Moving goods on barges is big business, but the lock system those barges rely on teeters on the brink of failure.
Deckhands Jeremy Groves and Dustin Frazee descend from the towboat D.L. Johnson to inspect their cargo: a single barge of coal. They circle the barge, walking along its edges — the gunnels — to make sure everything looks okay. Satisfied, they pick up kevlar lines and loop them around the barge’s timberheads. A 40-ton winch aboard the D.L. Johnson pulls the barge snug against the boat. That way, the cargo won’t wander as it’s pushed down the upper reaches of the Ohio River.
Captain Matthew Baumgartner watches from the wheelhouse. What they do on the water is important, he said.
“We move a lot of coal for power plants and steel mills, you know, keeps everybody in electricity.”
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