PLACES TO GO ON LAND HOME PLACES TO GO ON WATER
Point Pleasant, West Virginia (Mile 265) to Cheshire, Ohio (Mile 257.5)
Thursday, June 28, 2012
(Navigation Charts 156 – 157)
This ramp in Cheshire is so nice I ended up using it 2 trips in a row. It’s in a pleasant spot and it comes complete with plenty of parking and a port-a-bathroom. Check out the mussels at the bottom of the ramp too. Perhaps these are the zebra mussels I’ve heard so much about? They look interesting although zebras are supposed to be an environmental hazard. Hopefully this is another, more friendly type…
The trip today had originally been planned for Tuesday but I’d found that the wind gusts that day were strong enough to have me paddling in the opposite direction – upstream. Funny how the wind and not the current can dictate ones direction! Anyway, I was looking forward to checking out both the power plant and the island across from the ramp today.
First things first, though… As I’m trying to keep this Ohio River navigation in an upriver order I’ll start from Point Pleasant and work my way upriver. As it happened that was appropriate. You see, there were quite some doings in Point Pleasant today and my first clue was the sound of music that I was hearing over the water on my way down. This music didn’t sound as if it was coming from a radio or something like that. It was clearly live.
My second clue was a sweet looking little paddleboat I saw soon after. It passed me and then headed over to the Point Pleasant shoreline...
Well, when I eventually got down to the city I found there to be plenty of chairs and a stage set up on the riverfront. What was this? It was the Point Pleasant Sternwheel Regatta! This was apparently the 22nd year they’ve had it. Check it out: http://www.pointpleasantregatta.org.
Anyway, I floated around and tried to take all this in, in the process adding to the pictures I took of the community in the last downriver section. Included in these is one of the murals painted on a portion of the break wall (a distinguishing characteristic of Point Pleasant). I’m hopeful that this particular shot will give some idea of how impressive these works of art are even though I do believe that they’ve got to been seen at a closer range to be fully appreciated.
Something else of
interest in Point Pleasant is one great river museum (http://www.pprivermuseum.com/)
Something else of interest in Point Pleasant is one great river museum (http://www.pprivermuseum.com/) and also below are some more websites, if interested, one on the city itself and two relating to the murals:
[Update: I’ve just returned from visiting the museum and what a pleasant experience it was! First of all, the ladies who run it are very gracious and helpful. I was encouraged to take my time in order to explore everything they have to offer. …and what do they have to offer, you ask? Well, just about everything a “riverlorian” could ask for! First of all, they have a great many displays on the history of the river and among these was one I found particularly intriguing– a section on the old show boats (including the Majestic). They also have a separate display regarding the Silver Bridge collapse (which, by the way, these ladies helped write the book on: "The Silver Bridge Disaster of 1967". Copies may be ordered directly from the museum.)! I also encountered a remarkable number of model boats on display which included just about every kind of vessel you’ll find on the river.
Not enough? Ok... Do you want to see what kinds of fish are swimming in the water? They’ve got a large aquarium in a separate room which is big enough for you to see some up really close and most of them are quite sizable! In fact, I was so mesmerized just looking at them that I must have stayed in this room for a good 15 minutes alone. Do you want to do some research on the river and its’ history? Well, they’ve got a really impressive library room which covers just about every topic you’ll find relating to the river - be it river vessels, commerce or history – and they’ve also got a little book store and gift shop. Last but certainly not least is their boat simulation room - and I was truly mesmerized by this. You can actually get a feel for what it’s like to pilot various vessels on the water! Me, I spent all my time as a “towboat captain”just because these are the vessels that I see most in my travels, but you can opt for different choices. Anyway, what all this amounts to is one truly fantastic museum and I highly recommend it to anyone!]
Now if you start from this point on the river you’re apt to find it quite busy. You see, the Kanawha River comes in here right beside Point Pleasant too. The Kanawha is about 100 miles long and it’s obviously a main channel for commerce as I saw quite a few barges lining its banks. In fact, in this way it reminded me a little bit of the Green River down near Evansville, Indiana although the Green was so clogged with barges that I can honestly say I had no desire to even paddle in – and that’s something I’ve never been able to say before. The mouth of the Kanawha was a little better but I’d still be very watchful as a paddler if I were to attempt it.
At any rate, I encountered numerous barge-toting pushboats today – more than I think I’ve ever seen on any particular day - and while I usually try to get pictures of all the boats I encounter, there were simply too many of them today to get pictures of them all and still capture the myriad other sights that presented themselves in this section.
This should in no way, however, take away from the two vessels that now passed me in quick succession at mile 265 – both were impressive. The first was AEP’s James Morehead followed by O-Kan Marine Repairs’ Little Marlene. The headquarters for the latter is located just downstream of mile 266 and you’ll have just passed it if you’re coming from downriver. Meanwhile AEP, or American Electric Power (http://www.aepriverops.com), is a company that seems to have a very large “footprint” on the Ohio.
Opposite Point Pleasant (which will extend from here up to the Old Town Creek at mile 263) is the community of Kanauga, Ohio. Kanauga is the site of the four ramps that I mentioned in the last journal (Gallipolis to Point Pleasant), one of which is public but I’m not sure which.
From here you’ll float under the Kanawha & Michigan Railroad Bridge and then a couple businesses will be visible – the Sand Hill Coal Company and Shelly Materials. I can’t find any info on Sand Hill but Shelly (http://www.shellyco.com) looks like they’ve really got the state of Ohio covered. This is apparently one of their asphalt plants. “From Rocks to Roads” looks to be their slogan, but it appears as if they keep the bulk of their barge supply on the opposite side of the river here for when I passed this point on the West Virginia side coming down I went by a mass of them. Marathon Oils’ Catlettsburg pushboat passed me by at about this same point. The vessel is - I assume - based in that city of Catlettsburg, Kentucky down near Huntington, West Virginia.
George’s Creek now comes up on the Ohio side very near mile 264. I got into it only a bit over 100 yards before being blocked by a deadfall, but what I found even more intriguing was a business that had been visible up ahead in West Virginia. It looked like a classic yet, sadly, it apparently was for when I got up to it I was disappointed to see that it looked to be out of business. This was Point Pleasant Marine and from its appearance it must once have been a very prominent and classy outfit.
Just past this at mile 263 is the mouth of another stream - the aforementioned Old Towne Creek. This one marks the northernmost river boundary of Point Pleasant. At the same time (and almost directly across the river) you’ll find a business that the charts refer to as J. Hall Trust. You’ll also see this name a little further upriver at mile 256. I couldn’t then, nor can I now find any information about this business but today the William E Porter of AmherstMadison (spelled as one word): http://www.amherstmadison.com/index.ie.html was docked here along with another smaller pushboat I didn’t catch the name of. I believe this is the first time that I’ve encountered AmherstMadison on the river. As per their website they’re headquartered in Charleston, West Virginia and they offer many services to include marine towing, construction and repair.
As for the Old Towne Creek I paddled in about ½ mile, encountering an interesting bridge just past the mouth but when I eventually reached the point of a second, lower lying bridge I stopped out of respect. I was essentially on the grounds of what looked like someone’s farm. You’ll have to use your own judgement on this but I will – as a general rule – paddle on until I either feel I’m vulnerable or until I get the impression that it could be construed by others that I’m minding their business! I’m not, of course, and I don’t want to give that impression. I only wish to experience the wonder and peace of the outdoors.
…and speaking of wonder, below is an example. When I first encountered these in my travels I thought they might be wasps - they spooked me. I now know them to be little dragonflies. These brown ones seem to be quicker and more elusive than the others. They may be young ones, but here’s a nice dragonfly identification website I just found online (http://www.willowbrookwildlife.com/Dragonflymain.asp). According to this site the photo below may be of an Eastern Amberwing.
I’ve encountered these birds before and this one I spotted upon my emergence back on the Ohio River between Old Towne Creek and the next incoming stream at about mile 262.5 - Campaign creek. These little creatures are pretty amazing. I’ve seen them dive underwater and stay there for a good long while. I believe them to either be mergansers or grebes but I’m not sure. Here’s a nice online bird identification guide: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/search.
For its part, Campaign Creek was navigable to me for a good ½ mile. I thought this stream was a real beauty with a canopy of green covering much of its length. You’ll first go under a pair of bridges, one of them for Ohio Route 7 (which follows quite close to the Ohio River in this section), and then you’ll pass a couple dwellings before things get a little more secluded. I found the second sight below to be intriguing too. I love the way plants adapt to their surroundings and this one seems to have given a new meaning to the term “drifter”!
Upon your emergence from the stream you might notice some interesting stonework along the Ohio bank. There’s a good deal of it and I’m not sure if it’s just for the dwellings which lie here or if it might be a remnant of something more substantial. At the same time, if you look up ahead you’ll notice that the river is making a right curve here with a nice looking cleared out area visible atop a hill. This must be Campaign Bend as there’s also a daymark here that’s been given that name. It made me wonder what the significance of the name might be? Campaign Creek and now Campaign Bend… Civil War relation, maybe?
Anyway, once you reach mile 261 things will get even more interesting. In Ohio you have the Kyger Creek entering the river. This is the one for which the power plant is named. It will be visible quite shortly. Meanwhile, in West Virginia you’ll see an incredibly intriguing abandoned house which has some very nice stone steps leading up to it. In fact, it appears that there might have been two such dwellings at one time because there are two set of steps here. Why was the place was abandoned? It still looks awesome! In fact, might there have been an old dam here? I know that the old lock houses – at least on the Kentucky River – came in identical pairs…
Kyger Creek was another beauty too. Look at this! Like the others, I got back almost ½ mile...
Next you’ll begin to the feel the power of industry. In fact, it looks as if all the structures you see in Ohio could be part of the same facility and I thought this. They’re not. There are actually two of them here. The first, at about mile 259.5, is the Kyger Creek Power Plant. This one belongs to the Ohio Valley Electric Corp. (http://www.ovec.com/index.htm) but I can’t find too much info on it beyond a picture they have on the website.
The second facility with the nuclear reactors is American Electric Powers’ (a.k.a. AEP) Gavin Power Plant. This one is immediately downriver from the Cheshire ramp that I used today (at mile 258). The river operations site for AEP is mentioned above but I can’t find much information on this plant either. According to a Wiki entry it’s the older of the 2, having been built in 1974-75. Kyger was apparently built in the 1950’s.
Each of these facilities seemed to have a pushboat dedicated to it as well. Kyger had the Fred Shedd and Gavin seemed to have McGinnis, Inc.’s (http://www.mcginnisinc.com) Ed McLaughlin today. I’ve written about McGinnis before as I’ve encountered their vessels at other times. As per their website they’ve been providing transportation, equipment and repair services to the river industry for a decade.
Passing Kyger my attention was drawn to 3 grain elevators that were being operated here. They appeared to be unloading coal from the barges but they were doing it in completely different ways. The one furthest upriver seemed to be operating with impressive efficiency. Not a speck of coal seemed to be dropped. The second seemed to be going much too quickly. It was dropping quite a bit. The third? No pattern was evident. A study in contrasts…
There was lots of interesting equipment to see as I paddled along too. I found myself most drawn to this particular machine…
…and the most scenic of the pictures in my opinion were those that I took from incoming streams on the West Virginia side. The first one below is mostly of Kyger from the mouth of an unnamed stream while the second is of the Gavin Plant from the downriver mouth of Eight Mile Island…
Meanwhile - what’s happening in West Virginia with all this going on in Ohio? Well, not quite as much but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Look at the pleasant beach-like areas with their rocky shorelines. These were taken at about the spot of the Hogg’s Landing daymark…
Two more pushboats passed me here as well – the Bill Stile of Campbell Transportation and the Dirk Taylor of what looks to be SMI. I encountered Campbell in the last downriver section (http://www.barges.us/blog/overview.html) but SMI was new to me. Unfortunately, I can’t find any information on this business to match with the logo I see in the picture I took. If anyone could enlighten me I’d appreciate it.
Last but not least was Eight Mile Island and going around the back of it took me about 1/3 mile. Of interest was a very old barge that looked as if it could have been left here to rust about 50 years ago – but sideways across the channel! Something else was an old bridge that looked to have once led over to the island, yet the island is really small. It doesn’t appear to have been worth this effort – unless the structure was built so that builders of the electricity tower that lies here on the island could access their work more easily.
This is another super-easy one since Cheshire is such a small town. Cheshire is where the Kyger Power Plant is located. All you have to do is follow Ohio Route 7 down from Marietta, up from Huntington or just get to the route and follow along it until you get to Cheshire. The ramp is in the town park at the end of East Poplar Street on the northernmost side of town. County Road 39 will also take you directly to this ramp.