Having cruised rivers in Europe and Egypt always wanted to experience the nostalgia of the American steamboat era. But have no interest in southern plantation houses, even Mt. Vernon, Monticello, and the Hermitage gave me the creeps. Recently read best seller non-fiction "The Pioneers" about the settlement of the upper Ohio by Revolutionary War veterans, and mindful that our own sunken Arabia was built in Pittsburgh, decided to cruise from Pittsburgh down to Louisville on the American Duchess.
Vessel holds less than 200 passengers and lots of Covid restrictions in place. Probably more than 3/4 of passenger over age 60, so this is not a raucous party boat. Service was first class, great food, attentive staff. Mark Twain and Stephen Foster could have never imagined a river boat this luxurious.
Thought that seeing 3 big river cities(one larger than KC, one about the same size, and one smaller) would give me some insight into how cities interact with river. But comparing lower Missouri to upper and middle Ohio is like apples and oranges. Both very different by nature and by what Army Corp of Engineers has done for navigation.
Our Missouri meanders back and forth across a wide flood plain bounded by low hills and bluffs. The Ohio does not have much in the way of flood plains until things open up above Louisville. It is generally bounded in a narrow valley with high hills coming down to the river. Any level flood plain is very narrow and usually occurs where a tributary enters. There are numerous islands, some populated.
We all know how the Missouri has been transformed from wide slow and shallow into a high speed sewer that is hostile to any recreational activity.
The Ohio instead has 20 locks and dams. Behind the dams the current slows considerably. Ever city and town has a marina floating out into the river. There are innumerable homes lining the river banks with their own docks. There are very few towns with levees or dikes. For water recreation people do not have to drive hours to some reservoir. On a Sunday the waters around Pittsburgh Golden Triangle looked like Lake of the Ozarks on the 4th of July.
The 3 big cities have made freeway decisions that are negative, but they don't seem to matter that much. Pittsburgh has an elevated freeway along the Monongahela, but people just walk under it. Same with Louisville. Cincinnati has a freeway in a ditch in a similar position to I-70 here. They have embellished the overpasses but not covered the freeway. The riverfront would be like if KC had demolished all of River Market and put up football, baseball and indoor sports arena.
I can think of no way our river could become as friendly as the Ohio.
Both Cincinnati and Louisville have old bridges(both now Purple) that were repurposed into pedestrian bridges. Being one of the first big boats coming down the river since the shutdowns there were small crowds along riverbank in the middle of nowhere cheering. Coming into Louisville at twilight the ped bridge was packed with cheering families.
The small historic towns we stopped at were charming and packed with Federalist and Greek Revival antebellum structures.
The cruise line at one time considered a KC to St. Louis cruise, but dropped the idea when all captains and pilots interviewed said it was too dangerous. We did have a wooden paddle break from river debris and it had to be replaced. And at one port the river dropped 5 feet from morning to evening and that boat was stuck for a while. The boat has side thrusters and a propeller in addition to the paddlewheel
Do a trip report here....go to another city and want to relate it to what KC is doing right or could do better? Give us a summary in here.
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