City working to improve Ohio River access

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 29, 2008

Earlier this month, city workers were busy putting “dead men” along the Ohio River bank.

While that may sound rather ominous, “dead men” are actually massive concrete blocks and heavy chains that will help riverboats dock in Ironton.

With donations from local businesses, riverboats like the Belle of Cincinnati can tie up to the shore and its passengers can debark to check out the stores and restaurants in the city.

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“In order to tie the boats off, we need something substantial,” said Bill Dickens, Ironton’s economic development director.

The six concrete blocks weigh about 3,300 pounds and were supplied by John Galloway at Pickett Concrete and the heavy chain was donated by Bruce McGinnis of McGinnis, Inc. Hunley Bobcat Services, which was putting in large rocks to shore up the bank, had a crew bury the blocks.

Dickens said the boat’s owner suggested the size of the blocks and the chain. The city was careful since a couple of years ago when the Delta Queen visited Ironton; there was an unfortunate accident.

“The city didn’t have anything embedded in the bank to tie off to,” Dickens said, adding the city got a road grater and a front loader and parked them for the boat to tie off to. Instead, the boat drifted and pulled both pieces of equipment into the river. “So we decided we should do better next time, so nothing like that happened.”

Dickens said that as the city develops its River Front Park, the city would like to build a more permanent mooring for the big boats but that is probably a few years out since the administration is looking for grants and other funding sources from state and federal agencies to develop it.

“It will be built in phases and we envision a very nice River Front Park and we would like to put in a restaurant on the site,” Dickens said.

The Belle of Cincinnati will be stopping in Ironton as part of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization’s Southern Summer Night/Rolling on the River cruise on July 18.