By Rick Steelhammer, Staff writer
Port Amherst, just east of Charleston on the Kanawha River, may not be an Antwerp or a Hamburg, but it does occasionally handle international cargo shipments.
This week, the homeport for Madison Coal & Supply’s fleet of towboats and construction barges also served as the loading area for a huge new Belgian-made crane, which will eventually offload limestone at American Electric Power’s Cardinal power plant at Brilliant, Ohio.
The 173-ton crane traveled across the Atlantic on a freighter, which made its way up the St. Lawrence Seaway to Lake Erie before offloading its cargo in Cleveland. From Cleveland, the disassembled crane was trucked to Port Amherst, then partially reassembled and loaded on barges for the trip down the Kanawha River, then up the Ohio to the power plant, located across the river from Wellsburg in Brooke County.
Once at its destination, the crane will be mounted on in-river cells and used to offload limestone from barges for use in the power plant’s pollution-control scrubber units.
“We’re serving as a subcontractor for E-Crane International,” said Charles T. Jones, chairman of Madison Coal & Supply. “We’re one of the few docks on the river that can handle all that weight, and we’re able to provide the kind of mechanical help they need to help bolt pieces of the crane together.”
Workers from Madison Coal & Supply and E-Crane International rig hoisting straps and cables to a segment of a crane trucked to a dock at Port Amherst.
Photographer: Lawrence Pierce
“This is the fourth crane we’ve loaded here in the last two and a half years,” said Dale Ensminger, foreman of an E-Crane International transportation and installation crew. “We love working with Madison Coal & Supply. You can find places that are a little closer to the destination, but none with better people.”
In addition to serving as the headquarters for Madison Coal & Supply’s fleet of 30 Ohio and Kanawha River towboats and its barge-mounted marine construction arm, Port Amherst is a staging area for coal barges and an offloading port for rock, sand, gravel and limestone. Large private boats and pieces of construction equipment are also taken off the river here.
The crane, with a bucket capable of lifting 27,000-pound payloads, is expected to arrive at the Cardinal plant no later than Monday morning, and be ready to operate by the end of next week.