PLACES TO GO ON LAND HOME PLACES TO GO ON WATER
Pomeroy-Mason or US33 Bridge (Mile 251.5) to Syracuse, Ohio (Mile 245.5)
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
(Navigation Charts 159)
I began the day intending to put in at Pomeroy, Ohio – a town that I’d driven through before and really wanted to see a little more of – but when I got to the ramp right in the center of the downtown area I found that they had nothing but metered parking and I avoid paying to park at all costs. Besides being a pet peeve of mine, I just simply can’t afford to spend money on things like this if I can avoid it. I moved on to a free ramp up in the nice little community of Syracuse.
Please don’t get me wrong! I love Pomeroy! Besides having a very unique McDonalds with a boat dock, this community is also very picturesque as you’ll see. Pomeroy is also a somewhat linear community at first glance. With a mountain-like background to restrict its spread, it instead stretches all along the bank of the Ohio with the result being that the whole town is pretty much laid bare. You’ll note the classic look of the downtown area but you’ll also find some very nice looking old homes to go with the inevitable fast food restaurants and grocery stores.
…but did I mention that their McDonald’s has a boat dock?!?
I should state that none of the towns in this section including the largest - Pomeroy and Syracuse, Ohio - seem to have web presences but I have found that they’re both in Meigs County which does have a site: http://www.meigscountyohio.com/index.htm. There’s also a county tourism site (http://www.meigscountytourism.com/) and a Mason County West Virginia website (http://www.masoncounty.wv.gov/Pages/default.aspx
Anyway, as Pomeroy had thrown me a little with the paid parking situation I found that I hadn’t put enough research into the alternative put-ins. I had to stop and ask for directions at the local post office where some nice folks outside helped me out. The town ramp, as it turns out, is almost right in the center of the community amid a park behind the Syracuse Village Office and Hall. Here they have a baseball field, some tennis courts - the whole nine yards. There’s also plenty of parking (along with some overflow) and a nice home just adjacent to the ramp so I did get the feeling that the place is fairly safe.
Anyway, I put in at the ramp and paddled on down to the Pomeroy-Mason Bridge to technically “begin” this section at mile 251.5 and I think the best picture I got of the bridge was taken whilst I was doing so. That’s American Electric Powers’ (http://www.aepriverops.com towboat Robert W. Keeney passing under it. As for the span itself, I described it in more detail in my last downriver entry, but you’ll also notice that quite a bit of rock on the Ohio side must have been cut through to make its’ construction possible…
I also noticed from driving in that there’s a protective wall here that’s been put up at the base of the exposed mountain face (presumably to hold back rockslides) and upon this wall you’ll find some very nice artwork celebrating the community of Pomeroy. I’ll put a picture of one of those up at the first opportunity.
Anyway, it was just under this wall that I had my first encounter with a groundhog (or woodchuck) down on the water! I thought it might have been a beaver at first but I didn’t see the telltale tail! I thus looked it up and found this critter. From what I’ve come to understand groundhogs are usually prone to residing in forests but they’re also known to be great burrowers. A river bank would thus seem to be a good habitat for them too.
It was also at this point that I took the picture below (looking upriver from under the bridge). Downtown Pomeroy looks awesome in the distance doesn’t it? You’ll note, too, the McDonalds sign on the right in Ohio and the greenhouses on the left in West Virginia. This greenhouse space apparently comprises the headquarters of a company called Bob’s Market and Greenhouses, Inc. (http://www.bobsmarket.com/).
Bob’s seems to have a great history! According to the website the Barnitz family started out growing produce in the community of Letart Falls, Ohio, operating as W.O. Barnitz. Then in 1970 their son and his wife incorporated the business to become Bob’s Market and Greenhouses, Inc. They began as a roadside stand but they’ve now got 5 branches. Bob’s is my kind of place – a nice, family run business!
Meanwhile, the McDonalds lies almost directly across the water from Bob’s. In fact, I’m composing this journal from the very spot! They’ve got some great 2-seater tables here overlooking the river which are perfect for watching the water or for writing about it, but the best picture I think I got of this restaurant was when that same tow boat passed – the Roger W. Keeney of AEP. Check it out…
Anyway, right upriver from this – and just before you reach downtown Pomeroy - is another restaurant called the Wild Horse Café (http://thewildhorsecafe.net/). If you’re looking for dining which is a little more upscale this is a good spot. You can check out their menu online and they, too, have a dock.
Next you’ve got downtown Pomeroy at mile 250.5 with its classic-looking waterfront wall, ramp and gazebo. I couldn’t stop taking pictures here as the sun was really cooperating today. I wish it had done so down in Gallipolis as well, but in Pomeroy you could stop and get all manner of supplies at the many stores they have or simply just walk around and check out all the antique shops. There’s a nice web page on the community here: http://www.touring-ohio.com/southeast/pomeroy/pomeroy.html. Also of interest is the building with the golden dome you’ll see. That’s the Meigs Country Courthouse (Pomeroy is the county seat of Meigs County). The vessel in the second picture is the Tennessee Merchant of ACL (American Commercial Lines http://www.aclines.com/).
Anyway, it was whilst I was taking all these photos that I happened to glance at a downed tree on the West Virginia side. It seems I was being watched! By the way, there is another ramp here on this side right across from Pomeroy in Mason, West Virginia and it looks like another great place to put in with a park and plenty of parking…
Once past Pomeroy I couldn’t help but take some more pictures from this point of view, but I was especially taken with all the nice old houses I was seeing in here (I’m a fan of old houses with front porches). …
It was also in here that I startled a little deer on the way down in the morning…
You’ll note on the charts that from mile 249 all the way down to the ramp at Syracuse you’ve got 3 very small communities in Ohio to go with 3 in West Virginia – Minersville, White Rock and Carleton, Ohio and Brownsville, Hartford, and New Haven, West Virginia – the last of which lies just across the river from Syracuse. None of these towns seem to have web presences. They rather seem to be pleasant little farming communities, but it was at this point that the “Mr. King” of McGinness (
http://www.mcginnisinc.com/) passed me to take the lead. I watched as the vessel headed upriver with the mountains behind as a nice backdrop. Then I took the second picture looking back at the communities…
The river is making a pretty strong right curve here too which ends at Syracuse (and the smoke stacks you’ll see in the distance are for and AEP’s Philip Sporn Power Plant up at mile 242) but Ohio Route 124 (the way you might have come in) will be well visible on your left while a railroad track will be with you on your right. It was in here that I found that the barge traffic was getting thicker as two towboats passed me going downstream in quick succession. First came the Jincy of Crounse Corportation (http://www.crounse.com/) followed by the Texas City of Marathon Oil.
As far as incoming streams in this stretch, I didn’t really see much of the Permonkey and Carleton Creeks in Ohio but the Sliding Hill Creek in West Virginia at mile 247 was visible although I couldn’t really get into it due a deadfall right past the mouth.
Later I encountered quite a colorful little shoal on the West Virginia side…
Soon – and about the time you’ll note the L.E.T.S. Dock and Campground in Ohio - you’ll find that the homes of Pomeroy are starting to become more evident and you’ll know that you’re really getting close to the ramp when the river starts to straighten out from its right curve to begin changing direction with a sharp veer to the left at mile 246. The ramp comes right afterward. It sure is beautiful out here!
Finally, here are some last pictures of Pomeroy taken on a separate trip...
You can reach Syracuse via Ohio Route 7. This route follows the river and you can take it north from Gallipolis, Ohio or south from Marietta or Parkersburg to reach the ramp I used. You can also travel directly south from Athens, Ohio on Route 33. Either way, you’ll need to find your way to Route 833 south toward Pomeroy, Ohio
From Route 7, go until you see Route 33 and then instead of heading north toward Athens, travel due south toward Pomeroy on Route 833. If you’re on Route 33 from Athens simply keep going straight ahead (and due south). You’ll find that the road turns into Route 833 toward Pomeroy. Either way, 833 will shortly dead end at the bank of the Ohio River. Go left now on 124 and follow it a few miles into Syracuse. You’ll eventually see the town post office on your right and then a nice looking little restaurant called the River Way Café on your left (you’ll be in the midst of a left curve in the road). Now keep a sharp lookout for Marina Drive on your right. The ramp is at the point this road meets the river. If you miss it it’s OK. Simply take the next right after the ball fields and drive to the back of them. The road will curve right back around to the ramp.