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Ohio River


Brooksburg, Indiana (551) to Carrollton, Kentucky (Mile 545.5)


Monday, October 18, 2010




I love coming back to Carrollton, Kentucky!  It’s a beautiful location at the convergence of the Ohio River and the Kentucky River, and it’ll always hold a special place for me.  In 2007 I attempted a complete navigation of the Kentucky River, but I decided to hold the suspense of seeing this city until I’d actually paddled all the way down to it - I wanted to do the river in sequence.  Problem is, I failed that year.  It would have to wait... 


Well, the next year I was able to finish but it had taken me so long to reach this point that with each successive day that passed I was more and more anxious to see it, and when I finally arrived it definitely didn’t disappoint.  It’s been a favorite ever since.  The thing I love about this community (more info at ( is that the people who live here really seem to enjoy it.  When I drove out at dusk I think that everyone in town must have been out walking the streets or strolling down by the river.  I love to see that kind of spirit in a town!




You can easily reach Carrollton via Interstate 64 between Louisville, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio, but I drove in from Lexington and decided to go through Frankfort.  If you, too, are driving from Lexington and come this way you won’t find that it costs you any extra time following these back roads and lemmetellya – if you’re looking for one very pleasant drive this is it, especially in the fall.  You won’t believe how beautiful it is (full directions below)!


Anyway, once I arrived I got on the water and paddled down to Brooksburg, Indiana to begin.  Brooksburg is a very small community, but what distinguishes it is that there’s a day marker here (550.9 as per the charts) amidst the line of houses (along with a couple ramps that looked private).  Also interesting is that it looks like there’s a boat repair place here too and you can see a very old towboat up on shore along with a couple old barges.  This could be Adam’s Marine which the charts indicate is at this point.  Kelly’s Landing is also here, but I can’t seem to find out any more on these places other than that.




Definitely the most interesting thing I saw today was across the river on the Kentucky side.  It caught me completely out of the blue!  Someone had made a…  Uh…  I don’t know how to describe it, but I thought it was awesome!  Someone had taken the time to collect all the toys out of the trash on the river and make a work of art out of them!  The scene reminded me of the Land of Misfit Toys from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!




This section of the river is, as you might expect, almost all farmland and Indiana route 56 will follow the river in Indiana with Kentucky route 36 doing the same in Kentucky.  I was really impressed by the shorelines in this section too.  The ones in Indiana were nicer this time in terms of trash, but almost every inch on both sides was gently sloping with a fairly large sand/pebble beach.  In fact, it appeared as if one community at mile 548.9 was actually called Sandy Beach.





I’m getting ahead of myself, though...  First, the Indian Kentuck Creek enters the river at mile 550.5, and this creek looked very popular today.  In fact, the only power boats I saw in the area made their way directly to this point and there was also a fisherman on the shore when I arrived, so I decided against paddling in this time.  Maybe on the next downriver section I’ll be able to rectify this and relate what it’s like.


From this creek I soon came upon another little line of dwellings (again in Indiana) where there were a couple more seemingly private ramps.  One of the homes here really stood out.  Resting atop a hill above the beach, the embankment in front of it seemed to be reinforced with a very large number of what I think were railroad ties.  It also had one of those cool looking circular stairways which extended down to the beach from it. 


Just upriver from this point on the Kentucky side at about mile 549.5, the Locust Creek enters.  This is one I did paddle into, getting about 500 yards before I was blocked at a KY36 bridge which had too much deadfall debris under it to be passable, and once back on the river two towboats passed me in quick succession.  The first was Marathons’ Detroit.  The Detroit is an old friend now!  I encountered the vessel in my Markland Dam to Warsaw, Kentucky trip too. 


The C.J. McBride was the second.  It was much smaller, carrying a single barge, and while I couldn’t find any ownership info on this one I do see from the towboat gallery website ( that it’s 61 feet in length and 22 feet in width.  A great sight on the river, this boat was a very interesting contrast to all the larger ones I’d seen!




Anyway, at about mile 549 you’ll find that Kentucky Route 36 will begin to crop in toward the river and the farmland will disappear, to be replaced with a backdrop of forested hills (not to worry, the farmland will continue on the Indiana side!).  Meanwhile, remember the beaches I described on the Indiana shoreline and how gently sloping they were?  Well, ever since passing the Indian Kentuck River I’d been noticing what looked like a vehicle path, and just prior to reaching the aforementioned community of Sandy Beach, Indiana I found that it was being used… 


At one point I got out of the boat to stretch and get some pictures, you see, and once I’d gotten back in again I saw a gentleman in a golf cart come down the Sandy Beach ramp and drive down to about the point where I’d gotten out.  Methinks I’d been watched!  Sandy Beach is distinguishable by the painted rocks you’ll see at the end of the ramp and they also have a sign which designates the community’s name at the top. 


The Notch Creek enters in Kentucky at about this point (unnavigable under a culvert) and there was another green day marker as the river began to curve left, heading toward Carrollton.  Also interesting further up along this side was that someone had gotten into the Halloween spirit and left a jack-o-lantern out on one of the tree stumps down by the water.  I got pictures but they unfortunately all turned out blurred.


Next up was the Little Kentucky River at about mile 546.5 and I found this one to be really nice, getting in about 1 ¼ miles thanks to someone’s consideration.  There was a large fallen tree maybe a few hundred yards in, you see, and had it not been cut at the end I wouldn’t have been able to get back as far as I did.  As it was, I was able to continue paddling, first passing under another KY36 road bridge before I was blocked by low water at the second of two large shoals.




It was as I was looking down a straight section on my return paddle that I espied AEP’s ( Capt. Gerald Boggs vessel up ahead on the Ohio, and the Paul Striegel (also an AEP vessel) was trailing right behind it, empty.  I’d not seen this before, but I’m sure it must be a pretty common sight out here.




I remember from working in the moving and storage industry that if a semi goes to a location which is less than optimal for making another pickup, the truck has to either wait for one or has to go to another location – empty – and pick one up.  Regrettably, the trucker isn’t making any money during this time, and if they do decide to relocate for cargo, that drive is called a “dead-head”.  It means (or meant) that the driver would have to absorb the cost of making that empty drive to the other location.  I wondered if the situation was the same for these vessels as well…


Anyway, the charts indicate that the Green Valley Creek enters in Indiana at about this point, but it wasn’t navigable today.  The community of Lamb, Indiana was here too.  I couldn’t see too much of it besides the houses along the shore, but I certainly could see the Barbara H sternwheel boat!




According to their website ( the Barbara H is the oldest operating sternwheel boat in the nation, and I was lucky to have the pleasure of seeing it in action on the Kentucky River last year.  It’s such a beautiful sight that I'll have to find that picture too and put it up. 


The Kentucky River was next, but I passed it up today since I’d already explored it previously.  I can tell you, however, that the Kentucky is a great experience to paddle and it really gives you a feel for the flavor and the history of the areas of the state through which it flows – including the capital of Frankfort.  If interested, I’ve made a complete photo-documentation of this 250+ mile river along with detailed directions to a majority of the put-ins and, should you have any questions about it or any of the things on this site, please don’t hesitate to ask.  My address is on the “Who I Am” page.



Prestonville, Kentucky is to the downriver side of the Kentucky’s mouth and Carrollton is on the upriver side.  While the former is a bit too receded from the shoreline to see much of it, Carrollton is right there!  Since this was to be my end point for today and it was early (I thought that it would take me a bit longer to paddle the Little Kentucky River) I had some time.  I decided to paddle around for a while.




In doing so, I noted that Point Park (where I put-in) is really pretty large.  In terms of shoreline it almost seemed to make up 1/3 of the town!  There’s also a ramp which descends from the heart of the city about another ½ mile up from the park and you could use this one if you wanted, but it looks a bit easier at the park.  There are also a few more ramps here over on the Indiana side, but they’re almost surely private along a very nice line of houses.




Anyway, when I finally arrived back at the ramp I had the pleasure of talking to a couple gentlemen, both a father and his son who appeared to be a toddler.  This was no ordinary toddler, though!  This one was a trophy fisherman, and he was actually fishing from a stroller!  According to his father, this little guy had once caught a prize fish out here in the presence of a game warden.  I was pretty amazed by how relaxed he was too!  Most kids his age just can’t keep still!  The father was interesting too - he looked to be fishing with a cylindrical net, maybe a couple feet in diameter and a few feet in height and although he didn’t seem to be having much luck, I do hope that changed once I left. 


It seems to me there’s no better sight to see than a father out enjoying the peaceful sport of fishing with his kids.  In fact, as I think about it now I’ve got to believe that at such an impressionable age, this young man will now be instilled with the quality of peace and will be able to call upon this spirit within himself whenever he most needs it - later on in life.  My father took me fishing too.  Maybe that’s why I so often seek peace.


At any rate, a couple more towboats passed before I left and, of course, I had to stay and get some more pictures!  The first was the same Paul Striegel (AEP) vessel that had passed me at the mouth of the Little Kentucky earlier in the day, without barges.  He now had some.  It occurred to me that he must have picked them up somewhere close and that I’d probably see where on my next upriver excursion.  Marathons’ Garyville passed right behind him, but you’ll note that both pictures below are of the Streigel because I believe that they were the best shots I got.  I also feel they give you a good idea of the kind of pleasant scenes you’ll see when you visit Carrolltons’ Point Park!










Carrollton is directly accessible from Louisville or Cincinnati via Interstate 71.  Just take the KY227 exit and head north.  Then, once you hit the dead-end you'll take a left on US42.  The park with the ramp ( Point Park) will be on the far side of town on the right just before you go over a bridge.  You'll see a sign for it.


Scenic Drive from Lexington:


As far as what I did from Lexington, I first went to Frankfort and then headed north on US127.  Then, just past Monterrey, Kentucky I took a left onto KY355 and followed it and the signs to the General Butler State Park (they indicate that it’s 25 miles up ahead) in Carrollton.  The farms in here will stun you in the fall with their beauty, and you’ll also go through the communities of Gratz and Fairview (you can stop at the News Café in Gratz or the Fairview Restaurant in Fairview if you’re hungry). 


KY355 will eventually dead-end (in a little less than 20 miles) and you’ll make a left on KY227 and follow it all the way (past General Butler Park which also has a restaurant – Two Rivers) until it, too, dead-ends at KY42.  Make another left, go through town, and then just before you go over a bridge you’ll see a sign for Point Park on your right.