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Ohio River

 

Eagle Creek (Mile 416) to Maysville River Park (Mile 407)

 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

 

 

 

Today marked a first:  Dummy forgot to tie his boat down to the car and when he left and it promptly slid right off! 

 

Boom!  Sccccrrrraaaaaaaape…. 

 

It wasn’t a bad omen though!  Even though nothing really went as planned, everything worked out perfectly and I saw a section of the river that I hadn’t planned on paddling until later – this one! 

 

I originally intended to put in from Morgantown, Ohio, but I ran into some snags along the way.  First I got in the wrong lane in Maysville, Kentucky and went under the Simon Kenton Memorial Bridge (a.k.a. the Maysville-Aberdeen Highway Bridge) instead of going over it.  No matter; since I’d already made the mistake already, I figured I might as well go ahead and check out the spot I’d mapped out in downtown Maysville as a possible put-in.  It was just a block away at the intersection of Limestone and McDonald Parkway – The Limestone Landing and Fishing Pier (a.k.a. Maysville Riverfront Park).

 

 

 

Well, when I arrived I found some pretty amazing murals!  Rosemary Clooney, a native of Maysville, was smiling down at me from one, and on another was a group of Indians out on a buffalo hunt – apparently the river valley here used to be a pretty popular hunting ground.  You can check out the artwork on Maysville’s website at:  http://www.cityofmaysville.com/tourism/floodwall%20murals.html), or better yet, come on out and see it!  There are 10 of these murals in total.

 

The views from this spot with the bridge going over the river were really nice too, and it looks like a perfect fishing spot, but it might not be the best place to put a boat in.  You’d have to park, walk your stuff through a little “tunnel” in the flood wall, and then walk it down.  I didn’t see a ramp.  You might be better off putting in across the river.  Because…

 

As I got on the road again and headed over the bridge to Aberdeen, Ohio, I saw a ramp down and to my left.  Well, of course I had to check it out, and while I found it not to look terribly hospitable, I did notice that it looked to be on the border of a park.  Well, of course I had to check it out too, and in doing so I found a much better (and free) put-in not much further down. 

 

This is the Aberdeen Community Park (full directions below), and there’s a nice paved ramp here although I didn’t see any bathroom facilities (my powers of observation aren’t that great, though.  There may well have been some unbeknownst to me).  Y’know what else is here?  This spot marks the Ohio River terminus of Zane’s Trace which was the first continuous road through Ohio according to a marker I saw.  It once stretched all the way to Wheeling, Virginia (more info at http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=827).

 

Now at this point I must confess to being a little torn as to how to describe things…  I’ve been writing these journals in an upriver fashion because that’s how I generally recommend paddling if you’re out solo – you’ve simply got more control of your situation that way.  Today, however, I put in from an upriver point for the sake of ease, and to compose this I have a decision to make:  Do I make a break from the routine, or do I opt to begin this journal from the point at which the trip ended?  I’ve chosen the latter for the sake of continuity.  I hope it won’t be to confusing.   

 

After paddling downriver to the Eagle Creek I could see the town of Ripley, Ohio a bit further down.  Did I ever want to make it all the way down there today, because I could see what looked like a ramp – a perfect terminus for a trip!  Alas, I was running out of time.  (I did check the location out, though, and the charts seem to indicate that there’s a public ramp accessible from Main Street.  I’ll confirm this on a future trip.)

 

Anyway, Eagle Creek is at a point slightly upriver from mile 416 on the river, but I didn’t paddle in.  It certainly looked large enough to explore (and I may have to come back later and paddle it separately), but it also appeared to have quite a bit of traffic.  In fact, as I glance at the charts again, there appear to be 5 put-ins back there:  2 for the Eagle Creek Boat Club, a public ramp, the Eagle Creek Marina, and the Eagle Creek Boat Dock (http://www.eaglecreek1.com/index2.htm)! 

 

It was from the mouth of this stream that I began paddling back upriver along a fairly messy Ohio shoreline.  Kentucky is fairly consistent in regard to trash in this section (it’s disappointing, but fairly sparse), but in Ohio I found it to be downright “Jeckle and Hyde”.  It started out pretty trashed, got much better once the shoreline houses began to appear, was a mess again, and then it was nice at the end.  The ducks didn’t seem to mind though, and the beaches would be nice if a cleanup could be done.

 

This stretch of the river starts with farmland on the Ohio side while KY8 and a CSX railroad track run right beside the river in Kentucky with forested hills in the background.  You can also see the Spurlock Power Plant of the Eastern Kentucky Power Cooperative (http://www.ekpc.coop/spurlock.html) on this side, and its’ smokestacks are visible for miles. 

 

The Lawrence Creek enters just prior to reaching it at mile 415 and loops around the back.  I got in about ¾ mile before I reached a split where it looked like a shelter had been set up and a dog was barking at me.  Unwilling to disturb the tranquility of others, this was a bit too up-close-and-personal…  I headed back.  This stream seems to mark the western boundary of Maysville.

 

Needless to say, when you get up to the power plant at mile 414 there are likely to be a ton of barges around, and today was no different.  I navigated nearly to the middle of the river to avoid them while being extremely wary of any towboats at the same time - not only the ones on the river itself, but also the ones that you’re likely to see amidst the barges.  I’ve sometimes noticed that there’s one dedicated solely to a large operation like this and that it seems to be “on call” along the shoreline.  In this case it was the “City of Maysville” towboat.

 

 

 

So, before you even begin paddling around such an operation, I’d be certain that these are idle too.  Otherwise, you’ll probably just want to paddle all the way over to the other side of the river and avoid the congestion altogether - probably the best option in any case!  There’s just a lot going on that could be dangerous for a paddler.

 

…and speaking of dangerous… 

 

Just upriver from the power plant at mile 413.5 there’s a spot that almost looks like a ramp and then there’s a water intake structure for the East Kentucky Rural Electric Corp.  Well, when I passed this location earlier I’d spotted a huge plume of churning water emanating from around this structure, maybe a couple dozen yards offshore.  It looked somewhat like the water churning in the immediate wake of a towboat, although it did seem to be a bit larger in scope.  Whatever - it really spooked me, and I paddled all the way to about the middle of the river to avoid it.

 

Well, I sure am glad that I saw that churning water, because if I hadn’t I might have been in trouble.  I couldn’t make out the sign on this intake until I got back home and enlarged the picture, but it read:

 

WARNING

DO NOT ANCHOR OR

OPERATE WITHIN

75 YARDS

OF THIS STRUCTURE

FILTER BACKWASH MAY

CAPSIZE SMALL CRAFT

 

…..!!! (My reaction, not part of the sign!).  

 

Needless to say, I was very lucky today but I’ll certainly be much more watchful for any signs of structures like this in the future – on the charts or out on the river (in case they’re not on the charts)!  I've posted the picture below so that any readers will know how to spot such this structure.

 

 

This occurrence led to a bit of introspection for me.  How is it that fate can seem to smile upon a person while they’re engaged in certain activities while generally doing the opposite otherwise?  Why the dichotomy? 

 

Well, I guess each person will have to answer that question for themselves, but as for me, I can only come up with one answer:  this must be what I’m supposed to do (yes, my boat did slide off the car to start the day, but it didn’t end it – and neither did this). 

 

I’ve come to believe that when fate seems to have you backed up against a wall it’s best to keep your options open - you may just discover that there’s a door at the end of that seemingly dead-end hallway!  And if there isn’t, wait for it – opportunity may eventually knock on the wall just before the door materializes.  I’ve had doors slam on me a few times, but I went on to find that my past failures had actually strengthened me and that I had the perseverance to wait things out until I found something better.  Anyway, if you’re in such a situation please don’t give up!

 

OK.  I’m done…

 

Across from all the activity in Kentucky, I found the Ohio shoreline to be pretty interesting in this section as well.  As mentioned, it started out as farmland, but by the time you get across from the power plant near mile 415 it’ll have become more hilly and forested.  A road (the US62/52 combination) also emerges from further back, edging up close to the bank and ushering in a long line of houses that stretches all the way down to mile 412.5.  At this point (near some power lines) you’ll be able to catch your first glimpse of one AWESOME looking bridge in the distance, the William H. Harsha ().  More on it in a sec… 

 

The three Mile Creek enters from the Ohio side at mile 412, and downriver from the mouth there’s an interesting spot where some old barges have been left to rust.  They are being utilized though – by the trees!  One looks like a giant flower pot/planter!

 

 

 

As for Three Mile itself, it has a road bridge (US62/52) going over it almost immediately and then it curves to the right, eventually passing some old bridge supports.  I made it back about ¾ miles until I rounded a bend and saw someone’s setup at the back.  Since the creek looked like it dead-ended anyway, I headed back out.

 

 

 

Once you get back to the river it looks like they’re setting up a park that’s also on the Ohio side just before the aforementioned bridge, and a spot appears to have been cleared where they could be putting in a ramp – I couldn’t quite tell.  There’s also a business here - Maysville Ready Mix – and its’ conveyor belt reminded me of giant mechanical snake!

 

 

 

Meanwhile, across the river there are some more discarded barges along a shaded, park-like shore and I got what I think were my best pictures of the bridge from this point earlier as Marathons’ towboat “Speedway “ was going under.  At that point the structure had really caught me by surprise because I’d only just passed under the Simon Kenton Bridge in Maysville.  Apparently this (Harsha) bridge was erected to eventually replace the Kenton and it was completed in 2000.  It’s the first cable-stayed bridge ever built in Kentucky and the supports look like the tuning forks that a doctor bangs against your knee to check your reflexes!

  

 

 

 

 

Once you pass under this bridge the shorelines will seem to switch scenery.  Kentucky will now have the forested hills in the background with Maysville visible downstream and the CSX railroad track previously mentioned will now be running directly beside the river, as will KY8.  Meanwhile, the shorelines in Ohio will get lower to let in some more farmland with the community of Huntington Park lying further inland.   You won’t be able to see much of it though – only a few houses along the shoreline.

 

Then, at about mile 409.5 there’s an interesting spot with an old pier set up and there were a few old and halfway submerged watercraft here, one of which appears to have been an old towboat.  The spot may be part of the CSX operation, and the charts indicate that a water intake for the H & E Pogue Distillery is near this spot too, but I must have missed it.  (As I now research it, Pogues ceased operations here in 1950, but it looks like they may be making a comeback http://www.oldpogue.com/News.htm!)

 

 

 

You’re now fully in Maysville at this point, and it’s got a 3-tiered row of houses with forested hills as a backdrop (there may even be a fourth tier up there - I couldn’t quite tell).  The railroad track, as mentioned, is directly alongside the river.  Then comes West 2nd Street (or Kentucky Route 8) above, followed by West 3rd Street.  Between each is a row of houses.  It looks nice. 

 

At the time I was paddling by, about dusk, the setting sun was shining its last beams of light on the downtown area and a neon sign caught my eye onshore.  I decided to try and find out what it was.  It turned out to be Caproni’s (I think).  They’ve really got you covered on Italian food out here!  I also passed by a place called Pasquale’s as I was coming into town along with another pizza place that I forgot the name of - Mike’s, I think?  

 

Anyway, the charts indicate that the Lively Lady Marina is on the Ohio side at about mile 409 just prior to reaching Fish Gut Creek (what a name!  Aaaaargh!!!).  Here I saw a set of barges coming toward me from downriver and I had another decision to make.  Since I like to get pictures of the towboats if at all possible, I wondered if I should wait until the vessel reached me to do so, or if I had enough time to paddle into the creek first…  Eventually opting for the latter, I didn’t get in far - maybe a couple hundred yards – and by the time I got back it was too late to catch the name of the boat.

 

 

 

Next up came my put-in location in Aberdeen followed by the Simon Kenton Bridge (http://masoncountyky.blogspot.com/2007/10/history-of-simon-kenton-memorial-bridge.html) at mile 408.5.  This is another beautiful structure named after one of our great pioneers.  From what I’ve read, Simon Kenton’s exploits rank right up there with those of Daniel Boone.  In fact, there’s not been another book which has more fascinated me than the one written by Allan Eckert called the Frontiersmen.  It’s one based on Kenton’s life and parallels his experiences with those of the great Indian chief, Tecumseh (http://www.jsfbooks.com/bookdetails.asp?ProductID=533).  Another great book is Simon Kenton, Indian Scout by Thomas D. Clark (http://www.jsfbooks.com/bookdetails.asp?ProductID=89).  There are more…

 

The aforementioned Maysville Riverfront Park (remember the murals?) comes just before the bridge, and afterward the shoreline doesn’t go back too far before you get the sharp ascent of the floodwall which extends all the way from downtown Maysville to the Maysville River Park (as opposed to Maysville Riverfront Park) on the far east side of town at mile 407, my endpoint for today.  From down on the water this wall almost looks like a “gag” over the mouth of the city – you can only see the top half.  Meanwhile, the Rigdon Boat Club comes after the bridge in Ohio.

 

 

 

Before reaching my endpoint today I had a couple barges pass me within a short period of time, Ingram Barges Harllee Branch Jr. (http://www.ingrambarge.com), and American Electric Power’s D & R Boney (http://www.aepriverops.com).  I’ve mentioned Ingram Barge before, and they seem to have more towboats operating on the Ohio than anyone else I’ve seen so far. The American Electric Power (a.k.a. AEP) vessel I saw is part of that company’s River Operations Division and according to their website they have a fleet of over 3,100 hopper barges and 85 boats!

 

 

 

At any rate, the first of a few little surprises greeted me once I reached my endpoint at the ramp at mile 407.  Turns out, there’s a very small cove back here that I missed the last time, kind of a little “bowl” along the banks of which were parked quite a few RV’s (the park also offers that service and you can get more information at the City of Maysville website link above). 

 

My next little surprise - or should I say my second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth surprises awaited me when I got back to my put-in point in Aberdeen.  If you’re out on the water you just never know what you’ll run into at the ramps - especially solo and after dark.  What kinds of people?  Will they be friendly?  Will their dogs be friendly?  You just never know!  I haven’t yet had a problem, but you still have to be prepared for anything and I think a certain amount of anxiety is healthy.  These are the only points in my excursions that I wish I wasn’t traveling alone.  Well, today I kind of wasn’t…

 

 

 

There at the little pier (picture above was taken earlier in the day) was a father with 4 children taking in the peacefulness of the river amidst the fading light of day.  “Was it scary?” One of the children asked me about paddling the river... 

 

I was thinking:  “Not when you’re greeted at the end of your trip by such a nice family!”, but instead I just mentioned that you have to get way over to the side when the barges come by, other than that it’s OK. 

 

I’ll not soon forget this family.  What a great day on the Ohio River in Maysville/Aberdeen!

 

DIRECTIONS:

 

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 (passing the aforementioned Pasquale’s as you do) and once you reach the final stop light, make a left and stay in the left lane to enter the downtown area.  You’ll then make a right over the bridge at a stop light ( Ferry Street). 

 

After crossing take a left at the “T” and then make another left on the 6th street (Market Place).  The ramp is at the end of this street.