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Ohio River

 

Sandy Creek (Mile 220.5) to Gunners Run (Mile 215)

 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

 

(Navigation Charts 163 and 164)

 

 

Today I put in for a second time at the ramp that’s located amid the Washington Western Lands Park and Museum in Ravenswood, West Virginia.  This put in is located right on the grounds of old lock and dam #22 and they’ve preserved the structures quite well.  In fact, the whole area has been transformed into a large park that provides a great recreational opportunity for the community – an opportunity that I see they take full advantage of!  A sign posted here announced the coming of an Oktoberfest celebration!

 

Today I got on the water pretty early and once I did was greeted with a thick fog which will be evident in some of the pictures, yet in the interest of clarity most of my photos were taken on the return trip in order to portray the scenes out here in the best possible light (figuratively and literally!).

 

 

 

 

 

Sandy Creek, the point from which I’ll begin my narration this time, is a stream that I explored more fully in the last section.  You’ve got to check this one out if you can!  It goes back a good 3 ½ miles with the slack water ending at an incredibly picturesque old lock and dam.  Photos of this scene, along with others of the Sandy Creek, can be found in my last journal journal:  http://destressoutdoors.com/ohiorivergrannysruntosandycreek.html.

 

 

Paddling past the mouth of the Sandy, you’ll note a second Ravenswood ramp located just upriver. This one is much smaller than the one back at the park with only limited parking.  It lies in the midst of a little neighborhood located off Water Street on the southern side of town.  Interesting here is that two parallel streets in Ravenswood - Mulberry and Walnut Streets - eventually converge to form a “U” at the water.  Water Street comprises the curve in the “U”.

 

 

 

Beyond this point I noted an old discarded barge on this Ohio side along with some steps which had been carved into a steep, muddy portion of the bank.  These steps provided easier access to a nice looking rope swing setup!

 

 

I also have to put up the picture below.  It was taken near this point as I looked back toward Ravenswood…

 

 

At mile 219.5 you’ll find the mouth of the Turkey Run in West Virginia.  I only got back into this one about 50 yards or so, but I was intrigued by the scene which caught my eye when I looked back toward the main river. Smoke on the water!  Every time I see this I get that Blue Oyster Cult song in my head and I can’t get it out.  Not that that’s such a bad thing!  Dick Dale, the surf guitar master, does an amazing rendition of this tune by the way! I’ve seen him do it live and there are some videos you can catch on Youtube.com of it.

 

 

Meanwhile, just across the river from Turkey Run in Ohio, you’ll find a couple light and day markers.  One comes at mile 219.5 (it’s named after Ravenswood Bend) and one lies just up ahead of it at mile 218.5 (named for Buffington Island).  Sandwiched between these is the Groundhog Creek.  Today I got in about 300 yards, but also notable here was how far the farmland stretched back into the distance in Ohio.

 

Next up – Buffington Island!  This land mass is about 2 ½ miles in circumference by my estimation and it was apparently once the site of a famous Civil War battle.  Today it comprises a portion of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge (http://www.fws.gov/northeast/ohioriverislands/), a conservancy which owns 22 of these islands on the upper Ohio in addition to having some more tracts of land onshore. 

 

 

Today I paddled around the right side of the island in the morning, at which time I encountered Kirby Inland Marines’ (http://www.kirbycorpjobs.com/about_Kirby/ City of Natchez towboat.  This had been the third trip in a row that I’d seen one of Kirby’s vessels. 

 

 

I also noticed what looked like an old cabin on this side of the island…

 

 

Something else: if you, too, paddle around this (right) side you’ll note that the Little Sandy Creek enters the Ohio at mile 217 in West Virginia.  This stream comes in at about the mid-way point of the island and today I was able to get in about ½ mile, in the process finding an interesting spot where there’s an old brick structure back on the left side.  There might have been a bridge here at one point, or possibly an old grist mill.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting back to the island, however, I later paddled around the left (West Virginia) side of it too in order that I could see it from that perspective and get some clearer pictures in the sun.  This is the smaller of the two channels, but perhaps the more scenic…

 

 

 

 

Once you emerge back at the main channel you’ll note that perhaps the most striking feature is the mountainside in West Virginia near the community of Portland Station. It’s been carved out to make room for some railroad tracks, and the striations in the rock make for some interesting scenes.  This is at mile 216.  (Skull Run enters the river in here but it’s not paddle-able, coming as it does under a small culvert.)

 

 

Next passing a Shelley Materials (http://www.shellyco.com/services.php) location at mile 216.5, Gunners Run will be soon to follow.  Shelley is apparently a subsidiary of Oldcastle Inc. (http://www.oldcastle.com/index.php) and you’ll encounter their mining operations all over the river.  “From Rock to Roads” is their motto.  They provide the materials, such as asphalt, that are used in road construction.

 

 

 

 

Gunners Run (a.k.a. Wheaton Run) is a stream that you’ll unlikely be able to get into very far. It marks the location of another light and day marker of the same name.  A house and what looks like a primitive campground are also here.  Note the grass as well.  It looks red, doesn’t it?  I’m guessing this is due to some form of moss.

 

 

At this point I headed back, but I was soon to find out that the next upriver sections would be more time consuming to explore given the distance between the ramps!

 

On a final note, I was to encounter the scenes below on my drive back home on WV Route 2.  I couldn’t resist putting them up…

 

 

 

 

DIRECTIONS:

 

 

I’ll describe this in two ways:  the first is a general way to come while the second is how I came from Point Pleasant, West Virginia.


GENERAL

 

The put-in I used today is right in the midst of the community of Ravenswood, West Virginia. Ravenswood is about half way between Charleston and Parkersburg, so the best option is to take I77 and get off at exit 146.  Then head north on what will be a combined U.S. Route 33 and WV Route 2.  The road will shortly begin to make a sharp left curve as you cross over Shady Creek and then you’ll come to WV68.  Take a right here, go past the bridge and both US33 cut offs and then immediately look for the park (the Washington Western Land Park and Museum) on your left.  To reach the ramp parking lot you’ll turn left once in the park.

 

HOW I CAME

 

From the McDonalds in downtown Point Pleasant, West Virginia I headed out of town on State Route 2 toward Ravenswood.  Take Route 2 all the way.  It’s about 30 miles but be aware that there are a couple places that could throw you. This road is one-lane and it has plenty of curves.  At the same time, State Route 62 meets up with it about 3 times.  You’ll want to veer to the left (sometimes sharply) at these intersections.

 

If you come this way there’s another spot you’ll need to be aware of until they fix it.  At one point the land has eroded part of your north-bound lane away and they haven’t fully addressed the problem.  Instead, they’ve put up some markers and a stop sign at which you’re supposed to stop for oncoming cars.  The problem is that in the five times I’ve come this way to explore different parts of the river I’ve never seen anyone stop here!  In fact, this spot has seemingly become a place to play “chicken”.  It’s a little scary.  I had a couple cars whiz right by me as I was slowing down to stop here and as I was coming back the last time I saw a car coming at me that was set to reach this spot at the exact same time I was.  It was his lane that was partially blocked, yet as I slowed down to stop he never wavered at all.  He came right on through at about 55 or so, veered into my lane right in front of me to avoid the spot, and kept on going.  I may have saved 2 lives by stopping!  Never mind the fact that the road is eroding away and that it could sink right away at any minute,  one of the most catastrophic head-on crashes on record could occur here as a result of reckless stupidity!  They need to fix this!  

 

Anyway, keep following the Ravenswood signs.  When you get close you’ll see a large blue bridge over the river and the road will become 2 lanes.  At this point you’ll want to get in the left lane to turn left onto a combination US33/Route 68.  After you’ve made the turn stay straight (don’t go over the bridge!) and you’ll see a park on your left.  Turn left into it (and over the railroad tracks) to enter and then the ramp will be to your left as you pull into the parking lot.

 

The put-in I used today is right in the midst of the community of Ravenswood, West Virginia. Ravenswood is about half way between Charleston and Parkersburg, so the best option is to take I77 and get off at exit 146.  Then head north on what will be a combined U.S. Route 33 and WV Route 2.  The road will shortly begin to make a sharp left curve as you cross over Shady Creek and then you’ll come to WV68.  Take a right here, go past the bridge and both US33 cut offs and then immediately look for the park (the Washington Western Land Park and Museum) on your left.  To reach the ramp parking lot you’ll turn left once in the park.