Friday, July 7, 2017

Bow Steering Towboat and Other Interesting (e.g. largest) Tow(boat)s

The long, loosely-tied "mule training" tows that they used to use to go through ice are in Winter Towboating.

Sprague ("Big Mama") was the worlds largest sternwheeler.

Stuart Pearson posted
This image of the M/V Sally Polk of the Canal Barge Company was taken from the Top of a Grain Elevator in Morris, IL. The small Boat is a Bow Steering Unit especially useful in negotiating Tight Turns, and when the Towboat was headed Southbound with Empties.
Dennis DeBruler I've never seen a Bow Steering Unit before. Thanks for the info. It looks like a full 15-barge tow so, when they get to a lock, does it untie and lock through next to the rear towboat?
Stuart Pearson Dennis DeBruler~~You are CORRECT as to the Locking procedure.

Stuart Pearson posted
M/V Sally Polk of Canal Barge Co. headed Up River in the Morris, IL. area. I captured this image from atop of a Grain Elevator. The small Boat at the head of the Tow was mainly used in Southbound Tows with 15 Empty Barges to aid in Windy Conditions.

Jan Danielsen posted three photos with the comment: "Tom Behringer SB Pool 14 Clinton, Iowa."
[This is the first example of a towboat on the bow that I have seen on the Mississippi River. The suspension bridge is the Gateway Bridge, and the swing bridge is the UP/C&NW Bridge.]



There are four truck-to-barge transloading facilities near the bend on the river in Morris, IL. Judging from the angle of the photo, I'm guessing this was taken from the concrete silos of the ADM facility.

Ted Knutsen posted
The mighty Chuck inbound Corpus!
Mel Hartsough: It's a bow thruster, trying to save money from using a tug. 
[Some comments indicate that some steering units don't have propulsion, that they have just a rudder.
They are used on long tows between New Orleans and Corpus Christi because of winds.]

A second in two days.
Joe Butcher posted
Steermasters made it allot easier on the ICW in heavy winds. Just a set of rudders forward, no thrusters.
John Cooke: Never tried it..... taken 900' of tow through the ICWW many times without.
[From comments on Ted Knutsen's post, the ICWW would be Intercoastal Waterway, West. They talk about the stretch between Houston and Corpus Christi being particularly windy.]

David Gulden posted
Good ole days their making a comeback.
Kerry R. Wills: They called them “bow thrusters” There is a wheel placed sideways underneath. They used them on the head of a tow to steer it to port or starboard without giving up stern room on their vessel.
David Gulden: Kerry R. Wills yep we called em bow boats back then.
David Gulden: Bow boat mostly used to keep empty barges up in strong winds ran on remote control from wheelhouse
Dennis Penton: Bow thruster! They where used a lot back in the 70&80ths! Don’t see them much these days! Old school!
David commented on his post

20150603 1960
When I was on Ruby Street Bridge, I noticed there was an upbound tow coming, so I got in the car and hustled down to the Jackson Street Bridge. But by the time I got there, the bridge was already up so I concentrated on the tow. I'm glad I did because it was big tow for this part of the river, and it included a pushboat on the bow ---  Mike Planche.  Since most pushboats with a retractable pilothouse are for local movements, that is one of the biggest pushboats that I have seen with a retractable pilothouse.

With 18mm, I was able to get a shot of the whole 11-barge tow:

Evidently when steering help is not needed between locks, it stays on the side.
Mike Spitzmiller posted two photos with the comment: "Something I have not seen before ..... Looks like a side towboat  ??"
Larry Haley: Bow thruster
Joseph Sledd: taking it somewhere safest place to put it in tow a ingram boat sunk one about that size last year below henderson ky just had it tied to the side of thier tow. [They recovered the sunk boat, but didn't bother to fix it.]


It appears that if a sternwheeler is steering it needs to be crosswise so that the paddle can move the bow from side to side.
Brian Marsh posted
The steamer "Lydia Van Sant", with a log raft, going through swing bridge, circa 1908. Location unknown. (MNHS)
Chris Graves: There was a swinging railroad bridge in Winona that looked like this one. This looks like the photo was taken from the high wagon bridge that was just west of the swinging bridge.
[Other comments agree with Winona. But some are arguing for Hudson, WI.]

Tom Lyman shared
Jeff Hosford: Looks like she worked for the Taber Lumber company, on the Mississippi River, 1898 - 1911.
Kent Inman commented on Brian's post

I'm going to generalize these notes to interesting tows and towboats.
See also H-tows
Zachary Bryant Moore posted
Mrs. Kay D. Now the Jeffery Stover. North bound with the largest tow ever pushed on the inland river system.
Vaughn McDaniel: Correct spelling is Miss Kae-D
[72 barges. Comments indicate the towboat is now Mark Knoy.]
Larry Mcintosh: I'm a long time towboater and when that bitch came in the Fleet I was working in ....I told all my hands ...this is gonna be a all night deal.
Chadwick Carbo: I remember when she did it Heard the CG fined her for being a hazard to navigation don’t know if that was true or not.
Clark Sigman: That’s a lot of acreage right there.
Evan Houghton: Clark Sigman like 11.5 acres.
Evan Houghton: Clark Sigman it would take around 25,000 acres of corn to fill...or around 4.3 million bushels.
[I assume that 11.5 acres is the surface area of the tow, and I find that to be the more impressive number.]
Don McCallie: I was Traffic Manager at Flowers’s Transportation when we built that tow. 1981. Ronnie Prater was Captain.

Todd Stokes commented on Zachary's post
2nd largest tow now.
“Robert A. Kyle” not sure of the name now but Ingram has it now.
Keith Haley Sr.: Todd Stokes It’s the OH now.
Vaughn McDaniel: Todd Stokes Much of this tow went from Triangle Reserve and dropped at Capitol Baton Rouge. In my opinion shouldn't count.
[10x8+3 = 83. Another comment specified 9 loads, 73 empties and one dead boat (M/V Dave Carlton).]

Leo Powers commented on Zachary's post [higher resolution]
I thought that record belongs to the Robert Kyle!
Marty Hettel posted
We always remember the largest tow departing Baton Rouge being the Miss Kay D with 72 barges. Here is a picture of the M/V Robert Kyle with the M/V Dave Carlton in tow with 82 barges departing Triangle Fleet.
Cody N Brittany Harper: That's a lot of scissors and short tears, scissor breast or whatever they did back then. THAT'S AWESOME
Marty Hettel: If my memory serves me correctly there was about 400 total sets of rigging on the tow.
Cynthia Schutt: Keven Routon. Look! It's your Dad? John Niswonger Sue Routon
John Niswonger: Cynthia Schutt It is Cyndi! I remember Doyle telling about it. They moved a whole fleet. A Coast Guard representative rode up the river with them to observe.
Tammy Carpenter: My dad was terminal manager at Triangle Refineries, Birmingport Alabama. He told a lot of stories of the boats and crew that brought 2 tanker barges to the port. Can't imagine 82. 2 filled up our little river.
Pete Thomasson: I worked on many 70 plus barge tows back in the 80’s.
Keith Roach Hayman: Total foolishness !! A big disastrous crash would serve them right !!
Jerry Holder: Keith Roach Hayman they didn't crash capt. Terry [Holder] made it look easy.
David N. Smith: He was moving from fleet to fleet. He did not head North with that tow.

Michael Tregre posted
David Turner: Wow, if my math is correct, the surface area of that oversized tow, assuming the barges are the standard 195'X35' hoppers, is 552,825'. That is HUGE because it equals 12.6911157 acres!! 20 standard hoppers is more than enough to wear you and half a dozen other hand out...
Steven Flancher commented on Michael's post

David Gulden posted
One of the best pics besides the Miss Kaye D. And her tow the AUSTIN S CARGILL flanking WILKERSON POINT
[Some comments indicate this is just above upper Baton Rouge bridge.]

Michael Tregre commented on David's post
Miss Kaye D
[Note that it was a triple screw. I'm learning that is rather common on the lower Mississippi.
Since this tow has 72 barges, it must be the record long-haul tow.]

And from DeBruler, we have:
Mike Davis posted
Found this post card today. Says: "The towboat Miss Kae-D using all of her 10,500 horsepower set an inland waterway record May 2, 1981, when she departed Baton Rouge, La., pushing 72 jumbo barges bound for Hickman, Ky. The record tow was 9 barges wide,8 barges long and covered 12.72 acres. Total loading capacity 113,400 net tons." Holy Cow !
Cris Muirhead: The Miss Kae D is now the Russell G Stover. She's been re-powered and is now 11,100 horsepower.
Jack Tanner Towing shared

Todd Stokes posted
Robert A. Kyle (O.H. Ingram) record tow. Not sure of the year but I know it’s after the Kae-D tow and a few barges bigger.
[According to some comments, M/V Dave Carlton was pushing 82 barges (73 empty and 9 loaded) and a boat.
There are a lot of comments arguing about which is a record holder. Some feel that Kay-D is still the record holder because it was a true linehaul tow from St. Rose, LA, to Hickman, KY, where as the Carlton was just a local move from Reserve, LA, to Baton Rouge to get equipment away from a hurricane.
The photo of the Carlton tow was taken at Gramercy, LA where they added more barges to the tow.]
Brian O'Daniels: I am not sure this is true, but I was told the Captain announced on the VHF: "Departing Triangle Fleet with the Fleet."
Robert Gardner: Question is how far did they move that Tow? Record tow is 72 barges on Flowers Transportation M/V Miss Kay D from about 27 miles upstream from New Orleans to Kentucky. Two loads and seventy empties. Originations under my leadership put that together. I piloted it for 30 minutes just below Memphis with an any gross tons license but did not want to take credit of that historic event from any of my employees that put it together.
Don McCallie: Yes it still stands and proud of it. Boat full name was Miss Kae D.

From the two largest to one of the smallest.
Tami Hubbard Grant posted
What kind of vessel is this passing Riverbend?
Mary Lowrey Barton: Seen them helping guide those LONG pipe in tow and keeping together!
Clint Cartwright: Dredge helper boat.
Martha Pitts Yawn: Richard said it is a "grasshopper" - used to make up barge tows. I'm sure there's another name for it.
Jim Comer: Ran one just like it when building the I-65 bridge at Decatur, lot's of fun moving the cranes and derricks and concrete trucks around.
Ron Lewis: Shift boat made to move barges around at the dock.
Dean White: Dredge tender...
Shannon D Gurganus: Bridge tender or dredge tender boat! Seen that exact same type building bridges all up and down the rivers!
Tyler Bullock: It's a little push boat it was pushing around at crane barge on a contract with the core of engineers the crane barge is unloading rock off a barge my company is pushing from Tuscaloosa to moundsville Al to the Indian reservation where they are trying to keep the bank from washing out but the boat was sold yesterday and it is headed back to mobile.

Jim Colby shared
This little feller was recently spotted on the Black Warrior River below Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It got me wondering about "teeny" Towboats. I just saw a post here with a teeny red towboat. So what are some other "teeny" Towboats on this site, and is there a more proper name than "teeny" for them?
Austin Forbess: Truckable is the proper term. [Some comments on the post also said truckable. But the first comment had a smiley face.]
David Webster: No License required less than 26ft long.
Jay Allan: Probably a dredge tender, for moving pipeline.
Sam Evans Strickland: I ran one once for a construction company. They are truckable and are used on inland lakes. We built water intake systems for towns.
Bela K. Berty: On the Ohio River, some call them "Lunch Bucket operations."
[The were a lot of comments about it being top heavy and some replies like: "You’d be surprised! The hulls are thicker than topside sheathing, plus the weight of the engines, fuel and running gear make for a very low center of gravity."
Below is a small sampling of comments that provided photos.]

Jason T. Roberts commented on Jim's share

Jack Brown commented on Jim's share
Coming to the Rescue.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Jim's share
This was docked at a marina during the Summer when the marina has no boats in storage.
Note that the pilothouse is on a scissors jack so that it is retractable. All the towboats in the Chicagoland area are retractable because the bridges on the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal no longer move. I noticed that, as small as it is, it has twin screws.
July 5, 2015
License: Creative Commons Attribution: Dennis DeBruler (CC BY)
, that's pretty interesting. The towboats that I've seen on the Black Warrior River with retractable pilot houses use hydraulic pistons. Thank you for sharing this with us .😀 👍

Dennis DeBruler commented on Jim Colby's comment
All of the other ones that I have seen do use hydraulic rams. Here is one on the Des Plaines River in Joliet, IL. It was pushing three barges.

A topic that is on my mind is why do they run with just 15-barge tows. Why not put a barge on either side of the towboat and run with 17 barges? Here is a case where they are filling those "holes" on the hips. A crane barge on the port side and a towboat on the starboard side.
Screenshot @ 0:19

Jan Danielsen posted four photos with the comment: "Today was the first day to be able to walk on the new I-74 bridge Bettendorf, Iowa to Moline, Illinois. Halfway across there is a look out. The walk/bike path is on Illinois bound side. I was thankful that Joyce Hale was coming up river while I was there tonight. Thanks for being my first towboat and barges in this new experience. 4-17-22."
Adam DeSimone: I hate hip barges.
Dave Harrington: Why are they a pain?
Adam DeSimone: Dave Harrington offsets your face up, (steers crooked)
Pain in the locks, makes inside the boat louder, you have a larger sail area, wind affects you more if you have all empty barges. Beats around sometimes




Comments on Jan's post

1 of 11 photos posted by Aaron Seefeld
ACBL's Paul Brotzge northbound through Hastings with a hip barge on Thursday.
[The bridge is the (CP+Amtrak)/Milw Bridge.]

One reason to leave the port hip position open is to leave room for refueling barges.
Bard Lucky Rivero posted, cropped
Paul G Blazer this fine Louisiana morning

Sam Schropp posted three photos with the comment:
Once upon a time a friend of mine was telling me that his buddy had bought a barn from the state of Illinois which had to be moved from its location on the Wildlife Refuge near the Brussels Ferry Landing on the Illinois River, to Martin Landing on the UMR. I suggested using a towboat and barge and calling Merle and Teddy Inman at West Point Landing to do the job.
 Merle and Teddy had met when Teddy was flying an airplane cross country by herself. She flew over Calhoun County and thought it was so pretty she wanted to land and take a look around. She met Merle and a life well lived followed.
The tug in the photo is the West Point, built by Merle and Teddy from the ground up on their property below Lock 25. I have some more pictures around somewhere that I will post when I find them.



A new meaning for the term houseboat.
Ryan Red posted
A Victorian home being moved by boat in Tiburon, California, in 1957. 
Clinton Tower shared

Mike Spitzmiller posted
Follow the Leader on the Ohio...

Steven Bruni posted
Cover Date: 7/25/18
Credit To: Joseph Ted Davisson
Jim Ball: Some very serious dollars right there.

Mike Spitzmiller posted two photos with no comment.
[Judging from the prop washes, the starboard towboat is along for the ride.]


One of six photos posted by Jeff Wilkes
M/V St. Paul & the Marquette shoving 12 loads up bound at the Savannah Hwy Bridge !! What ever it takes to get it done !!
[They must have important loads to use that much horsepower for just 12 barges. The Mississippi must have a strong current here when the river is running high. The trees in the background does show the river is above normal. But hydrographs show Fulton below 11 with Action at 15 and Bellevue below 12 with Action at 16. [ncrfc] That doesn't sound very high.]

One of four photos posted by Robert Menard
M/V Bruce L Hahn
M/V C. Michael Reeves
M/V Loree Eckstein
M 115 UMR

I gather that tandem towboats on the Lower Mississippi is common when going northbound. A comment indicates they don't do tandem towboats going southbound. This is a view from one of the two towboats approaching the I-55 Bridge at Memphis, TN.
Russell Pottharst posted, cropped

Billy Walker commented on Russell's post

Jim Taylor posted
Ain't every day you see a paddlewheeler fixin to tow a string of seaplanes. Looks like they butted up a little deck barge crossways on the stern to have a towing point clear of the paddle wheel.
Bob Ipcar: I found a file that seems to tie this picture to the 1927 flood at Baton Rouge. Posting your post to Paddlewheelers & Steamboats of the World, someone mentioned Red Cross flood relief which included sea planes.

Shawn Somers commented on Jim's post
I was hired once to tow a Cessna 195 float plane home on the Ohio River from Madison, IN to Rising Sun, IN. Locking through was the scariest part. It was hard keeping the wingtips off the lock wall but we did it. Not a scratch!

David Gulden posted
GENE C. HUTCHINSON with a lil extra tow
Dennis O'Leary
1945) 1957 Joseph S. Young 1 1986
Steel self-unloading Great Lakes bulk freighter
Built at Mobile AL by Alabama Dry Dock & Ship Building Co., Hull 346
Launched June 30, 1945
Built as Archer’s Hope for U. S. Maritime Commission during World War II as Class T2-SE-A1 tanker. Originally enrolled at 504.0 x 68.2 x 39.2, 10172 GT, 6134 NT. Operated by Cities Service Oil Co. and purchased by their subsidiary Ships Inc. in 1948.
Sold 1956 to owners below. Renamed Joseph S. Young (1) 1957.
Converted to bulk freighter at Baltimore MD by Maryland Dry Dock Co. with new forebody. Towed into the Great Lakes via the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers to Manitowoc WI, where her self-unloading equipment was installed by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co.
588’10” LOA, 572’ LBP, 68’ beam, 39’3” depth
1 deck, arch cargo hold construction, hatches @ 24’, oil-fired boilers, steam turbine engine, 6000 SHP
Enrolled at
572.0 x 68.2 x 39.2, 12489 GT, 8820 NT US 248326 to:
American Steamship Co., Buffalo NY, Boland & Cornelius, Mgr. (home port Buffalo NY)
Entered Great Lakes service June 28, 1957
Lengthened 1966 at South Chicago IL by American Ship Building Co.
Remeasured to 656.0 length and 14452 GT, 10783 NT
Renamed H. Lee White (1) 1969
Renamed Sharon 1974
Grounded May 5, 1980 in Trenton Channel, Detroit River. Released May 7 and sailed to Monroe MI, where she was laid up and did not operate again. Towed to Toledo OH spring 1986.
Sold for scrap 1986 to Corostel Trading. Cleared Quebec QC July 16, 1986 with str. Detroit Edison under tow to Brownsville TX.
IMO 5175965

Shane Dixon posted
Towboat Gene C. Hutchinson transporting the hull of the Joseph S. Young.
Both were beautiful boats
[At least this captain can see straight ahead.]
William Lafferty: I posted this photograph on the Toronto Marine Historical Society Facebook page a few years ago. Here's what I said then: The 3200-bhp towboat Gene C. Hutchinson, built 1952 by the St. Louis Shipbuilding & Steel Company for the Hutchinson Barge Line, Inc., of Chicago, pushes the Joseph S. Young beneath the MacArthur Bridge at St. Louis on 7 January 1957, along with the towboat’s usual complement of oil barges it towed between New Orleans and Chicago. The tow had to wait at the Alton, Illinois, lock until 28 January 1957 to lock through because of low water at the Alton pool. The Young arrived at Lockport on 14 February 1957 where the Hutchinson relinquished the tow to the Great Lakes Towing Company tugs Montana and Wyoming for the twelve hour journey from there through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, South Branch of the Chicago River, and the Chicago River to Lake Michigan. The towboat was christened at St. Louis on 1 April 1952 by Mrs. Gene Hutchinson of Cleveland, wife of the CEO of te Hutchinson Barge Line as well as vice-president and treasurer of the Pioneer Steamship Company and partner in Hutchinson & Company, for whom the first Charles L. Hutchinson (later the second Parkdale) was renamed in July 1951.
Barry StoneDavid Gulden posted
Comments on Shane's post

Two of thirteen photos posted by Joseph Ted Davisson with the comment: "Something you don’t see on the river everyday. The M/V Paul Klausen, north bound with 43 empties AND a load of foreign Wind Mills !"
W.D. Purcell: Those are empty flat deck barges. Except for the ones the windmill blades are on.
Stuart RiverRat Boothe: Blades probably coming to the Illinois 121 MM , they just built a big laydown yard for a wind farm


So all of the empty flat deck barges was for visibility around the blades? An alternative is to build a pilothouse on top of the normal pilothouse.
Stuart RiverRat Boothe posted three photos with the comment "Big Eddie comin into Havana Harbor with the first load of wind tower blades!"



One of five photos posted by Jack Tanner Tower
Jack Tanner Towing: That boat is designed that way, the upper pilot house is retractable... pretty common down south.
[They are unloading at the coal docks just north of the marina in Havana.
There are quite a few comments about issues with wind turbines.]

Speaking of tall loads.
Adictos a los Remolcadores posted
David Gulden shared

Adictos a los Remolcadores posted
David Gulden shared

Donovan Michael Stephany commented on David's share
They were unloaded from a ship at the old Avondale shipyard.
[I presume that was here.]

David Gulden posted
That my friends is what you call a. HIGH LOW coupling i imagine a few 65s shackled together
David Smith: Downbound at Cape Girardeau, MO. Photo from the old Cape bridge by Mike Rushing, I believe. Towboat is the LARRY TURNER.
Zachary Bryant Moore: I’m from cape Girardeau. That’s before the flood wall was even built. Looks completely different now.
Andrew Helms: This is one of those "now I've seen it all" tows...
[Do they put a spotter on the bow of the ship? The wheelhouse man sure can't see much. But that was before portable radios. Or do the captains have the river memorized so well that they don't need to see forward because they know what is coming?]

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