PLACES TO GO ON LAND HOME PLACES TO GO ON WATER
Guyandotte River (Mile 305.5) to Athalia, OH (Mile 296.5)
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
(Navigation Charts 148 – 150)
There are ramps at the beginning and end of this stretch including one at the very mouth of the Guyandotte River, yet I just had to check out the one I saw listed as the “Old Lock 27 Launching Ramp” on the charts. This one is just about right in the middle of this section at mile 301 and it lies just behind the Fairland Board of Education in Proctorville, Ohio (complete directions below). I drove in and was pretty impressed with the grounds which include both old lock houses…
Be prepared, however, that if you want to put in at this spot the parking is a little – shall we say – undefined. It appears that most of the bottom area where you’ll want to park is usually covered by water. In fact, I was walking over seaweed as I parked well away from the ramp in order to be out of the way of the other boaters but if you don’t mind doing this there’s plenty of parking to be had - at low water levels. I put in amid the company of a family of ducks…
Anyway, the Guyandotte River which enters the Ohio between mile 306 and 305 on the outskirts of Huntington, West Virginia is supposedly 166 miles long so I’m deciding to bypass it on this exploration in favor of doing a separate series of journals on it later, but if you look inside the mouth you might not suspect that it was that lengthy. It really doesn’t look very wide at all.
Also at this point is where the East Huntington (or Frank “Gunner” Gatsby – first Marshall University player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame) Bridge crosses over to connect Huntington (or technically, Guyandotte, West Virginia) with the community of Proctorville, Ohio. Proctorville is on your left and it’ll begin with a long line of recreational vehicles, while further ahead you’ll be able to spot the town water tower, yet with no public access visible I saw no way of reaching the community. One classic old brick house still caught my eye though. I don’t usually put up pictures of other people’s houses so I hope this is OK. This one looks like a real classic!
Meanwhile on the right side in West Virginia you’ll find the Adam’s Landing Yacht Club / Schooners Waterfront Grill (http://www.schoonerswv.com/index.html) just upstream of the Guyandotte River. You can download a menu for the restaurant online as their website is pretty comprehensive, but a little further down you’ll reach a ramp at what looks like the remnants of an old pier. This is unfortunately all that’s left of an older marina and restaurant that apparently sank in 2009 – the Showboat Marina and Cajun Kitchen Restaurant. There’s an article about it here: http://www.wsaz.com/home/headlines/40078002.html.
Next at mile 304 you’ll spot some power lines going over the water and there are businesses on either side at this point – Huntington Asphalt Corporation in West Virginia (http://www.bizapedia.com/wv/HUNTINGTON-ASPHALT-CORPORATION.html) and Shelly Materials in Ohio (http://www.shellyco.com). I couldn’t find much info on the former company but I’ve encountered Shelly before. They’ve got a fairly large footprint in Ohio being headquartered up near Columbus and as per their website they’re pretty environmentally conscious as well. Their business has a slogan of “From Rocks to Roads” as they appear to be in the road construction business.
Paddy’s Creek now enters on the Ohio side right after Shelly but I couldn’t get in an appreciable distance even though I did think the houses across the river looked pretty picturesque. I don’t see a separate community on the map over there but they almost seem to be going for one on Siders Avenue in West Virginia!
Speaking of civilization, West Virginia Route 2 runs almost directly beside the river for this entire stretch and this particular cluster of homes will be the first of a couple of them between this point and the Dogham Bend Light and Day Marker which comes up at mile 302 on the West Virginia side. You’ll have noticed, by the way, that the river is making a long left curve in this area so I assume from the name of the day mark that this is Dogham Bend.
Meanwhile, if you paddle along the Ohio side here you’re apt to find a lot more wildlife along the beach-like shores where patches of seaweed lie at disparate spots. This seaweed, I’ve found, will get denser and denser the further upriver you go toward the Robert Byrd Lock and Dam at mile 257.5 and it serves as a great habitat for minnows. As such, you’re likely to see many schools of them along with many other fish and different kinds of birds out looking for them. I saw a few heron, many kingfishers, some bitterns (at least I think they were bitterns) and what looked like either egrets or white heron at different spots today. There’s a great bird guide here, by the way: http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/Portals/9/pdf/pub418.pdf.
Please pardon the bottle and the tire in this last picture! It’s unfortunate, but in general I’ve found – and pretty consistently – that the trash really isn’t that bad on the Ohio! It really isn’t! Quite frankly, you’d expect a lot more of it.
Something else of note in Ohio (besides some generally spectacular homes) is one particular dwelling that has the most interesting of river overlooks! A metal walkway leads to it straight out from atop the bank, while at the shoreline it rises some 2 -3 stories above the water on stilts! I’ve got to include a picture of this, too. I hope the people won’t mind (and I’ll take it down if anyone objects)!
It was at this point that the Mary Ellen Jones towboat of Amherst Madison passed me. You’ll see Amherst Madison vessels (http://www.amherstmadison.com/index.ie.html) all over this vicinity of the Ohio River as they’ve got a fleet less than 40 miles upstream just inside the mouth of the Kanawha River up in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. In fact, this was the first of two of their vessels I’d see today.
Next up – the Old Lock and Dam 27 on your left at mile 301 – and I’ve already mentioned how beautiful this location is…
…but directly across on the West Virginia side it’s also quite nice. In fact, it appears that there’s a YMCA up there as well as a country club, and although I can’t find any info on either of these I did come to find out later that there’s quite a lot more going on on this side of the river than one would think! I can’t spot it on maps, nor is it on the river charts but this is the community of Cox Landing, West Virginia and besides the 2 clubs mentioned there’s a lot more.
For example, there’s an airfield (the Robert Newton Field) between mile 301 and 300 that apparently offers skydiving! Check it out: http://skydivewv.com/?page_id=25!). There’s also a business (which the charts have as being Arrow Concrete) and stream (unnamed) at mile 300. Later there’s even a golf course from mile 300 to mile 299 which looks to be part of the Riviera Country Club.
Meanwhile, on the Ohio side, you’ll find a nice line of homes following the old lock and dam for about a mile and then a mountain will creep in toward the water leaving room for little else besides Ohio Route 7 which runs directly beside the river almost all the way up to Athalia. This is an area where the shorelines are especially inviting – especially in West Virginia and at one point I did stop to take things in…
At another point I noticed a tiny trickling stream that I thought was quite picturesque, yet I found that in taking a picture I’d scared away an egret…
Meanwhile, by mile 300 you’ll have reached an Arrow Concrete facility. I’d just passed another of their locations down around mile 307 across from downtown Huntington, but there was an unnamed stream right after this that I was able to get a little way into, maybe 100 – 200 yards…
At mile 298.5 you’ll find another docking facility in West Virginia, this one for Adams Trucking and Supply and it was near this point that a couple (or actually 3) towboats crossed each other in front of me. This was interesting. Look at the boat approaching from the left. It looks like there are 2 vessels pushing that load of barges. One is an Amherst Madison vessel while the other appears to be one from Superior Marine (http://superiormarineinc.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11&Itemid=49). Both of these companies have hubs in this section of the river with Superior being down near Huntington and Amherst Madison being upriver just inside the mouth of the Kanawha River in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The vessel coming downstream is the Speedway of Marathon Oil.
Pass under a set of power lines now and you’ll be one mile from the ramp in Athalia. This one looks pretty solid but I’m not sure how much parking they have up there. The Two Mile Creek also enters the river right next to this ramp and I was able to get in just a little way, about 100 yards. Athalia is classified as being a village, but I don’t see that they have a web presence to share with you.
One last picture... I seem to attract these little guys with my blue boat…
I’m going to direct you the easiest way, not necessarily the fastest. It’s not too much further and it eliminates a lot of confusion. The Old Lock 27 Launching Ramp can be reached off of Ohio Route 7 just north of the East Huntington or Frank “Gunner” Gatsby Bridge spanning the river East of Huntington, West Virginia. If you’re coming from Huntington go 3 miles after crossing it and make a right at the 4th light - Township Road (or TWP) 1242. There will be a little green sign. Go a short distance to a dead end and then take a left. This is County Road 411 or Beulah Road. You’ll take it all the way to the water – about a mile.
If you’re coming from Gallipolis the light for TWP 1242 will be the first one after you go through the community of Athalia. Then follow the directions above.