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Ohio River

 

Cox Park Northeast of Louisville (Mile 600) to Fourteen Mile Creek (Mile 589.5)

 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

 

 

(This was a somewhat challenging journal to compose, what with everything going on in Louisville.  So, if you find anything factually inaccurate in here that you’d care to set me straight on, please feel free to contact me.  My email address is on the “WHO I AM” page.)

 

 

It really is truly amazing how much water access you have within 2 hours of Lexington, Kentucky – close to 1000 miles I’d bet.  You’ve got around 200 on the Ohio alone, then 250+ on the Kentucky River (not including tributaries), and maybe 100 additional on the Licking.  When you then add in all the other rivers and lakes, you’ll see that Kentucky truly is a paddlers’ paradise!   

 

Anyway, this stretch of the Ohio River is very close to Louisville and once you get out on the water you’ll be able to see the downtown area.  The view is simply outstanding!  In fact, I’ll admit that this river is really starting to get to me and that I have had visions of paddling the entire thing.  What I may attempt to do is document as much as I can before the winter and then resume in the spring, going until I run out of funds.

 

 

 

(Speaking to that; this economy has really left a lot of people feeling down and, having experienced it, I’ve reached some conclusions.  It occurs to me that if you’re prone to misfortune then you lose confidence.  No confidence, no self esteem.  No self esteem, no social life.  No social life, very little chance of success – at anything!  It’s a vicious cycle that can really bring you down if you don’t find a good coping mechanism.  The outdoors has been that mechanism for me, and I hope that these journals will prove to be of assistance to others in this regard.)

 

The charts for this section of the Ohio are number’s 87 through 89 and they’re available at:   http://www.lrl.usace.army.mil/optm/article.asp?id=651&MyCategory=41.  Today I put in at Carrie Gaulbert Cox Park (a.k.a. Cox Park - (http://www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroParks/parks/cox/) near mile 600.  This is a really nice one with a paved ramp, restrooms, plenty of parking space, and a fishing pier.  (Actually, there’s another park on the opposite side of River Road from this one - Thurman Hutchins http://www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroParks/parks/thurmanhutchins/). 

 

When I got on the water a little after 10AM I decided to very quickly cross over to the other side.  Just my experience, but I’ve found that it’s safer to make your crossings earlier in the day.  I notice fewer boats out on the water during such times and that of the ones that are out; most are operated by a pretty easy-going crowd.  Later on in the day is when you’re apt to get more boats and a generally more aggressive crowd.  Not out any sense of malice, per se, it’s just that there’s less time in the day and people want to get the most out of that little remaining time. 

 

Anyway, across the river from Cox Park on the Indiana side there’s another – Duffy’s Landing in Jeffersonville, Indiana.  Like Cox, there’s a nice paved ramp here, plenty of parking and a port-a-bathroom.  It was here that I turned upstream to begin, wondering how far I’d get before I had to turn back… 

 

Today the first mile or so was fairly quiet with the aforementioned parks on either side of the river, but following on the Kentucky shoreline was the Louisville Boat Club (http://www.louisvilleboatclub.com) at mile 599.  This club is interesting.  Apparently founded in 1879, it’s the third oldest boating club in the country!  You can’t see much of it from the water though - just the docks.  The club itself is across River Road, which at this point will be winding almost directly beside the river atop the bank (and will continue to do so throughout this stretch). 

 

Meanwhile, the signs of commerce will have already become apparent.  Wooten River Service and Supply is just past mile 599 in Indiana and there were a couple of towboats here today, the Miss Ida among them.  There’s a fantastic photo of this vessel online at http://www.towboatgallery.com/Miss_Ida-0575979.php) that blows away any of the ones I took today.  I did try to get a good picture, of course, but I noticed some guys working onboard and since I know that some people don’t like their picture taken, I stopped.  (Even so, it would be an oversight in a similar circumstance later in the day that would lead me into a bit of trouble…)

 

It was upon curving around Wooten’s that I could first see 6 Mile Island up ahead (it was actually the first of two I’d pass today).  I presume its called 6 mile because it lies 6 miles upriver from downtown Louisville.  No way its 6 miles long - more like 3 in total circumference.  Darling Yachts and Boat Repair is located on the Indiana shoreline here right across from the downriver tip of the island near mile 598.5 (http://www.expertdesignonline.com). 

 

Then comes the Admirals Anchor Yacht Sales and Marina closer to mile 598 (http://www.admiralsanchor.com).  There was a cove here, but I decided to pass it up because of all the traffic (from the charts it doesn’t look like I would have gotten too far anyway).  Meanwhile, I could also see the Knights of Columbus Boat Club on the Kentucky side.

 

At any rate, I had a decision to make at this point:  How did I want to negotiate the island?  I could continue to follow the Indiana shoreline or I could paddle along either side of it…  Decisions, decisions…  What I eventually opted to do was to paddle along the Indiana side of the island.  Not only was it fairly easy to get over there with the island skewed toward the Indiana side, but that way I could also get a better view of was happening up onshore, because there was a lot going on! 

 

This is the location of the Port of Indiana/Jeffersonville (a.k.a. the Clark Maritime Center), and according to its’ website (http://www.portsofindiana.com/poi/jeffersonville/) there are 25 businesses which operate from here!  Well pardon my naivety, but I’ll be honest and admit that I had no idea - I thought a port was a port and that was it.  Wrong!  This might as well be an industrial park with its own dock!  In fact, it’s hard to tell from down on the water where one business ends and another begins, but in looking at a map now I see that I was looking at 3.  All the others were further inland (guess it’s a “tip of the iceberg” kind of thing).

 

 

 

The first and most obvious business was Consolidated Grain and Barge (http://www.cgb.com) with its grain elevators.  More familiarly known as “CGB”, they apparently began their operation with 3 employees in 1970 and have now become a fully diversified company, primarily focused on the grain and transportation industries.  Sounds like a good, old fashioned American success story to me!

 

A Kinder Morgan terminal came up next (http://www.kne.com/business/terminals/ohiovalley/OV-Jeffersonville2009-Jun.pdf), and the first of the 2 “overhangs” you can see in the picture above is part of it.  Kinder Morgan’s operation is pretty vast.  In North America they’re one of the largest pipeline transportation and energy storage companies.  This particular terminal had a couple barge docks, but they have 180 terminals in total!

 

Eagle Steel Products then follows Kinder Morgan (http://www.eaglesteelproducts.com).  According to their website Eagle provides steel products and services to a few different industries, and what I was looking at was a part of their 200,000 square foot processing facility.  Eagle has been in business since 1982 and from here they can transport their products via barge, train or truck.  This was at mile 597 on the river, by the way, and it looked like I was at the end of the port grounds.

 

…but I haven’t even talked about the island yet!  Although quite small, a sign indicated that it’s designated as a nature preserve, so there’s no camping permitted.  The bank here was somewhat steep, but the slope of the river bottom was gentle, and today I could see right down to the bottom.  I enjoyed seeing the wavy patterns in this sand/mud mix, and it gave me an idea...

 

 

 

First a little background:  I wear gloves when I paddle even in the summer so as to ward off the sun.  Sure I could just use suntan lotion, but all it really is is a bunch of chemicals and you have to keep applying it anyway.  Sooo…  I avoid putting it on unless it’s absolutely necessary.  Call it a personal quirk – and one of many.  Anyway, I had realized when I first hit the water that I was missing one of my gloves and that the back of one hand was going to get torched over the course of 8 to 10 hours.  If I could lather some of that sand/mud mix on the back of my hand and let it dry then I’d have a healthier sun block…  It actually worked!

 

At any rate, after passing the island you’ve got a ton more activity between miles 597 and 596, but this time it’s more in terms of incoming streams and boat clubs/docks/marina’s.  First in Indiana

 

There were 2 coves within this mile, the first of which had a sign discouraging entry by order of the Supreme Court!  The second, Lentzier Creek, seemed to basically be a harbor for the Rubaiyat Boat Club.  Again, I didn’t paddle back due to traffic concerns (in fact, I didn’t end up paddling into any coves or streams today), but I did notice a large number of boats upriver from the mouth that seemed to be in various stages of repair. 

 

This was apparently the site of Marine Builders, Inc. (http://www.marinebuilders.com), a company that specializes in a fully diversified array of marine construction and repair.  In fact, it looks like these guys will build or fix any water-related vessel; be it a towboat, barge, yacht, dinner cruise vessel or whatever – and then deliver it to you.  Pretty impressive!

 

…and that’s the Indiana side.  I’m at mile 596 now on the outskirts of the city of Utica.  Hold that thought…

 

Within the same span on the Kentucky side you have the Goose Creek entering at mile 597 with the Juniper Beach Dock (http://www.juniperbeachdocks.com) right inside its’ mouth.  Once again, I didn’t paddle into this one due to traffic, but I was confused by the presence of a Harrods Creek rescue boat!  Harrods doesn’t enter the picture until mile 596…

 

Anyhow, it was just past this point that I got into a bit of trouble on the way back.  You see, there are some simply amazing houses out here - some of the most impressive I’ve ever seen - and one of them really piqued my curiosity.  It sure looked to be inspired by a Frank Lloyd Wright design, and I simply had to get some pictures of this magnificent house so I could try and verify that.  Wright, of course, was a brilliant designer whose houses were erected mostly in the Chicago area, although I knew there to be others in different places.  Was this one of them? 

 

Now I usually don’t care to take pictures of peoples’ property - I feel a little uncomfortable - but I had to find out about this house!  So I took one picture.  Then two…  And before I knew it I’d taken 5 or 6!  Well, after the last of these I saw a man at the balcony…  I froze, mortified that I’d not seen him as he greeted me with a:  “Hello, hello”.  I then half-shouted:  “You’re house looks like a Frank Lloyd Wright!”  No response… 

 

Awkward… 

 

Well, it didn’t take me but an instant to get the point, but it didn’t matter - the damage had already been done.  I was extremely embarrassed!!!  Taken in total, the man’s expressions were ones of:  “Stop taking pictures of my house - yesterday - and get the hell out of here!”  I obliged.  If this man ever happens to read this:  I am very sorry!

 

Back to business – still on the Kentucky side: 

 

Limestone Bay comes up near mile 596.5 and it contains a yacht Club of the same name (http://limestoneyachtclub.com), but there will also be some things to note on either side of its’ mouth.  Downstream is a fantastic looking building (possibly a condominium complex) that is so prominent you’ll have surely seen it well before this point.  Meanwhile, McBride Towing and Drydock is just upriver from the mouth, and there was an interesting assortment of towboats and barges visible here, the Georgia M amongst them. 

 

As mentioned, Harrods Creek is at mile 596.  The Captain’s Quarters Marina (http://www.cqyc.org) can be found back here, and at the mouth there’s a restaurant which also looks to be operated by the good captain!  Everything looks really nice with a great deck overlooking the river at the restaurant.

 

…and now we’re all caught up in our shoreline descriptions as we come together at mile 596, the location of Utica, Indiana…

 

Things get a bit more reserved from this point because after Utica’s line of houses, you’ll predominantly be in the midst of a rural area with little rows of mostly incredible houses coming in intermittently; first at Transylvania Beach at mile 595 in Kentucky and then at Beachland Beach at about mile 594 in Kentucky.  The Louisville Sailing Club lies at the latter (http://www.saillouisville.org/lsc/index.html), and today I could see all the sail-less boats lying in a row at one point onshore – although I did see some out on the water later.  They’re so peaceful in action, but I’ve heard they take a lot of work to operate! 

 

Across the way from this club is another in Indiana.  The building you see with the “CCCC” on it in the midst of another nice line of houses is the Clark County Casting and Conservation Club.  Part of the Longview Beach subdivision of Utica Township (http://ccccclub.org), it was founded in 1935. 

 

Here I had another navigation decision to make, though...  With 12 Mile Island visible just up ahead, I decided to do the same thing as before and navigate around the Indiana side, and when I arrived over at the island I found the beach to be so nice that I got out and walked around a bit.

 

 

You can certainly see why a lot of the communities in this section are named after beaches, and while I didn’t see any nature preserve signs like I had back at 6 Mile, I did see some ducks!  (This island, by the way, is closer to the center of the river than 6 Mile Creek had been.)

 

 

 

I’m now at mile 593 and, blocked from my view at the time was the Alexis Cove on the opposite side of the river.  This spot marks the location of the Louisville Yacht Club (http://www.louisvilleyacht.com) of Prospect, Kentucky and it looks to be all class (the charts show it as being closer to a place they refer to as Belknap Beach, but this is a subdivision in the community of Prospect and not a separate city).

 

Anyway, after enjoying the island a little while longer I headed back over to the Indiana shoreline at mile 592.  Doing so, I noted that it was going to be all farmland all the time on this side of the river from here on out today - no more houses (I also passed a little stream near this point, not getting very far).  What I did notice, however, was that there were a couple interesting structures overlooking the river.  I’d not seen anything like them before - they were raised platforms upon which rested some picnic tables.  Odd…  Some kind of park up there?

 

Yep!  These days it’s known as Charlestown State Park (http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2986.htm), but at one time this site was part of the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, and the structures I’d seen were apparently old industrial water intakes!  The park had a very nice paved ramp too…  Hmmm…

 

 

 

I decided I had to get out and look around a little!  Not only does it look like they’ve left another old structure up as an interpretive exhibit, but it also seems that they offer a few hiking trails with some great river vistas (and a map of these is available at the above website). 

 

Campsites are available too, yet as I stared at the empty parking lot it made me a little sad.  I like to see lots of people out enjoying such nice places!  Granted, summer was over, but I thought I might see some boaters or fishermen.  Well, it turns out that most of the park is located further inland and a bit further upriver, so I was only seeing a small part of it (another “tip of the iceberg”!).

 

As mentioned, the Indiana side from this point on would look like a pleasant wilderness with the 14 Mile Creek entering the river at about mile 589.5.  I would have explored 14 Mile, but I saw a sign at the entrance indicating “Electric Motors Only”.  I was bummed!  This is supposedly a very nice creek and there used to be an old amusement park ( Rose Island Amusement Park) at the mouth.  I had to respect the sign, though.  I figured there had to be a reason for it.

 

 

 

Meanwhile, the Kentucky side had a bit more going on…  After the yacht club back at Belknap Beach there was a brief stretch of farmland followed by a nearly continuous line of riverside homes comprising parts of the communities of Oldham Acres, Harmony Village, and Harmony Landing.  I found the last, Harmony Landing, to be almost directly across from 14 Mile Creek so I thought it a perfect place to turn around. 

 

Not just yet, though!  First the Sara Page push boat passed me coming downriver.  It’s owned by the Crounse Corporation http://www.crounse.com) of Paducah, Kentucky, and was apparently built in 1966…

 

 

 

…then the Marathon Oil push boat, Superamerica passed going downstream...

 

 

 

It wasn’t until these boats had passed me that I began to paddle back over to Kentucky, and getting about ¾ of the way over there I spotted a power boat coming at me in the distance...  No problem – he wouldn’t affect me.  I was almost to safety and he had his boat pointed behind me where he had the majority of the river with no other boats coming.  It was perfect. 

 

But wait… 

 

No... 

 

This guy began to turn his boat to aim it in front of me – between my kayak and the shoreline!  Well, I started paddling frantically to try to get to safety but it was no use.  I wasn’t going to beat a power boat given the distance I still had to span.  Instead, I had to stop dead in my tracks and pray that this "gentleman" didn’t run me over!  I must say, however, that when he sped past he did take the time to stop and look down his nose at me!

 

Once on the opposite shoreline I was at a point just upriver from the cove for Harvey’s on the River Yacht Club (a.k.a. the Rose Island Yacht Club).  There was a ramp at the spot, but I couldn’t tell if it was public.  It might have been part of the apartment complex which looks to be up onshore. 

 

Meanwhile, Harveys (http://www.riyc.net) looks like quite a classy place and there’s a row of identically constructed but massive homes (or condominiums) which extend downriver from it.  There was also a sign for Heather’s on the River (http://www.heathersontheriver.com), but this bar and restaurant didn’t show any signs of life today and I wasn’t sure if it was still operating.  It might just be that it’s seasonal…

 

On my way back I had a lot of tow boat traffic pass me by – and all at nearly the same point:  the William P Morelli of Ingram Barge, the Leslie M. Bell of Crounse Corp., and the now fully loaded Miss Ida that I’d seen earlier in the day down at Wootens’.  There were more too, but I couldn’t quite make them out in the semi-darkness.  As you might expect, there’s a lot of traffic so close to Louisville!

 

Know what I completely missed though?  A paddlewheel boat!!!  I don’t know how I could have missed it, but I only saw it when I came back down to the water for my boat after dropping off my other stuff at the car.  By that point it was too far away to get a good shot.

 

Lot going on today…  Hopefully I’ve given it an OK representation…

 

 

 

DIRECTIONS:

 

I took the Zorn Avenue exit off of I71 east of Louisville and headed north.  Then, making a right at the stop light for River Road (almost immediately and in front of the old pumping station) I began to keep a sharp eye out for the park on the left.  There will be signs for it and there are 2 entrances.  I took the first, and went all the way back to the right, eventually being blocked off from the ramp by an “island” in the middle.  I parked here anyway, since all I had to do was walk my stuff down, but if you’ve got a power boat you’ll want to take the second entrance.