Old Man River keeps on rollin’

G. Sam Piatt - PDT Outdoors Columnist

The view from the pinnacle of Dead Man’s Ridge at sunup is one of the most peaceful scenes a person can enjoy. You see the Ohio River winding off to the west between the purple hills of Kentucky and Ohio.

A squirrel squawks from a hickory tree; a chipmunk scurries through dry leaves on the ground; and a hawk soars down for the river bottoms. All are looking for breakfast.

This was the same view, with hardly a change, that I had enjoyed one morning long ago. I was 12 years old and camped on that ridge with half a dozen other members of Boy Scout Troop 160.

The scene moved me to try my hand at poetry.

The poem that resulted is long lost, but one stanza still sticks in my mind:

“The sun is now a-rising on another summer’s morn.

It makes a guy feel mighty good and glad that he was born.

The fog is also rising, and the river? It’s still there,

Rolling on and on forever, without worry or with care.”

Dead Man’s Ridge can be seen as you cross the Carl Perkins Memorial Bridge onto Kentucky’s Route 8. The trail leading to the top starts just behind the cigarette store.

Whether you be a hunter, angler, hiker, or just a watcher, just being out there in the outdoors – especially now as the calendar leafs toward October – is the part that makes you feel glad that you were born.

I wish everyone who reads these words was able to get out there and climb those ridges and walk the paths under the trees, taking time to stop and look and listen.

I know that many of you are no longer able to do that. And, truth be known, I probably would not have made it myself on this more recent trip had I not been straddling a four-wheel ATV.

The coming of fall brings an increase in activities that’s almost more than outdoors-minded people can a handle on.


For the hunter, there’s that deer stand to put up and some extra practice at shooting for bow hunters who go for venison for the family larder. Venison is good to eat, and healthy, too.

There are too many deer, and bow and gun hunting remains the best tool to keep the herd in manageable numbers.

Despite the fact that Ohio is densely populated and highly industrialized, it is one of the nation’s top producers of trophy whitetails. The Boone and Crockett Club currently ranks Ohio eighth overall with well over 100 entries in its record books.

The famous 39-point Beatty Buck was taken in Greene County in the fall of 2000. With a rack score of 304 6/8, it stands as the world’s largest non-typical white-tailed deer ever taken by a bowhunter.

My 17-foot canoe, with two upright seats and two new paddles, has set turned upside down on the sawhorses at the side of my house all summer, but I have hopes of guiding it down Tygarts Creek Gorge sometime this fall.

I’ve enjoyed several trips down the gorge during the past 25 years. On the most recent trip, a few years ago with family members and friends, we slid our canoes into Tygarts Creek at the southern end of the gorge, almost within the city limits of Olive Hill, and set off downstream on an overnighter, carrying food and water, tents and cooking gear, and fishing gear.

We planned on taking out the following afternoon or evening at Iron Hill, a Carter County community located on the northern end of the gorge.


As darkness approached that first night, we found ourselves deep within the gorge. Steep cliffs rose up on either side of the stream. We came up on a gravel bar big enough to accommodate our tents, on the left-hand side of the stream, across from the gaping mouth of a mysterious-looking cave. We explored the cave but never came to the end of it.

After a breakfast of eggs and bacon and pancakes, we continued on down the stream, fishing as we went. We caught a few largemouth, the biggest weighing about 2 pounds. There was a brief but unsuccessful battle with a three-foot muskie. There are some big muskie in the shaded pools of the gorge.

By noon of the second day we passed by the entrance to Carter Caves State Resort Park, where the creek goes under the bridge on Route 180, and – after having our shore lunch there – headed into the second half of the journey.

Along this stretch the rock walls held several caves, all of them out of reach from the base of the cliffs. The mouths of these caves are near-perfect circles about six feet in diameter. We did not explore any of these, as it appeared the only way to get to them was to rappel down from the tops of the cliffs.

All in all it was an enjoyable trip, slipping along with the current under a canopy of trees, filled with wonder and anticipation as we approached the next bend in the stream.

We passed under the Ky. 7 bridge and pulled our canoes ashore to take out.


The Soc & Sam canoe and kayak race will be held Saturday at 9am at the Raccoon Bridge located on Ky. 2 six miles south of Greenup.

The six mile race down the Little Sandy River to the boat ramp at Greenup is held in conjunction with Greenup’s Old Fashion Days, which opens Thursday.

A $10 entry fee per person will go to the Veteran’s Fund of Greenup County.

The race is named for Soc Clay and Yours Truly, who combined have been writing about the outdoors for over 100 years.


G. Sam Piatt

PDT Outdoors Columnist

Reach G. SAM PIATT at (606) 932-3619 or [email protected]

Reach G. SAM PIATT at (606) 932-3619 or [email protected]