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Excuse the poor foto, but that’s a tug below . . . or more accurately a towboat, although that’s a misnomer given that it pushes a barge.

Equally poor quality, here’s the towboat Gateway Liner (48′ x 16′ x 5′ and built in 1957) with the barge it pushes, a people carrier called Party Liner (built in 1966).

Majestic (built in 1987) is part of the same fleet, here rounding the point from the Mon into the Allegheny.

The forward mounted gangway or two has always intrigued me about these vessels. It looks almost to be a bowsprit, without a figurehead, of course. Would crew doing lookout at the forward tip be called a “bowsprite”?

As seen on the bow of Belle of Louisville (built in Pittsburgh in 1914), the gangplank gets easily stowed out of the way of deck traffic. Belle‘s office’s are located in a historic floating lifesaving station. In Belle‘s earlier lives, it carried cargoes of cotton, lumber, and grain as well as passengers.

I can’t look at these riverboats and not think of Mark Twain. Here’s a great alphabetical listing of great Twain quotes. Some of my favorites relate to water, pirates, the Mississippi, ships, Cincinnati, and New York. Hmm . . . did he write nothing about the Ohio?

By the way, the sixth boro has a few sorry looking sternwheelers, but around the same weekend tugboats gather up the river here, Marietta seems to have a gathering worthy of a trip to the Ohio.

Photos, WVD.

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June 2008