As many of the pioneers did back in the day, the crew shoved off from Pittsburgh and have begun their descent down river. They made 6 stops while cruising 356 miles this week. They returned to Chester on Monday to get some electricity and the air conditioning that comes with it due to the unseasonable high temperatures. On Tuesday, they stopped in Moundsville to explore the Indian Burial Mound. Wednesday, the crew stopped in Parkersburg to explore more about Blennerhassett Island. Thursday the crew landed back at Point Pleasant to learn more about Mothman. Friday, the crew landed in Ironton to discover more about the local and regional steel industries. Saturday, the crew returned to Portsmouth to rest up a bit before pushing further down river.
To see more detail of each days travel, click on the link: Still Waters II Travel Map and view the Captain’s Log, pictures along the days route, and a short narrative of the day’s observations. The Travel Map also has a feature where you can follow the daily voyage updates. From the Travel Map site, just click on the menu, then click follow, and add your first name and email to the pop up box. You will receive an email each day the crew travels and updates the map.
The crew experienced warmer than should be temperatures today with the high in the low 90’s. The free dock at Moundville has no electricity, so the crew found the local DQ Grill and Chill to go cool off. Oh, and consume Blizzard’s of course. Lucky for the crew the Indian Mound just happens to be next to DQ, which minimized walking in the heat.
The first European American to see the Mound is thought to be Joseph Tomlinson in 1770 when he accidently stumbled across the Mound while hunting. Merriwether Lewis stopped to look at the Mound in 1803 on his way to meet William Clark in Louisville, before continuing their expedition to the unexplored west coast.
In March of 1838, a nephew of Joseph Tomlinson began excavation of the Mound. The team dug several shafts into the mound and found two burial chambers containing three burials. They also found beads, seashells, and copper bracelets. Most items are now housed in the Museum next to the Mound.
But the most interesting and controversial find was the Grave Creek Stone. The stone was discovered in 1838 and passed through several private collections before it became lost to history. However, four casts were made of the stone and somehow survived and are in the custody of the Smithsonian. Some folks think the stone was a hoax to drive attention about the mound. Some mysteries will never be solved.
Another nearby relic was the West Virginia Penitentiary. The Pen has been abandoned as a jail, but is now used to train officers in prison riots. Interesting since the prison was the site of some of the worst prison riots in the US back in 1973 and 1986.
When the sun began to set, the crew left the cool confines of the DQ Grill and Chill and headed back to the boat.
The crew headed down river and made a new stop in Parkersburg. The crew walked around the waterfront park but did not find much interesting history, other than the Blennerhassett Museum in town has more original artifacts from the original home than the rebuilt home and State Park over at the island.
But the crew found these marks on the 21 foot flood wall that was built in 1950 for the price of $6 Million. These are the three worst floods in the towns history. The top of the wall is designed to be three feet higher than the 1913 flood crest of 58.6 feet. Parkersburg has also just announced a Flood Wall Mural Project. They plan to use a local artist, Chistopher Santer, to paint the wall. The first approved mural will be the first few notes and words from “Country Roads” by John Denver.
After walking around and exploring the waterfront, the crew returned to Still Waters II for the night to prepare for the next days journey.
I have neglected to mention that the Admiral has been working on her boating skills more this season. One humorous episode occurred the other day when the crew changed positions entering a lock. The Admiral took the helm and the skipper would handle the lines and get the boat secured to the floating bollard. The Admiral was doing a good job of positioning the vessel close to the bollard when the thought went through her mind, ‘What do I do if I don’t get close enough to the bollard?
So, with the vessel only about ten feet from the target she asked the skipper, “What do I do if YOU miss the bollard?”
With righteous indignation the skipper responded, “What do you mean if I miss the bollard, I’m NOT going to miss the bollard!”
Then the Admiral started laughing uncontrollably, while he successfully tossed the line over the bollard and secured the boat. Then asked, “What is so funny?”
The Admiral went on to explain that she did not mean if HE failed to execute his part of the job by catching the bollard, but was asking what she should do if she did not get the boat close enough to the wall for him to be successful. But that she found it very funny that he was a bit miffed that she questioned his abilities to lasso the bollard. Ah communication is so complicated.
As the story goes, people in and around Point Pleasant started seeing a strange creature in November of 1966. First to report a sighting of a large bird like creature were five men digging a grave. Three days later, two couples out on a night time drive encountered the creature. They claim they drove back to town at 100 mph and the creature had no trouble keeping up with them. The next day a lady went to visit a friend and the creature appeared and followed her onto the porch of her friend’s house. The creature peered through the window with burning fire red eyes. Over the next year more than 100 sightings were reported.
The stories and encounters have all been captured and preserved at the only Mothman Museum in the world. One of the interesting theories behind the Mothman is a curse from Chief Cornstalk that dates back to 1777. The Chief had been detained by fearful pioneers thinking the British would use the Indians to attack colonists during the Revolutionary War. Some of his tribe came to check on him and ambushed and killed two men from the fort. Outraged and seeking revenge, soldiers went back to the fort and murdered Chief Cornstalk. The Chief is said to have muttered these words as he died:
“I was the border man’s friend. Many times I have saved him and his people from harm. I never warred with you, but only to protect our wigwams and lands. I refused to join your paleface enemies with the red coats. I came to the fort as your friend and you murdered me. You have murdered by my side, my young son…..For this, may the curse of the Great Spirit rest upon this land. May it be blighted by nature. May it even be blighted in its hopes. May the strength of its peoples be paralyzed by the stain of our blood.“
In other strange events in the area, monuments were erected in honor of the colonists who fought in the Ohio River Valley. The original and replacement monuments were both destroyed by lightening strikes. So much for the theory that lightening never strikes the same spot twice.
In December of 1967, the Mothman was reported atop the Silver Bridge just outside of town. The bridge collapsed later that same day during rush hour traffic killing 46 people. Strangely enough, the Mothman has never been seen in Point Pleasant since the bridge collapse.
Since you will probably never go visit the Mothman Museum, you might want to check out the Mothman Documentary.
The crew also stopped in Ironton. Their claim to fame is the longest continuous running Memorial Day Parade. The first parade was marched in 1868.
The skipper was fascinated by the design of the new Ironton Bridge that carries traffic from Ironton, Ohio to Russell, Kentucky. But was amazed how pretty the bridge was when lit at night.
The crew walked around town and found an interesting fountain, a replica Statue of Liberty, and a good looking Courthouse. With a name like Ironton, you can imagine that the town rises and falls with the steel industry. Talking with locals, a steel mill closed two years ago which resulted in 2,000 lost jobs. Then the RR that used to haul the steel closed down resulting in another 1,500 lost jobs. To say the area has fallen on hard times is an understatement, but the crew found the folks up beat, positive, and with good attitudes.
The skipper’s son has bought a boat and looking for a boat name.
The Admiral refers to the son as “Son of Fun”. He is thinking of naming his boat either Son of Fun or Sun of Fun as a play on words.
The crew will continue down river and stop in Cincinnati for a few days, then try to make Louisville for the weekend.