the river much lately — weather, work, family obligations and, today, the flu — so I went looking on my memory cards for something I haven't posted yet, and I found this video of the Nancy Sturgis northbound here at Huntington (America's Best Community, according to Frontier Communications).

A lot of us post stills of towboats, but not many post videos of how they sound. Too bad there's no way to record how they smell. A few years ago I was down at the river when the M/V City of Pittsburgh had a crew change on a foggy morning. The boat was so close to shore I could smell the engine room. I don't know that anyone would want to bottle that scent. Too bad, because it could come in handy. You know, like car dealers spray that new car smell on the interiors of vehicles on their pre-owned lot.

This video is short, but because I live in the country I don't have access to fast upload speeds. This thing took about 50 minutes to upload, which feels like an eternity. This is why my son Adam, when he uploads stuff to his YouTube channel (Project 681), goes to the Marshall University campus and uses their internet so he's not spending hours on the task.

It almost makes me want to enroll at Marshall for one class just so I can claim student status and access their internet.

That's my update for this week. Now I'm going back to bed if you all don't mind.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Silver Memorial Bridge at 50

Today is the 52nd anniversary of the collapse of the Silver Bridge, but it's also the 50th anniversary of the day its replacement, the Silver Memorial Bridge, opened to traffic about a mile downstream.

Soon after the old bridge fell, President Lyndon Johnson and others pledged to have another open within two years. It's not as though this was a project that had been in the works. In the late 1960s, very few Ohio River bridges in this part of the river were targeted for replacement. The new bridges we got were mainly those built for the interstate highway system, which was still under construction.

The late 1960s were also the days before the EPA, NEPA and other agencies and laws that required all sorts of studies and public meetings before a bridge could be built. There was no worry about how the new bridge would affect the pink mucket pearly mussel, the Indiana bat, the arctic peregrine falcon, the Kirtland warbler or other species whose known habitat or range was close to the bridge.

If I recall correctly, time was saved by building the bridge downstream from the mouth of  the Kanawha River at Point Pleasant. That meant both ends and approaches were built on land that was mostly vacant. It also meant the city of Point Pleasant lost a lot of vehicle traffic. Also, I seem to recall that construction was accelerated because plans for an already existing bridge were adapted and used for the Silver Memorial Bridge.

When the bridge opened, it was the first four-lane Ohio River bridge between Cincinnati and at least Marietta and possibly further up the river. In the half century since, we've seen a lot of four-lane bridges built, but this was the first in this part of the valley.

The bridge had its problems in its early days. As with several bridges of its era, it was built of a type of steel that developed problems in its butt weld cracks (I have to practice to get it right), and it was closed for repairs for several months in the summer of 1977. The state of West Virginia provided free ferry service while the bridge was closed. By then I had a license and a car and developed an enjoyment of Ohio River ferries.

The Silver Bridge probably would have been replaced and demolished by now. Its site is marked by a memorial in Point Pleasant. As many people know, it had a sister bridge of similar design at St. Marys, W.Va., known as the Hi Carpenter Bridge. After the Silver Bridge fell and engineers determined it had a critical design flaw, the St. Marys bridge was closed, demolished and replaced with another bridge about a mile downstream. The new bridge is almost a twin of the Silver Memorial Bridge except that it has a sidewalk on the side facing St. Marys, while the Silver Memorial Bridge has none.

The Silver Memorial Bridge was painted silver in tribute to its predecessor, and in subsequent repaintings has keptsthat color. It has served its market well these 50 years, and it should be noted the Silver Memorial Bridge has been in service longer than the original Silver Bridge was.

Photo: From summer 1985 or possibly October of that year. Taken at Tu-Endie-Wie park in Point Pleasant. The M/V Mr. Jesse Barr of G&C Towing exits the Kanawha River with several barges loaded with coal.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Dirty sensor, now clean

There have been several reasons I haven't been down to the river as much as I would like the past couple of weeks. Work, family, weather ... you know. One reason can be seen in this photo.

I cropped it and upped the contrast so you could see all the stuff that had gathered on my camera's sensor. I watched a couple of YouTube videos about how to clean your sensor. I didn't want to do it and mess up the sensor, because that would destroy a camera I've had for a little over a year, but I had to.

It only took me three swabs to get it clean. Actually, two. I dropped the first one and contaminated it. I used the second one to clean the sensor and then I took a couple of test photos. One little dot remained. You might not have noticed it, but I did, so I cleaned the sensor again. This time it looks like I got it all.

I'm hoping it was just dust. From what I'm told, it's a common problem with digital cameras, although I didn't have it so much with my older DSLR. Otherwise I might have one of those famous Nikon oil problems. We'll have to wait and see.

Monday, December 9, 2019

A gray morning in America's Best Community

I didn't get much sleep last night. I woke up around 3 a.m. thinking about ... well, the thoughts were not all pleasant. Eventually I fell back into sleep for about half an hour before I surrendered to my late-night restlessness and got up around 6.

To settle my soul, I went down to the river, where I can usually find some calm. I found calm, all right. The surface was glass, but the morning was chill and cloudy and gray. There was a slight sprinkle. Not the heavy rain that sucks all the joy out of your life, but a pesty one, like a younger sibling.

I got a few shots and went to work in my role as a thought leader of the Huntington-Ashland metropolitan area.

Now here it is night, and I'm recovering from spending two hours on the phone with my cell phone carrier asking why it takes two months to replace a phone that died while it was still under warranty.

On the bright side, I got to spend a few minutes with my older granddaughter, so there was some joy in this drab day.

Tomorrow night we could get some snow. When do pitchers and catchers report?

Saturday, December 7, 2019

M/V Mary Ellen Jones, part 2

Before I move on to something I've been pondering for a while, one more photo of the M/V Mary Ellen Jones, as seen Thursday morning at Virginia Point Park in Kenova, W.Va., at the mouth of the Big Sandy River.

I'm still taking river photos, but I haven't posted a lot because my shooting time is down for various reasons. If all goes as planned, I'll be doing something next week that I've been pondering for a while. I'll be interested to see if there is any reaction.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

M/V Mary Ellen Jones

There were several boats at Big Sandy harbor this morning, meaning I have a lot more photos than I can process in one night. So let's start with a few of the M/V Mary Ellen Jones of Amherst Madison.

More to come in the next couple of days if all goes well. So far December has been better than November in that regard.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Let me know when April gets here

So I can get photos like this again.

Green trees > naked trees.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Back after an unplanned hiaitus

To paraphrase an old saying, November is what happens while you're making other plans. And we'll leave it at that.

I hope to have some good stuff coming up soon. There will be towboat pictures, but more, too.

Meanwhile, here is a photo left over from the Marathon triple christening back in October.

I just realized today that I have been tardy in getting pictures from that event posted. I will try to remedy that soon, but I make no promises. December could be a lot like November.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Monday, November 18, 2019

Side by side by side

My son Adam and I decided to get a couple of pictures of the M/V Hoosier State as it came through our area yesterday evening. This being November, you might know we would catch it as the sun was about to drop down over the hill. Around here the river runs north to south, so if you want to get good light on a boat in the afternoon, you need to be on the Ohio side of the river. The problem is that a good part of Ohio Route 7 near the river is right up against a hill, so the shadows come early. Or as Yogi Berra said of the shadows in left field of Yankee Stadium, it gets late awful early out there.

We found a decent shooting spot, but as we set up we saw the M/V Yvonne Conway and the M/V Melvin R. Todd coming up the Ohio, with the Conway in front. It looked like the Hoosier State and the Conway would meet at about the spot we had set up. Then the Todd looked like it was about to pass the Conway. No way, we thought. Way, the Conway's pilot said.

So as luck would have it, the Hoosier State, the Melvin R. Todd and the Yvonne Conway met in the same spot.

Were it not for the trees, this shot would have been a lot better, but the pilots of the three boats didn't think to call us ahead of time and ask us where we would like to get the shot. Oh, for a drone, I thought. I don't recall seeing three boats and barge tows side by side by side on the Ohio before when all three were moving.

After this, Adam and I went ahead down to the boat ramp at Athalia, Ohio, where we got more shots and video of the Hoosier State. The sun had about set and we were fighting the oncoming darkness as we snapped away,

We hope to catch it the next time it's up our way. It's one of our favorite boats to chase,

Sunday, November 17, 2019

M/V Hoosier State

The M/V Hoosier State is one of our favorite boats for a good reason.

Today, Adam and I got to see it downbound past Miller and Athalia, Ohio.

We don't know if or when it will be up this way again, so we had to take the chance to see it. Adam got some video. If he posts it to his YouTube channel, I'll let you know.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Loads beyond the rakes

M/V Alan P. Hall, again

While everyone was getting nice river pictures yesterday, whether they were on the Ohio, the Mississippi or the Missouri, I was stuck at home fighting off something that's going around. But I did have to go out for a few minutes in the afternoon. A trip that was supposed to take a half hour took more like ninety minutes as this happened and that happened.

But I did manage to see the M/V Alan P. Hall of Amherst Madison going down the river pushing 15 loads.

The weather is supposed to be good today. We'll see if I can get out for a little bit.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Two more photos

Let's see if these help get you through the weather that's forecast for today.

The M/V Energy picking up a tow on a foggy morning at Virginia Point Park, Kenova, W.Va.

At a riverboat christening, tradition demands that an American flag and at least one Bible be presented to the captain for use on the boat. When Marathon Petroleum christened three boats (from left, the Patoka, Mt. Vernon and Kenova) on Oct. 8, 2019, each boat received three Bibles. Here they are displayed on a table before the formal part of the ceremony began. The ceremony took place in Catlettsburg, Ky.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

M/V Enid Dibert

When you want to shoot something but don't know if there's something on the river to shoot, look around for a Crounse boat. Many times they're good for a photo or two, as happened yesterday morning when the M/V Enid Dibert came through the Huntington area in that glorious October morning light.

Pardon me if I got a little artsy with these images. I wanted to try a few things.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

M/V Miss Ivy Brynne

The Miss Ivy Brynne (don't ask me how to pronounce that name) passed Huntington today, so I figured I would get some pics.

I couldn't let that October morning light go to waste.

According to what I found on the Coast Guard site, this is the former M/V City of Redwood.

Next up: The M/V Enid Dibert was right behind.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

M/V Alan P. Hall

I've been sitting on this since late summer and wondering what to do with it. Tonight I figured I would play with it a little.

I'm not totally satisfied with this, so I might try again someday. We'll put it on my "maybe to-do list".

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Red barge in morning

There was some awful pretty light out on the Ohio River this morning.

Now if only the Delta Queen was out there in that fog and heading into the sun ...

You have your fantasies. I have mine.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Two boats at Mile 317, 10/22/19

In the past when we've seen boats with retractable pilothouses on my part of the Ohio River, the pilothouses have been in the raised position, With the M/V Patoka in our area now, I guess we'll get used to seeing them like this.

And on this particular morning I got to see the M/V Duke fairly close for the first time.

It was a gray morning, but a good one.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

M/V Roger W Keeney

Yesterday I was sitting in my office in beautiful downtown Huntington WV (America's Best Community) when a photographer at the paper emailed me with a photo she had taken of a towboat that was Harris Riverfront Park. She had the photo but no information.

As the park entrance is only three blocks from the paper, I walked down there and saw the M/V Roger W Keeney there. As I gazed at it and got some pictures with my phone, a guy on the boat struck up a conversation with me. I introduced myself and we talked. A few minutes later another guy came out of the pilothouse and joined the conversation.

I was told the Keeney was at the park awaiting a part it needed before it could go back, pick up its tow and resume its trip. Soon Capt. Randy Chapman, manager of linehaul operations, showed up to tell the crew they would have to wait a little longer for the part to be delivered. Chapman and I sat and talked for maybe 20 minutes about the industry, the companies he's worked for, the boats he's worked on and such. We exchanged some funny river-related stories before my lunch hour ended.

As it turns out, I was glad I texted my younger son to tell him the Keeney was at the park. He had gone with me Pittsburgh in spring 2017 to attend the christening of the M/V Tommy H, a boat similar if not identical to the Keeney.

Adam arrived and got a photo of the Keeney with his phone while I was back at work. He texted to tell me another tug-and-tow combination was coming up the Ohio and I had time to walk down there to see it. Too bad I had to stay at my desk and finish my work day.

I got home and my phone would not let me download the photos I took. And it would not connect to the internet. This is a problem I've had for a few weeks. Lucky for me Adam had emailed me a photo he took of the Keeney.

So tomorrow I'll probably get a new phone I'll be a responsible citizen and recycle the old one, although it would interesting to see how far I could throw it from a bridge. But I won't do that.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Charles Jones passes

Charles Jones, who as head of Amherst Madison was one of the most recognizable names in the marine industry in the Ohio Valley, died yesterday at the age of 101.

It's difficult to describe how well known and liked Jones was.

I did a feature on him in 2017 for The State Journal of Charleston, W.Va. Alas, I cannot find that article anywhere so that I may link to it. Jones was a Navy veteran who served in Japan immediately after World War II. He grew up in the family's coal and transportation businesses. Of late Amherst Madison has been involved in transportation and construction.

Back in 2012, I wrote an article for The State Journal when a towboat pilot simulator was named in honor of Jones' late son, O. Nelson Jones. I likewise cannot find that article to link to, but I did have a blog entry about it.

More to come as other articles are written that I can link to.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Pier shadows

Ever notice how shadows move over the course of a day? Take the Sixth Street Bridge here at Huntington, West Virginia. The bridge runs north-south, so the piers face the south. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun tracks across the southern half of the sky, so the shadows of the bridge against the pier move in a counterclockwise direction throughout the day.

I like this angle myself.

Because we're in the western half of the Eastern time zone and because we're still on Daylight Savings Time, the shadows aren't vertical until after noon ... even around 1 p.m. or so.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Auto photography beside the Ohio River

I went down to the river around noon and what did I see but a couple of guys with cars bearing dealer tags getting photos.

There are worse places for getting car photos than beside the Ohio River.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Foggy morning at Big Sandy harbor

Warm river plus cool air plus a wannabe photographer equals pictures.

A boat at the Marathon Petroleum (or to be technical, MPLX) dock.

The M/V Jincy.

The M/V Energy at Virginia Point Park in Kenova, W.Va.

Finally, from the wall at old Big Sandy Lock and Dam 1, which I think was taken out of service in 1961, when the Greenup Locks and Dam raised its pool.

It had hoped to get a harbor boat coming out of or going into the Big Sandy, but it was not to be.

Monday, October 14, 2019

A good story and a photo

If you would like to read a good story about a land-based river business in Wellsville, Ohio, try this one out. It tells the story of Pier 48, which handles steel and bulk commodities in a barge-to-truck dock. The details of Pier 48's soybean business surprised me. It's the kind of story I like to write.

And if you're in need of a towboat picture ...

The Patoka will spend most of its time on the Ohio and the Mt Vernon on the Mississippi, so it's hard telling when the two will be side-by-side at the same dock again.