Monday, April 13, 2020

Maneuvering boat needs a new home

The most recent issue of the Waterways Journal came in today's mail, and it carried an article near and dear to my heart. No, I didn't write it.

The Louisville District of the Corps of Engineers is looking for a new home for the maneuver boat that once raised and lowered wickets at Locks and Dam 52. The boat was made redundant about 18 months ago when the Olmsted Locks and Dam raised its pool. Olmsted replaced dams 52 and 53.

The maneuver boat for 53 was scrapped long ago, but the one from 52 is available if you have a place for it and can remove it from Corps property.

This is of interest here for two reasons. One is that I am a fan of the old wicket dams. I got here too late in the game to have memories of them other than three trips to the lower Ohio. The other is that on July 2, 1986, I got to go out on the boat. The dam was up and the boat was tied to the shore or the lock or something, but I was allowed to step on board. I felt the heat of the boilers, and that was something.

I was there as part of a trip exploring parts of the Ohio River I hadn't seen. I had previously established a working relationship with the Public Affairs Office of the Louisville District, so when I arrived at Dam 52 I was allowed the run of the place and photograph whatever I wanted, even on the esplanade. Those were the good old days before 9/11.

I got to see the boat again on July 25, 2018, thanks to a trip arranged by the Waterways Council Inc. While I was at Olmsted, I asked District Engineer Antoinette Gant if I could visit and photograph Dam 52, and she approved. Some of what I saw that day is here, here and here. For safety reasons I was not allowed down by the river at the lock or anywhere near the boat. As a Baptist minister of my acquaintance would say, ding dang it.

So now it's time to play PowerBall and see if I can win enough money to have the boat towed to a good home. Yeah, like that's going to happen. I do hope it can find a place in a museum and be put on display similar to the one up on the Ohio side of the Hannibal Locks and Dam.

Somehow we need to save what little is left of those old dams. We've managed to save some, but this is a part of river history that needs to be rescued.