From a distance and this angle, the tow looks modest as it approached lock 18.

But as it lined up, it was clearly going to need to double lock.

Keeping in mind that these standard size barges are 200′ x 35′, there’s 1000′ of barges, 105′ wide. Add to that, 145′ of towboat.  That means this tow will be double-locked through.  More on that later in the post.

I take it the poles on the bow of the barges here are depth sounders.

The power cord is the giveaway.  Is that a ratchet bar?  If so, I’m guessing its there to keep the transponder in the water.

This tow was made up of a mixed set of barges.  I saw no container barges, but I know they exist.


Dirt?  Fertilizer ingredients?

When the first three rows of barges are in, the lock chamber is filled.  So the tow is split, as the deckhand there is doing.  Then the towboat will move along with the two rows of barges closest to the towboat.

The first part of the tow is raised, and then a cable and capstan clears them out of the lock.

The towboat pushes those barges in, and they all get raised.

Note the cabling pattern.  Any guesses on numbers of this towboat?


Once she’s up, the two portions of the tow get cabled back together, and

M/V Samuel B. Richmond powers them all out and upriver.

The lock is then prepared for the next two.  Note a down bound tow waiting.

All photos, any errors, WVD.

M/V Samuel B. Richmond.  1982.   145′ x 48′.     6000 hp