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 Ohio River  

Outskirts of Manchester, Ohio (398.5) Nearly to Brush Creek Island (Mile 389)


Monday, October 11, 2010




Y’know – I’m finding out that this Ohio River is really challenging to document!  My other photo-journals take me 2 – 3 days to compose.  These take a good week!  First you’ve got to compose them based on your memories and your pictures then, given that the shorelines are so far apart, you’ve got to cross-reference these with the navigation charts and with satellite maps to make sure that what you’re describing is accurate. 


Afterwards, you’ve got more decisions to make.  Did you pass anything that you’d like to include a weblink for?  Which pictures do you put up and how many?  What were your feelings as you passed by certain things?  Finally, you’ve got to proofread and edit which requires reading and rereading each sentence, each paragraph, and each entry to make sure the flow is OK.  Guess it’s gotta be a labor of love!


Today I messed up.  I bit off a little more than I could chew again and arrived back at the ramp well after dark, unable to properly document part of the Ohio shoreline in Manchester because I couldn’t see it!  Manchester is a really cool little town too!  There are many things to do and places to see in the area.  I’ll have to come back again to do it proper justice. 


My drive out to the put-in was a prime example - I discovered a place that I wasn’t fully able to see from down on the water in the last section – Moyer’s Winery and Restaurant.  They don’t seem to have their own website, or I’d definitely put a link up, but I’d say that Moyer’s is at about mile 400 on the river.  It looked fantastic from the road (US52) as I drove by today! 


Incidentally, the Adams Country website has the entire Manchester area covered quite well.  In fact, I don’t think there was anything I passed by today that they didn’t describe in more detail at - including the put-in itself.


…and speaking of which, that put-in was Kinfolk Landing in the heart of Manchester at the end of Pearl Street (full directions below).  There’s a nice ramp here with some bathroom facilities and I got on the water about 11AM, paddling back down to the green day marker that was the endpoint of my last trip at mile 399.  Then, turning to head back upriver, I technically began my day. 


The Ohio River is generally making a right curve in this section, and as far as scenery, there’s some sweet looking farmland in Kentucky while US8 and a CSX railroad track run on the inside of the curve.  Then in Ohio, US52 follows along the outside as you come into downtown Manchester and McClelland Run enters at mile 398.5, closely followed by Isaacs Creek.  I didn’t paddle into the first because it looked to be directly in someone’s back yard, but I did get about 400 yards into the latter before I saw some fishermen at the back.  It looks like you could get in about 1/3 mile, at least. 


Meanwhile, the Kentucky shorelines continued to impress me with their nice, sandy beaches, and I tried to get pictures of them and the great fall colors in their midst, but I found that my camera just wasn’t cutting it in the sunny haze of the day – the shots simply weren’t vibrant enough.  I tried adjusting the exposure compensation but it seemed to be faulty, so I switched back to my old camera.  Below is the best I got…



Anyway, you’re soon fully in Manchester, and there’s an interesting spot for a place they call the River Barn which you can rent for a weekend if you like (more info on that, too, at the Adams Country website).  Then, a bit further down but before the ramp, I saw a banner in front of a nice old house.  Unable to read it from the water, I looked up the spot later and found it to be a bed and breakfast called Riverhaven (



This inn made me think…  I’d so far made 6 trips on the Ohio, but this was the first time I’d noticed any riverside options for overnight stays other than camping.  I found this interesting.  What if you wanted to paddle the Ohio, but you wanted to sleep in hotels or inns?  Camping is fun, but some people just aren’t into it and they might be willing and able to pay a bit more for a nice, warm bed.  While Riverhaven didn’t seem to have its’ own direct access to the river (it’s atop a tall bank), the Manchester ramp is just down the street.  Things would be fairly easy.  I’ll keep an eye out for more places like this. 


Now, by this time you’ll have been able to spot a couple islands in the distance, and as I was looking at the ramp from across the river at about mile 397 I could see the towboat Oliver C. Shearer of the Campbell Transportation Company ( coming around the side of one.  According to their website Campbell operates 37 of these vessels and they’ve been in business for 80 years.  Each year they transport some 20 million tons of various commodities!  That’ll put into perspective how much commerce is done on our inland waterways! 


On to the islands…  They’re simply referred to as Manchester Island #1 and Manchester Island #2.  The second is the larger, and it’s on the left side of the river.  It’s about a mile long.  The first island is much smaller - maybe 1/3 the size.  I decided to paddle alongside the Kentucky side of each.  Low lying and pleasantly forested, these islands were pretty sweet and they provided some nice opportunities for solitude, but the best was yet to come.



As I continued to paddle I saw what looked like a kiosk up onshore along with some plants I’d never seen the likes of before, and although the lot sign I’d just seen had me thinking that they might not encourage exploring, this kiosk dispelled that notion.  I just had to get out and look around, and as I did I also noticed some little leaflets available in a box on the kiosk.  Opening it up to take one out, I found that these were also contained within a little Ziploc bag!  Could these possibly be meant for me to take?  I felt a tinge of guilt as I opened the bag to take one out – I wasn’t sure I was worthy of such consideration!



All of this taken together had to be one of the most endearing things I’ve ever experienced in my travels outside of the sight of Tillie’s collar on my Berea College Forest hike in Kentucky (written up in another entry).  Not only had they left these flyers on an island where very few people would get a chance to see them - let alone expect to see them - but they’d also taken enough care to package them like this so they wouldn’t get wet!  I thought that was exceptionally cool considering that they would have also had to get them here by boat!



Y’know what these islands are part of?  They’re part of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge ( and these are just a couple of the 22 in their purview.  They don’t allow camping here, but you can get out and explore if you like.  There are more great beaches too…



The Island Creek Marina is located on the Ohio side in the midst of these islands near mile 395.5, and they have a little convenience store in case you might need to pick up some supplies.  Tent camping also appears to be an option.  While I didn’t get to paddle into their namesake creek because it was too late to do so on the way back, their little dock sure offered some protection for me (more on that in a bit)!  This is also the location of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Manchester Boat Launch Ramp.



From these islands the Ohio River will continue the slow, right curve it’s been making, and from about mile 395 to the next island (Brush) down at mile 389.5 the Kentucky side is almost completely farmland, only to be interrupted as KY Route 8 runs through the community of Concord, Kentucky.  Concord is a stealth community vis-à-vis the river, though.  I saw little sign of it from down on the water. 


As far as incoming streams, the navigation charts indicated that there were 4 in here, yet none were navigable for me today:  Toles Creek, Pences Creek, Montieth’s Run and Sycamore Creek (which entered under a little culvert across from the Killen Power Plant I’ll soon describe). 


The most interesting shots I got on this side of the river were ones of trees with personality.  One was surely a “huddle” of trees in conference to decide what to do.  Another looked to me like the Davy Jones character in Pirates of the Caribbean with snakes for a beard!




As for the Ohio side, there were more signs of life.  Just after passing the islands you’ll see a long line of RV’s at Twin Islands Park at about mile 394.5 and afterward both the road (US52) that’s been following the river and its forested, hilly backdrop will fade a bit from the shoreline - first to let in some farmland and then to usher in the community of Wrightsville, Ohio at mile 392.


The Donaldson Creek enters in between, and I’ll be honest – I’m embarrassed to admit that I forgot how far I was able to get back into this one, but it had to have been about 1/3 mile.  As it “S’d” in it reminded me of another sweet little winding creek on the Kentucky River - Dry Branch at mile 161.5 - except that that creek had a little slice of Americana with a little red outhouse on the first curve! 


The W. Stanley James push boat passed me near this creek.  I can’t seem to find out who owns this vessel, but it sure looked great amidst the autumn backdrop!  There’s a lot more info about these boats at, by the way.  This is a great site that has some fantastic pictures of these boats.  In fact, if you see one and you can get a name on it, this site is almost sure to have pictures of it up along with more info about it.  I’ve found the site to be extremely helpful.



As for Wrightsville, there is a paved ramp here but I’m not sure if it’s public.  I also spotted another banner amongst the little line of houses.  Turns out, this is McClanahan’s Ohio River Getaway and it looks like a great place to spend a vacation on the river (  Their website also includes a good deal of information about the area and its attractions.  MCS’ Tennessee push boat passed me here too, but this was another one I can’t seem to find any ownership information on.  Once again, however, the Towboat Gallery website was a great help.



From here the Ohio side is a nice combination of farmland and forested hills which provide a pleasant backdrop for the power plant (Dayton Power and Lights’ Killen Station - which comes up next.  This plant seems to encompass nearly two miles of shoreline from about mile 391 to 389.



Interestingly, I’d just passed another of Dayton Powers’ plants (Spurlock) back between miles 404 and 405, and like that one this had quite a bit going on.  It was hard to distinguish one part of the operation from another.  Likewise, there seemed to be a dedicated towboat here, the Jerry Rose.  (The Upper and Little Sister Creeks enter the river just prior to Killen at mile 391, by the way, but I couldn’t decipher them let alone paddle in.  


Yet another push boat passed by me now, the Bruce Darst of AEP (American Electric Power -  This was the busiest day yet in terms of these vessels.  I encountered 5 in the 8 or so hours I was out.



After I passed the power plant it was decision time:  Could I make it down to Brush Creek Island before I had to head back?  I started down but reluctantly decided against it and began my return trip at about mile 389.  This was a tough decision for me to make because the island would have been a perfect spot to end.  I don’t want to end at a mile mark!  I’d much rather end at something much more interesting – like an island!


Anyway, of the most interest on my return trip was the color in the foliage, and not just the trees.  Some of the grasses at the waters’ edge seemed to be changing color as well, and there were no in betweens here – they went directly from green to a deep yellow!  Contrast that with the different yellows, greens, oranges and reds in the trees and you’ve really got a nice collage of color...



Also of interest were all the cute (the best word I can use to describe them) little shad minnows.  The river was positively teeming with them and the shimmering on the water you see in the picture below is not the wind or the waves – it’s them!  You could also hear their splishy-splash symphony across the water.  It really was quite an amazing experience and it gives you an appreciation of how alive this river is!



Anyway, these little guys (and gals) were very pleasant company, and by the time I got to the western tip of Manchester Island #1 I had more company - I could see the Hamilton push boat of the Canal Barge Company ( up ahead.  Canal Barge provides liquid and dry cargo along with deck and other project services.  They also provide third party towing options.



At first I assumed that this vessel would be going either around or between the islands on the Kentucky side, but he surprised me by coming on the Ohio side (this being only my sixth trip, I’m still getting used to the ways of navigation on the river).   The boat was also going faster than I’d become accustomed to, and the waves were really churning up as he passed.  I was thankful that I had the pier of the Island Creek Marina to help block the waves.


At last reaching the ramp I was now in complete darkness.  It was only a little after 7, for crying out loud!  Alas, it’ll soon be time to put my travels on a winter hiatus.


Have to get one more picture in...  This was taken as I looked back out onto the river from Donaldson Creek.





From Lexington I took Paris Pike (US68) and followed it all the way into Maysville.  Maysville is confusing, but I just kept going straight on 68 (I think it becomes Business 68 as you get to town – whatever, keep straight).  What you’ll end up doing is curving right on a steep slope down to the river.  Then, once the road starts to veer left, you’ll make a left at the final stop light, and then you’ll want to stay in the left lane to enter the downtown area.  You’ll then make a right at another stop light ( Ferry Street) and go over the bridge. 


After crossing take a right at the “T” (US52) and go about another 10 miles into downtown Manchester and start to look for Pearl Street on the right.  The progression is 6th Street, Broadway Street, Adams Street and then Pearl.  Make the right and you’ll see the park at the end of the road.