River Coal Shipments Continue Slump in WV
The State Journal
21 July 2016
By Jim Ross
Coal shipments through locks on the Kanawha River and on the part
of the Ohio River that borders West Virginia were down in the
second quarter, continuing a trend.
On average, the seven Ohio River locks, from the New Cumberland
Locks and Dam in the Northern Panhandle to Robert C. Byrd Locks
and Dam near Point Pleasant, saw coal tonnage passing through them
decline by an average of 16 percent in the quarter.
The locks at Robert C. Byrd handle coal out of the Kanawha River
heading south and coal out of the Big Sandy River heading north.
As production in those two basins has declined in recent years,
the locks at Byrd have gone from being the busiest for coal in
West Virginia to the least busy on this part of the Ohio.
Meanwhile, the Racine Locks and Dam, between Point Pleasant and
Ravenswood, handles coal heading north out of the Kanawha and
south out of the Moundsville area for customers on the Kanawha and
the lower Ohio. It has become the busiest on the upper Ohio for
The largest decline in coal shipments on West Virginia’s waterways
came at the Winfield Locks and Dam on the Kanawha River, where
shipments were only about half what they were in the second
quarter of last year. Year-to-year comparisons might not indicate
a trend, as last year’s second quarter was a strong one for
shipments through Winfield, but traffic was still down about 19
percent from 2014.
Locks at Marmet and London also saw coal tonnage decreases in the
Unlike last year, shipments of petroleum and petroleum
products were also down at all Ohio River locks along the West
Virginia border. Decreases ranged from 9 percent at the Byrd to 24
percent at Pike Island, near Wheeling. However, shipments of those
products are still higher than they were in 2014.
The Morgantown Lock and Dam on the Monongahela River did not
handle any coal barges in the second quarters of 2015 or 2016. The
Hildebrand and Opekiska locks on the Monongahela between
Morgantown and Fairmont have been closed to commercial traffic for
Monthly numbers were not available for the Big Sandy River or the
Little Kanawha River, as they do not have locks on their navigable