Friday, August 24, 2012

The Night the Barge Container Broke Free

Last December Amanda and I went fishing at a local warm water discharge on the Ohio River and we ended up catching a few channel cats and making a late night 911 call. We got set up around 11pm and fished til 4am. Around 2am I was getting cold and bored, so I decided to tie on a float and drift some shad over a shallow point. I reeled in one pole and started casting my float. A few drifts later I noticed some loud bangs coming from the barge containers that are typically tied down at the Dayton Power and Light Power Plant. I didn't think much of it, and I continued to cast. Moments later I got a bite on my float and I waited patiently for the fish to take off, but nothing. As my float stayed under the surface, light stick and all, I began to concentrate on the line at my reel for any signs of movement. I look up to find that all of the lights on the other side of the river had went off, or so I had thought. I turn my head lamp on and notice a wall of steel coming right at me, so I quickly yell to Amanda to get up. We both watch as the barge container drifts ashore and clips all of our lines, and drifts down stream slowly. I looked over to Amanda and asked her what I should do, who I should call. After a few seconds of debate I decided to call 911 and let them tell me what I should do. So for the first time in my life I dialed 911. I talked to the operator and told her what I thought had happened, "I believe a barge container has broke free and is now drifting unmanned down the Ohio River", or something like that. She assured me that she would have people working on it shortly. The first thing that occurred to me was that someone could be anchored catfishing downstream, and be caught totally by surprise, or worse the barge container makes it 3 miles down river to the Maysville bridge and collides with it.

A few moments later 3 small barges appear, at quite surprising speeds, and catch up to the container. An hour or so later, they had the container secured and were pulling it upstream. As far as I know no one was injured. Now all that is left of that night is a partially collapsed culvert that has been stuck at the mouth of the warm water discharge for several years. That night the water was a foot high, and in this picture the water was a foot low.....which typically covers all but part of the culvert.

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