Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tuesday in Cincinnati

Following breakfast, we bussed to the Cincinnati riverfront and boarded the P.A. Docking Riverboat. Originally a towboat on the Ohio, it is now part of the Foundation for Ohio River Education (FORE). We spent two hours touring the river on the boat; as we did so we had a number of optional activities in which to participate.

The activities included sightseeing, a water chemistry project, lecture on Ohio River history, birding on the river, and a study of the microecology of the river (looking at microscopic forms removed from the river). I tried a little of each of these activities. This was a wonderful activity.

Following lunch, we drove southwest into Kentucky to the Markland Locks and Dam. In the early years of travel on the Ohio River, journeys could be delayed for days during low water stages and sometimes the river was closed to travel. Today because of series of locks and dam built along the 978 mile length of the river, river travel is much more predictable and the river is open most of the year. At the lock we learned about how the lock and dam system works. As good luck would have it, while we were at the lock when the largest tow possible (15 barges of coal) arrived at the lock and we were able to witness part of the process of its movement though the lock. By the way, "Why is called a Tow boat when it pushes, not tows?". The group of barges is called a "tow" and this boat moves the tow. Now you know.

We left Markland and drove farther southwest to the town of Carrollton, Kentucky. This town is located at the convergence of the Ohio River and the Kentucky River. While there, we viewed the convergence at a local park and heard some local rivertown history. We then drove to the other side of town and visited Lock #1 along the Kentucky River (much older and smaller than the Markland Lock). We also visited the General Butler State Park where we toured the historic home of General Butler, Adjutant General of the Kentucky Militia. Our leader for our Carrollton tour was Evelyn Welch, Historic Site Museum Manager for the Butler-Turpin House.

This evening, following a dinner which included Cincinnati-style chili, we were entertained by the Hills of Kentucky Dulcimer Society. Nineteen memeber of the club played familiar tunes which featured a number of instruments in addition to many dulcimers. The talent and enthusiasm of this group for their art made this a wonderful way to end our second day.

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