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Call this grand finale, third of three on Nola traffic . . .  but of course, that’s contrived; there is no finale except to my reporting.  Powered traffic has operated here since Roosevelt, the great grand uncle and aunt of TR,  Nicholas Roosevelt and Lydia Latrobe Roosevelt, their second arrival there in 1811!  I’d love to time travel back to join them on their first trip by flatboat and their second by steamer New Orleans.

I’d put money on a bet that Federal Crimson is going to load grain for export. The grain comes down river in barges pushed by the likes of Penny EcksteinPenny is part of the huge Marquette Transportation fleet, and at 4600+ hp, she’s one of the least powerful. 


The 2015 Crimson is part of the Montreal-based, foreign-flagged dry bulk fleet called FedNav.

Only recently have the old Algiers ferriesArmiger and Porteriere–been replaced by the sleek catamarans, including RTA  2.  In the link for RTA 2, there’s an unexpected SUNY Maritime connection.

Blanco is part of the huge Kirby inland fleet, approximately 250 tugs and over 1000 barges.

The 2012 Pan Unity, loaded along the big Muddy is on her way to the Mediterranean, and who knows where beyond that.

The 2012 Capt Niles Shoemaker comes from a shipyard in Bayou LaBatre.

Ensemble here was headed for Altamira MX, and has already departed there back to the US port of Houston.

Capes Kennedy and Knox have been at the ready here since 1996 and served post-Katrina.

I love the grand stairs here, and find I’m not the only person who frequents them as a platform.

The 1992 Capt. Bud Bisso has operated in these waters under that name since her launch.

Salvation, 2009, is another tugboat out of Bayou LaBatre.  Salvation is also a Marquette Transportation boat.

Creole Queen stays busy.

War Emblem has carried many liveries since 1982, including Kirby colors, but her current name is rather unusual. Her operator, Turn Services, operates over three dozen vessels.

I took photos of a sister of the 2017 tanker Stena Imprimis in the sixth boro, and I’ve yet to post them.  I AM remiss!

Mark Dougherty operates for ACBL has over 3500 barges and almost 200 towboats on the Mississippi. 



The 1981 Joseph Merrick Jones has been part of the Canal Barge Co. fleet almost since its launch.

All photos, WVD, who refuses to call this a finale of any sort since the river flows on, the boats traffic 365/24, and I hope to return soon. And although this blog may seem obsessive, I try to keep my own personal levees in place to confine that energy to recording vessel traffic on this blog.

Three 2022 calendars remain in the market stall at tugster tower, $20 each.  After they’re gone, I close the merch division for another 11 months.   If interested, email me your USPS address.

All photos here thanks to Tim Powell.  What I noticed is that these all have a tugboat and a truck; hence . . . trugster.  And the last photo here has yet another mode of land transport.

Note the stepvan on the bank?

A. E. Clifford dates from 1947.   Click here for previous tugster fish tug posts.   Off Clifford‘s stern, that’s Forney, which you’ve seen before here.  And off Forney‘s starboard is a Ford pickup.  The photos above and below Tim took in Superior WI, next to Duluth.

So here’s the delivery truck for B & M Delivery, a service of B & M Boat Store.  Neil N. Diehl has an esteemed namesake.

Need grub along this section of the Mississippi?  Just fill out the grocery  form.  Since this is an inland waterway with locks, you can figure out where the best place for the delivery is.  B & M is at mile marker 403 upper Mississippi River. If the delivery truck needs need info about the boat, Dick’s towboat gallery is on the same site.

And if the towboat can’t make it to shore, the truck can tow a launch.

Rigger looks like it could be a pilot boat or a small tug like Augie, but I have no further info.  Note the locomotive in the background among the grain silos?

Many thanks to Tim Powell for all these photos.  And if you see a tugboat juxtaposed with a truck or train, we can make a “trugster 2” post.

I’m hoping to drive out to the Mississippi River watershed a bit later this year.

By the way, I just checked, and this is tugster post 4959, which means in 40 posts or so from now, a big milestone passes.  Hmm . . .


Once Lock 11 has emptied, the gates open and the remaining barges are pushed in.


The Mississippi system is new to me, so here’s a question:  since this lock opened for navigation in 1937, what did traffic look like the first year?  Was double-locking a common occurrence?

Here’s a glance at how the tow is held together.





At first the exit is slow, but once the forward six barges are wired in place, which took no more than 10 minutes,

Barrett’s 6000+ hp engines accelerated, turbos screamed, and

her wake raced away.

Here’s the view back up to Eagle Point Park, where I took the first photos from.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.


Well . . . I was on a schedule to get to Dubuque, so the title provides alliteration if not accuracy.

Our timing was such that we could watch a tow make its way upbound at Lock & Dam 11, aka Eagle Point.

M/V Aaron F. Barrett was pushing twelve cement barges to St. Paul.


It was soon apparent to me that this would be a double-locking.

My estimate of barge length was about 200′.


There area just up from the lock was off limits, so I had no opportunity to see the mechanism that moves the non-propelled barges forward along the approach wall.   Anyone help with details here?



All photos by Will Van Dorp, who’s now working on part 2.



Kirby pushboat Niceville, named for a Florida town that used to be Boggy, rounds


the bend at Algiers Point.


Marquette’s St. Peter heads




Classic 1956 George W. Lenzie . ..


was built at the Calumet Ship Yard & Dry Dock in Chicago, where Daryl Hannah was also built in 1956, launched three months after George W. Lenzie.


Gregory David heads downstream under the spans of the Business 90 Bridge.


The water tower in the background is on Guadalcanal Street in Federal City.


Affirmed is a 2009 boat, here headed downstream.




All photos by Will Van Dorp, but if you want a great database for inland river tugs, check out Dick’s Towboat gallery.  Here are the previous posts in this series.


Apologies if you received a premature version of this post;  I hit the wrong button.

“Light” here refers not to load but to sunshine and clouds.  These photos were taken just below Algiers Point in unsettled December weather.  Some buildings of New Orleans are visible on the horizon to the left.


These photos of Capes Kennedy and Knox were taken


about an hour apart.  As part of the Ready Reserve fleet, they can be deployed with five days’ notice.


SFL Kent–photos taken about an hour apart–as of this posting, she’s en route


to Morocco.


Notice the EO on the stack beyond the starboard side of SFL Kent?


It’s Alice‘s sister Elsa!




UBC Saiki is currently in Veracruz.




These photos were taken within minutes of each other.


Since this photo was taken, Century Royal has sailed to the DR.




All photos by Will Van Dorp.


I must get back to downstream and upstream tows on the Mississippi soon, but I seriously misread this oncoming vessel.  Some of you might figure out my misread before the end of this post.


What attracted my eye to Florida Enterprise was the superstructure, specifically the cranes overtop the holds.


I’d seen structures somewhat like these on a ship in the KVK here … but they were not quite the same.


Because of poor lighting and large distance relative to my position, I missed the really unusual feature of the vessel


–or rather vessels–which I should have


seen here.  See it?


Florida Enterprise is a barge, and the prime mover here


is now called Coastal 202.  Below is a photo taken by Barry Andersen, which I got permission to use from Fred Miller II, which shows Coastal 202–then called Jamie A. Baxter–light, an ITB out of the notch. The photo below was taken soon after the tug’s launch in mid-1977 from Peterson Builders in Sturgeon Bay WI.  Here’s another taken when the vessel was out of the notch and then known as Barbara Knessel.  


Click here for some ITB posts I did back in 2008.   Click here for a better view of Coastal 202 and her cargo barge that shows she is in fact an ITB.

Now I’d love to see Coastal 202 out of the notch from all angles and to see ISH’s rail ferry too.

Truth be told, another surprise was that nola hula was nowhere to be seen  . ..  maybe headed out to sea like that humpback that splashed around the sixth boro last month?


Much more catching up to do, but first, I share some New Orleans photos from last week and then related photos and response from my inbox to the review of Tugboats Illustrated here.

This first series I include because I’m amazed by this maneuver, but it does not effectively depict it because a) I was moving behind and then alongside and forward of it in the series of photos taken over a 30-minute period of time, and b) I would need to get the photos from a fixed aerial position as it made the turn, and c) this is a relatively small tow . . . only 12 barges in relatively calm conditions.

Starting at 4:23 pm last Tuesday, I was following Ingram Barge Co. Mike Schmaeng.  Many years ago now I did this post on Ingram.  Ingram is a company that operates 150 boats, 5000 barges, over 4500 miles of inland waterway . . . all approximate numbers.














On my next trip to Nola, I’ll set up on a tripod at a fixed point, maybe the upstream end of Crescent Park.  I also intend to check out some tighter points, such as Wilkerson Point, shown below.


So now, in response to this photo from my review of Tugboats Illustrated . . .


in my inbox, I got this note from a retired professional brown water mariner who wishes NO fistfights or pissing contest:

“RE: Sketch from the tugboat book.

The sketch showing a tow in a flanking maneuver is not how we do it on the inland rivers. If a tow is flanked as shown in the sketch, it will ALWAYS end up against the bank below the bend.   Attached is a photo of a towboat flanking Wilkerson Point, just above Baton Rouge.
You can see from the wheel wash that the pilot is backing full astern to get the stern of the tow near the inside of the bend. He is not quite in position yet, but the tow will take up nearly the entire river. The stern of the boat will only be a hundred or so feet off the point all the way around the bend. A pilot will call on the radio, stating his intention to flank such and such a bend, point or bridge. Because for all purposes, the channel will be blocked, ALL northbound traffic, including ships will be required to stop well below the bend. From the time the pilot stops his engines to get into the flanking position until he can come full ahead coming out of the bend, it may take 30 to 45 minutes. The tow will probably not be in a position to come full ahead again until it is in the area of the refinery at top right.
All “heavy” tows like this will flank certain bends and bridges between St. Louis and New Orleans at certain stages of the river. Before departing St. Louis, a downbound tow will place “flanking” buoys at each outboard stern barge. The buoys are marked on the second photo [with letter Os]. Since the current is used to float the tow around the bend, the inner buoy will show the pilot when there is no sternway or headway in the current and it is this buoy which tells the pilot that the flank is being correctly done. A flanking buoy is in place on the other corner because there are both left and right hand flanks required.
A tow of 35 loaded barges is common on the Mississippi River. A downbound tow will be made up seven wide and five long, not as stated in the book. A pilot has better control of such a tow during a flank. A northbound tow will be made up seven long and five wide, to get it through the current better.
The boat pictured in the photo is the AUSTEN S. CARGILL (now Justin Paul Eckstein), owned by Cargo Carriers, Inc., Minneapolis, a Cargill subsidiary. It is 182 by 55 feet. It is triple screw and at the time of the photo had a total of 6,630 hp. This photo was taken in 1964. It had 57,908 tons of grain in 40 barges, according to Cargill.  A tow being flanked may need just a gentle touch on the head of the tow;  that is why the tug is approaching the head of the tow, to assist if needed.
/s/ USCG licensed “Mate, Upon All Inland Rivers, Steam and Motor, All Gross Tons”


Thank you, sir.  And I hadn’t known about flanking buoys.

Click here for a 5-minute video by Towboat Toby who gives a really clear explanation as he walks a tow downstream around Wilkerson’s Point in high water.  Towboat Toby, I’m your fan!

So,  what think you, readers . . . and I don’t mean to backpedal on Paul Farrell’s excellent book, could that particular drawing have been modified to improve verisimilitude?  I like the looseness of Mr. Farrell’s drawings for the most part, but I think the Mate makes a good point.  And just calm talk . ..  not punches, please.  The writer makes a reasoned and constructive comment.

Despite the distance and the fog covering the escutcheon,  I could immediately identify this tug–once a regular on the Hudson and in the sixth boro– on the Mississippi.


Let me end out this series with tugboats and other vessels:  Sydney Ann


and Brandi,


Mary Parker and


Port Ship Service Little Ray


David J. Cooper and


Bulk Guatemala with selfie-shooting watch stander,


Sonny Ivey and


Connie Z,




Jena Marie C, 


Capt CJ, and


fireboat Gen. Roy S. Kelley,


Jo Provel with the 9th steamboat named Natchez.


Now all of this has nothing to do with the photo below, which nevertheless deserves recognition . . . interactive art which really seems to have caught on.  Thanks, Candy Chang.


All photos by Will Van Dorp, who’s even now in the cold NYC air plotting a return to




I’m dedicating these to Otis Redding . . . .   and I know I’m getting some details wrong and will correct when I’m back.  Thanks much for your comments and corrections.  My day started with Overseas Houston.  I think I just missed Christian Reinauer headed upstream before light in my location;


followed by an upstream flanking turn by B. John Yeager. . .



and more including Custom.


Farther upstream –can you guess where– I caught Catherine S and fleetmates;


Can you identify this massive levee?


Presager‘s background may help.


Creole Sun and a cluster of tugs and barges await while . . .


Myra Epstein powers


a long train of barges,


and churns up the Mississippi cafe au lait.


OK . .  answer tomorrow . . . can you idenify this vessel?


All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who’s headed north along the defining river of this continent.

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