To get a personal look at what it is like to work on the Ohio River, newspaperman James E. Casto spent eight days aboard the Blazer as it traveled the Ohio from Huntington, West Virginia, to Pittsburgh, up the Allegheny and the Mongahela, and then back to Huntington. The Paul G. Blazer, a gleaming white towboat owned and operated by Ashland Oil, pushes a group -- or "tow," as the rivermen call it -- of nine barges on this trip. Along the way, Casto introduces us to Captain Ronnie Davis, pilot Ronnie Burge, engineer Steve Bellomy, the mates, the deckhands, and the cook, as well as the river itself, the life and the beauty that are the Ohio.
Interwoven with the narrative of the trip upriver and back is the history of commerce on the Ohio -- of how the flatboats and keelboats gave way to the steamboats and how, in turn, the steamboats were replaced by today's powerful, diesel-powered boats such as the Blazer.
Mark Twain wrote that the Mississippi had a new story to tell every day. The same can be said of the Ohio. As engaging as it is informative, Towboat on the Ohio tells one of the many stories of the busy, hardworking Ohio River.