We’re Headed to the Ohio River

We are happy to announce that this coming summer (summer 2019), the Secret History project will be doing fieldwork on the Ohio River. We’ll be starting in Pittsburgh, traveling through Steubenville, Wheeling, Parkersburg, Huntington, Ashland, Cincinnati, Louisville, Owensboro, Evansville, and more than a hundred river communities in between.

“To teach how to live without certainty…” by Anokarina

We will also be staging a 6-month show at the Portland Museum in Louisville’s Portland waterfront district from February to August.

The “Tank Farm” by Zach Frailey
Cincinnati’s John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge by Mobilus In Mobili
Downtown Mingo Junction, OH by John F. Novotny
Follow Ohio river / sky ablaze by Flickrized
Pittsburgh’s Point taken from the West End Park by Brook Ward
Oh Becky, what have we done? by Mike
Ohio River Greenway Project by U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
Stacks down and casting off by Mike

We hope you can meet us somewhere along the river, or at least follow us here or on social media during our journey. 

8 comments for “We’re Headed to the Ohio River

  1. December 28, 2018 at 3:24 am

    I’d love to speak with you about the effect the Ohio River has had on me. I’ve retired from a long career of international diplomacy, business and economic, traveled the world but chose to move back to my home village on the Ohio a few years ago to open a cafe. My home town is just upriver from Cincinnati called New Richmond, Ohio I’m a bit of a local Ohio River history nut and I am so proud to have learned that New Richmond was widely known as a ‘hell hole of abolitionists’ for much of the 19th century. I”M sending you a link to a short paper I wrote a few years back about how being born and raised on the banks of the Ohio is deeply embedded in my dna. http://www.robertlees.org/ohio-river-roots. My brother owns and operates a harbor on the river. More info on my hometown can be found at http://www.newrichmond.org/history. Would love to meet you or speak to you by phone. Regards, Bob

    • December 28, 2018 at 6:54 am

      Robert, that will be great. I can’t wait to talk with you. We’ll be in New Richmond at the end of July.

  2. March 8, 2019 at 8:22 pm

    Hi Wes – Hope you can stop at Holiday Point Marina this summer, MM 338.9 RDB, very near the Greenup Locks. We live on the Ohio and hope to see you go by. Or meet you! Sincerely, Rebecca Hall

  3. June 2, 2019 at 7:37 am

    Hey Wes–Mike Garrity here–I sent you a long winded message via your system—I want to do exactly what you are doing . Today is June 2, are you on the river already?? If not–when do you get here—I really want to talk to you and pick your brain and share river stories!! Just kinda jealous that ya beat me to a trip like this!! :)

    • June 2, 2019 at 7:42 am

      BTW–that photo that is included here–was taken one nice evening from the Texas deck of the rivergoing houseboat my family had, The Riverbreeze. This is a place called the Nine Mile Bar, nine miles from the mouth of the Little Miami River. It is a great place for boats to anchor up, the bottom is nice and sandy and somewhat rocky but NO SNAGS. It is on the Kentucky side and the sailing line for the tows, is over close to the Ohio or RDB. We would cook out on the deck with family, friends and people who would win raffles we put the boat up for at charity auctions for organizations like the American Cancer Society and so on. It is not about four or five miles above the old Coney Island and modern day Riverbend Music Center.

  4. June 2, 2019 at 8:02 am

    To Robert G Lees, if you are still around, I was not born on the river but the Ohio River was my first contact with being on the water, at like age two and that now goes back a long time ago. My dad got a job as a young hard working manager at one of the now long gone GM plants that once were in Dayton, Ohio. Needed a way to get away from some very hard work he did, this was in the days several decades before the internet and cell phones. He found a wooden Chris Craft cabin cruiser for sale for cheap up on Lake Erie, but that was too far to go from Dayton so he had it towed down to Cincy and we began to boat the river. I was just a little guy and there are pictures of me as a wee one, sitting on phone books, driving that boat long before I ever drove a car. This did start a life long love for boats and being on the water and lead me to do a stint in the US Coast Guard. With them in big white boats with red and blue slashes at the bow and in bold black letters, COAST GUARD on the side, I went to many places I might never have been, mostly pretty tropical places, but yet—-but yet—–I missed that sometimes muddy and mean, Ohio River. I did try and had for a short time, a billet to be assigned to a Coast Guard Aids to Navigation river tow boat barge combo that works the rivers, this one on the Tennessee out of Chattanooga. I pined for and missed the rivers even after having been in places like Key West and Miami. I am down in Florida now—but still miss the river so much. I want to do a very similar trip as what Wes is doing. I had thought of finding some sort of cruising boat like a C Dory, maybe a pontoon or even kayaking the river, but listening to a song by a group called The Tillers out of Cincinnati—a favorite musical group of mine, the song is called Shanty Boat and that got me to thinking–I do recall seeing many people on the river with them—I am going to make a shanty boat of my own, so I started doing some web searching and found Wes. So—-Robert—-this love of the river–it once it bites us and that river water and mud gets into our veins, I don’t think it ever leaves. Capt Bernstein who runs the BB Riverboats in Cincinnati says it is like that and if that is the case—then you are a true RIVER RAT! Glad to know I am not the only one. So much history in our rivers, so much in literature uses rivers as metaphors for our lives…rivers–any I encounter are like that for me, but the Ohio River—it holds a very special place in my heart, mind and soul…..and man—-the river is calling me now BIG TIME!!! I have decided as I enter my 60s this summer—-once I get back to the Cincy area–this time—it is for good and I want to be on that river as much as I can and really experience her, for good and bad in the years I hope that I have left in this world…..

    • Mr. Bela Berty
      July 17, 2019 at 1:14 pm

      You are describing what I have come to call the “Huck Finn Syndrome”–wanting to break loose from society and head down a big river. I have met some of the people (and heard about others) who rode the river in canoes and in shantyboats (Harlan and Anna Hubbard) and on a raft powered by an automobile and another raft powered by bicycles. I saw a photograph of a boat powered by one horse walking in a circle and another photograph with two horses, one on each side walking up an inclined plane. There are dozens of people today enjoying long trips on their own sternwheeler-houseboats, some home-built and some converted from towing service. Just now, I interrupted this missive to telephone a buddy who is waiting for the Mississippi to quit flooding so he can take a flatboat without power down from St. Louis to Memphis. There are adventures to be had. I encourage you to live your dream before you get too old.

  5. a friend of dogtown
    July 9, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    The floodplains south of Evansville (Union Township/Dogtown) have a rich but almost entirely forgotten past and deserve to be preserved :)

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