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Week #8, 23-29.October, 2005

Cincinnati, OH to Louisville, KY: Ohio River Mile 471 to Mile 603


A cold spell settled on the mid-west this week and we had a very chilly and rainy trip from Cincinnati to our next stop about thirty-five miles downriver at Rising Sun, Indiana. Upon arrival, we took a short walk around the well-groomed town of Rising Sun and searched for a Laundromat to dry our wet clothes.   Out of sheer freezing desperation, we also steered our way over to the Grand Victoria casino with the intention of warming ourselves up inside a building.   Indiana allows gambling on the water, so we have passed several riverboat casinos.   The WaterWorks funds are also getting a little low, and the flashing lights and dazzling displays had us conjuring up grand visions of winning it big in order to pay for the rest of the trip.   As it turned out, that night we lost $10 on the slots--don't worry, the loss was felt in our personal savings, not the organization's funds.   We did get to experience another aspect of river culture, though, and when we returned the next day, we made up the ten and added $7.99 to the WaterWorks kiddy.

We battled the cold and the rain again the next morning when we headed out bright and early to the Ohio County Elementary School to meet with three fourth grade classrooms.   Afterwards, as we made our way down river, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the current had picked up, probably due to the recent rains, and we were able to make good time under bike power alone.   With the 1 to 1½ mph push of the current, we could easily reach 3mph, and so we were able to pedal for much of the next day.   It was a rare treat to note the buoys slightly bucking the force of the current as the water eddied around their stationary position.   The one downside to the recent rain was that a lot of debris, mainly broken trees branches, had been brought into the river, and our progress was a bit slowed as we zigzagged to avoid hitting the flotsam and jetsam.

Our next port of call was Louisville, Kentucky and we arrived Thursday evening.   One of the more exciting opportunities along the river in Louisville is the chance to get a glimpse of the Belle of Louisville underway, like she is in this photo to the right.   Not only is she a beautiful vessel, but according to her website she is "now recognized as the oldest river steamboat still in operation. She was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1989, and celebrated her 90th birthday in 2004 ."   The Belle has spent most of her life as a passenger ferry but also carried cotton, grain, and lumber as she traveled most of the larger river systems in America.

We were scheduled for a special day at the Louisville Science Center and had planned to take the boat out of the water in order to share it with the public, so on Friday we got to work.   Aimee drove the car and trailer down from Cincinnati while Morgan brought the boat over to a launch ramp.   We had quite a time getting the boat out of the water because the current that we had been so grateful for the last few days made it very difficult to direct the boat onto the center of the trailer. Finally, with a far bit of muscling and shoving, we were able to get the boat properly fixed on the trailer and haul her out.

Our first engagement Saturday morning at the Science Center was a program with accelerated seventh graders from the Louisville area.   They voluntarily come to the Science Center every other weekend to expand their horizons, and the directors thought the students would be interested in what we were doing.   About forty students stopped by the boat so that we could show them the design.   Here, Morgan explains how the paddle wheel system works while Aimee demonstrates by pedaling the bike.   Afterwards, we met up with the students inside the building and explained our journey. They had many great questions for us!

The Science Center had arranged for River WaterWorks to have a table inside the museum so that we could share our journey with the day's visitors.   Our boat stayed in the parking lot outside, so everyone would get a chance to see the uniqueness of the Libelula . Here, Aimee mans the table ready to pass out River WaterWorks stickers and information cards.   We had even set up a short slide show on the laptop computer so that people could get a sense of what the journey had been like thus far.

In addition to the table, we also had the opportunity to do a few short programs in the "Chemistry Kitchen" of the Science Center for any interested visitors.   Each one was a little bit different, but in all of them we talk about out journey and some aspect of water.   During one session we taught the watershed concept and in the photo to the right, Morgan explains how the watershed 'funnels' should be set-up.   We enjoyed the chance to present our program somewhere new with a different sort of audience.

We also had two special visitors for the weekend while in Louisville.   Aimee's dad flew in from California to join us in the city and treated us to many delicious meals and a warm, dry place to sleep.   One of Aimee' good friends from college, John West, also drove down from Chicago for a day.   They were both a great help in getting us set up for the big day at the Science Center and telling people about the boat while we were inside doing presentations.   They also got sent on a variety of errands, including a run to find Aimee a more comfortable bike seat.   In this photo, John is working on removing the old seat so the new one can be installed.

Louisville is home to a famous spot along the river--the Falls of the Ohio.    We were excited to see this natural wonder and headed over as soon as our day at the Science Center was over.   A lock and dam also lie near the Falls, just downriver of Louisville.   In order to protect the Falls, the dam was built in a funny zigzag pattern that keeps the upriver project pool from covering up the Falls, which are gradual, declining steps in the rocks.   The falls are particularly noteworthy for the fossil beds that make up the sediment in the area.   It is easy to see the fossils in the rock layers, some of which were formed over 387 million year ago, when the area hosted a tropical reef community.

A large statue of the well-known explorers Lewis and Clark greets visitors at the entrance to the museum of the Falls of the Ohio.   The plaque at the base of the statue reads: "When they shook hands, the Lewis and Clark Expedition began."   The quote, taken from the book Undaunted Courage , which Stephen E. Ambrose wrote about their journey, inspired us to take a picture of the less well-known, but equally significant, Simmons and Rowe meeting in the fall of 2005.   Unlike our voyage, Lewis met up with Clark in Louisville and from there they left together from the falls on October 26, 1803, not to return until November of 1806.   Even though we aren't expecting our journey to take anywhere near three years, we couldn't help feeling a kinship with the famous explorers as we follow in their footsteps.


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River Water Works    *   Boswell, PA 15531 * phone: 814.267.0167

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