Banks of the Ohio

There is a song titled "Banks of the Ohio". It tells of a dimwit named Willie who takes his bride-to-be for a walk down by the river and kills her. He's afraid she's going to be untrue to him - she hasn't been yet, but he kills her anyway. There are a number of folk songs with this theme, "Pretty Polly", "Nashville Girl", must be something to it. Anyway, from what I've seen so

far, there's not too many places you can take a walk by the river. What isn't overgrown with poison ivy and brambles, is blocked with industrial waste. It is everywhere. It seems that these big barges that haul coal up and down the river eventually wear out - so what becomes of them ? They are parked along the bank and over the years, they become part of the bank. Trees grow out of them, they rust away and sink, not totally, just halfway so you can still see the skeleton. There are also huge pieces of machinery, gears, scaffolds, tanks, iron pipes big enough to stand up in, office furniture, vehicle carcasses, litter of every imaginable item.

And rope. Miles and miles of it. Hanging from every fixture along the bank. I suppose they were lines used for mooring these barges, but most of the mooring posts have rotted away and fallen down but the rope remains. Big two inch thick twisted line, coils of it everywhere.

There is a lot of debris along the bank, mostly the remains of trees that have been washed down in floods. Also a lot of boulders, but I think these came down when they blasted the sides of the hills away to make level tracks for the roads and railroads. But most of the bank is covered in hardwood forest, maples, oaks, elms, black locust, northern trees. No pecans or cypress. And a ground cover similar to, but not, kudzu.

Don't get me wrong, I love the river, everything about it. It is obviously an industrial pathway and there doesn't seem to be any place to dispose of all the enormous litter that the industry produces. So just leave it on the bank - in a thousand years, it will degrade into baser elements and disappear.

"I asked my love to take a walk, down beside where the waters flow, down by the banks of the Ohio . . . "