PLACES TO GO ON LAND                        HOME                        PLACES TO GO ON WATER


Ohio River


Symmes Creek Across from Huntington, WV (Mile 308.5) to Guyandotte River (Mile 305.5)


Tuesday, August 28, 2012


(Navigation Charts 147-148)



***I haven’t done this in a while but - TANGENT WARNING - feel free to ignore the next 4 paragraphs***



I consider myself a simple man but one asset I do have is a big heart.   I have a great respect for everything I’m entrusted with and everyone that comes into my life and I’m compelled to give them all that I have, treating them in the spirit of wanting to do what is right for them, what is fair. 


I also believe that material things should be treated with respect if one believes that the spirit of another person or persons is reflected in them.  This could be the spirit of the person who collected them, the spirit of the person who might have given them for some memorable occasion, the spirit of the person who worked with them, whatever.  I try to get such things into the hands of others of the same spirit who will treat them in the same way (assuming I cannot) while doing the right thing by others in the process.  I think we should be good stewards of both the things that are entrusted to us as well as the people that the Lord puts in our lives and hopefully we’ll be able to earn a living in the process.  


I will not, however, sacrifice doing what is right just to make money and – if I can detect it quickly enough - I will not allow myself or my good intentions to be used or abused in the process.  What’s more, I will not accept money if I feel that it comes from a questionable transaction, from a person of questionable character or even from a good person who has made a decision that I question the integrity of.  This life should be lived to the fullest but with one’s heart set on the next one.


It’s certainly easier to do the wrong thing and it would be much easier simply not to care, yet my heart compels me to do what is right even if that leads me to humiliation as it did recently.  Thank goodness we have the rivers to confort us!   For me, I think they’re only thing that keeps me sane!



***That’s all***



It’s hard to believe that this section of the Ohio River is only a 3 mile stretch, but there’s a lot going on here what with downtown Huntington, West Virginia being front and center.  In fact, there are no less than 4 boat ramps in this section – one in downtown Huntington, one directly across from the city inside the mouth of Symmes Creek, one at the mouth of the Indian Guyan Creek at mile 306.5 and one just inside the mouth of the Guyandotte River.


Me, I checked out the Indian Guyan ramp first before opting instead for Symmes Creek (more because it was located closest to a bank I needed to use than anything else).  It’s nice.  They don’t have any facilities but there is enough parking. 



Getting on the water and paddled back into Symmes to begin.  As a general rule, I like to leave the fishermen in peace and since I know there are apt to be more of them later in the day I try to paddle the side streams early if I can.  Symmes, I was to find, actually went back nearly a mile and a half – exactly what the charts say.  It lies amid the community of Chesepeake, Ohio and I thought it was quite attractive. 



As a bonus I even noticed what looked like a farm up on the bank when I got back in a little way. Then, when I was coming back out, I spotted some horses up there so I decided to look the place up to see what it might be...  Well, as it turns out it’s a horse medical clinic (!


Also of note was that there was one point where I thought for sure I’d have to turn back as the stream gets shallow fairly quickly and the spot was gummed up with deadfall debris, yet after testing things out I found I was just able to make it through with my boat practically scraping the bottom. 


The spot where the stream does become unnavigable, by the way, is one that I found to be quite pleasant and I even I startled a deer foraging here among the flora atop a little “step” in the bank.  This stream would be a nice one for a hiking trail as there’s a tiered level up there almost the entire way. 



Then, on the way back out to the Ohio I came across some lily pads.  No sign of Kermit though…



As mentioned, the mouth of the Symmes Creek lies almost directly across from downtown Huntington at mile 308.5 and you’ll be able to get some pretty nice pictures of the city from here if the sun cooperates.  For me, I thought my best pictures were taken on the way back, but you’ll find that Huntington has a nice city park along its waterfront (the David Harris Riverfront Park -  It contains the ramp, a little amphitheater (which might actually be part of the Big Sandy Arena entertainment complex which lies just behind it - and a marina.


First, “tropical Huntington” from across the water…



Then a more unobstructed view looking at it from the southeast (in the sun)…



From the Southwest (on the way back when the sun wasn’t cooperating)…




…and finally looking upstream form the city toward the Guyandotte River which lies up by the white bridge you see.  That’s where I ended up today.



The marina is known as Holderby’s Landing/Huntington Riverfront Marina ( and I love their mission statement but it looks from their website like they had big plans to make this a complete entertainment location as well as a marina.  As I paddled by, however, I wasn’t exactly sure how much of the operation was actually that – still in operation!  There might be a lot more going on here on the weekends, though...



Incidentally, Huntington was originally a settlement known as Holderby’s Landing before it was re-named for a rail tycoon by the name of Collis Potter Huntington.  It seems that the western end of his railroad was here and this fact really helped to establish the town (see and/or 


At any rate, if you were to get out of your boat at the ramp and walk up to the city you’d find nice shopping plaza ( and hotel (, both named Pullman. I assume these were named for the Pullman railroad cars (and they do have an old one up there) but in looking it up I can’t find any connection other than the fact that the railroad terminus mentioned above was here. 


Back on the river you’ll pass the marina (where you’ll be greeted with the scene below if you look back toward the city) and then you’ll have some steel yards on this West Virginia side for about the next mile.  This is the location of Steel of West Virginia, Inc. ( and as per their website they started in 1909 with fewer than 30 employees.  Today they have over 500 and they’re currently owned by Steel Dynamics, a publically traded company (STLD).



Directly across the river in Ohio you’ll find some grain elevators at the site of a cement company called Pickett Concrete.  This business lies in the heart of the community of Chesepeake, Ohio although I couldn’t find much information on it or the community at all.  Whether or not the barges I saw a bit further downstream are associated with this company, I don’t know.


Back in West Virginia – and just prior to some power lines going over the water – there were a bunch of ancient barges that had been left to rust to form some interesting “flower pots”. 



I also noticed in here that the beaches were composed of some very interesting rock formations. In fact, they looked in some spots as if they might have been made of a combination of poured and discarded concrete. Either way, it all makes for an interesting and convenient spot to take out and rest – not what you might expect in the midst of a large city.  The river always seems to maintain its character even if there’s a ton of industry around it.



Up ahead you’re liable to see a couple more things between mile 307 and 306.  The first is a Huntington Municipal Water Intake with its associated structures up on the bank.  The second is a line of barges and mooring cells that you’ll encounter as you start to make a curve right in the river.  These belong to the Ohio River Terminals Company LLC according to the charts and this is another business that I can’t find much information on, but across the river from here is where the Indian Guyan Creek enters in Ohio at mile 306 (just after you’ll see an old barge that you can actually paddle into!).



By this point, however you’ll have been able to get some great sweeping views of the river with the third Huntington bridge – the beautiful East Huntington Bridge in the background.  This span is also known as the Gunner Gatsby Memorial Bridge – Gatsby was Marshall University’s first Hall of Fame football player.  The Guyandotte River merges with the Ohio up there just before the bridge at mile 305.5.



First the Indian Guyan.  It was navigable to me for another ¾ mile with a boat ramp being almost right at the mouth – and from the mouth it takes the shape of a face looking left.  I got around the “mouth” of the face and almost to the tip of the nose until I reached a point where I was awfully close to being in some peoples’ front or back yards!  I went back.



Next on the main river you’ll continue to enjoy more great views as you paddle the short distance to the Guyandotte River.  On your left side you’ll find what looks like a Superior Marine location where they’ve got some interesting apparatus which might be used to take barges and boats in and out of the water.   You’ll then reach the Guyandotte River just before the bridge.  On you right in Huntington you might be able to see the Cornerstone Hospital up in the midst of what look like some very nice homes.



Meanwhile the Guyandotte is a river which is said to run about 166 miles, a fact which might be called into question if one were to look at the width of the mouth.  It certainly doesn’t seem like that would be the case.  Nevertheless, I didn’t decide to start taking this one on today.  It goes all the way to Amigo, West Virginia near Beckley so I’ll save it for a separate exploration.



Anyway, it was time to head back and this time I did so along the Ohio shoreline.  The beach takes on a rocky character here and you’ll encounter a good amount of little minnows among the varied forms of algae which descend pretty deep in spots.  You’re also likely to spot many different kinds of birds prowling for fish and today these included a trio of what I believe to be sandpipers.  I thought 3 was a crowd!  These birdies looked to be pretty chummy!



…and later I was able to get what was possibly my best wildlife picture yet as the bird below posed for me for a while.  He certainly doesn’t look very happy to be doing it though, does he?!?  That is one very serious looking bird!







The Symmes Ramp can be accessed off Ohio Route 7 across from downtown Huntington in Chesepeake, Ohio.  You’ll see a sign for the ramp on the road.  It’s behind a Hillbilly Hotdogs ( where you’ll head north on Symmes Creek Road.  After you make the turn off Route 7 you’ll want to veer to the left and then you’ll see the ramp parking lot not even a mile back.