Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Back to things nautical, ...

... or, at least, riverine. Another Fray friend, Raprap, with whom I share (at least on my father's side) an Ohio valley heritage, has posted a comment in response to my initial "Welcome" post below, in which he gives the happy news that at least twenty old-style tall stack sternwheel river boats still are in sailing condition. He also quotes one of my favorite musicians:

John Hartford, in a river song, once described a riverboat as an engine surrounded by someone with a fetish for a scroll saw. He was right. It isn’t unusual to see a new hull built around 75 year old engines. A hull with these beautiful Victorian filigreed scroll sawn gussets on all three decks.

Despite my paternal connection to the river, I've not spent enough time along the banks of the O-hi-o (as the old song goes, which I first heard at about age ten on the radio in my parents' Chevy while riding across southern Ohio en route from my mother's home in Pennsylvania to my dad's in Indiana) to see one of the grand old boats steam by. I have seen many a stick of barges pushed by a massive diesel-powered towboat. So, tell me, Rap, or anybody, why is it called a "towboat" if all it does is push, not pull?