Racine, Ohio

There is a lot more to say about Racine. First of all, the town is about a mile by road, and about a half mile back upriver from the Old Lock 24 campground where I am camping. Racine has a couple of boat ramps right there within a block or two of the main part of town, which makes access very convenient. More about the town in a minute.

The campground has a low levee next to the river where I parked my boat. About seven in the evening I saw a pickup truck drive onto the levee and a young man pulled a kayak out of the back and prepared to put it in the river. I was in a chair up the bank a bit and when he noticed my kayak, he walked over to check it out. Then he noticed me and asked if it was mine. We struck up a conversation regarding kayaks and he introduced himself as Jake. There is a power plant right across the river and every night Jake paddles across to go to work there. Then about seven AM he paddles back; he lives with his family in Racine. If he wanted to drive to work, he would have to cross the nearest bridge, which is in Pomeroy, a trip for him of about eight miles, twice a day. We talked a while and I learned that he teaches SCUBA diving at University of Ohio in nearby Athens. He told me if I was to meet him in the morning he would drive me into town to Sikorski's to get some breakfast. Which I did. And I plan another dinner there this afternoon.

Later last evening I met Tammy, the campground owner. We had a wonderful conversation about the area, the river, and life along the Ohio. She told me that last year a paddler had come through with a dog - I wonder if my dog May would take to that. The old lock building is fascinating. It housed the pump and boilers to serve the old lock and when the dam and lock were removed, the boilers were taken out and the building stood empty for several years. The building was originally built in 1916, has a poured concrete bottom foundation with a two story brick structure on top of that. The roof is supported entirely by steel beams which makes the upper portion of the lockhouse one single very large room. That was where the boilers were located. The coal-fired boilers actually generated steam which was piped to the lock to control the gates, as well as power the pumps that controlled the water level. Modern locks are all operated by electricity controlled hydraulic pumps and gates.

So today, August 5th, I am spending another day, and night, at the Old Lock 24 campground, exploring Racine and the areas along the river. I had a great breakfast at Sikorski's and toured the town afterward. Racine is very small, less than seven hundred people, but it has an atmosphere of friendliness and everyone I have talked to is proud of their little burg. Lots of workers in the diner this morning, all wanting to hear what I did. Apparently they get few travelers through, even less that paddle down the river. Also visited the city municipal building where I got a virtual tour of all important items in town. When I left there, I visited a park on the south side of town which has a very heartfelt memorial to all the veterans from Racine who have given their lives in the nation's wars. What impressed me most was the tribute given to those that fought in Grenada, Panama and the Gulf War, usually not recognized as serious enough to merit attention. Over three hundred service people were killed in those three conflicts and it is befitting that they should be honored.

Back at the campground now just relaxing from the daily grind of the past four weeks. Probably go on to Pomeroy and Middleport tomorrow, where I may spend another rest day. We'll see.