Department of Tourism
Catlettsburg Floodwall Mural Is Being Extended
CATLETTSBURG, Ky. – Three area muralists are beginning painting a new phase of the Catlettsburg floodwall that will include an extension of the Big Sandy Lock and Dam mural that was painted in 2006.
Three existing mural panels depict the old Lock and Dam #1, while the three additional panels scheduled to get underway this summer will extend the scene to include Virginia Point and the mouth of the Big Sandy River where it flows into the Ohio River at Catlettsburg in northeastern Kentucky.
Muralists Denise Spaulding, Melanie Osborne and Gary Preston have a working design for the new panels that will depict a coal barge in the background and an excursion boat in the foreground.
For the cost of a $100 ticket, an individual may be depicted as a passenger on the boat. Naming rights for the passenger/excursion boat are also available for a substantial donation, Spaulding said.
“I'm trying to combine elements of the more famous riverboats that have traveled the area, so that we can give a little nod to history,” Spaulding said.
The floodwall murals are located directly in front of the site where the Big Sandy Lock & Dam #1 was located. The structure was in existence from 1904 to 1959 and was the highest needle dam in the world when constructed. Remnants of the lock wall are still on the Kentucky side of the river.
When the six panels are completed the mural will be 120 feet long, with an approximate height of 15 feet. A final seventh panel planned to begin in 2008 will feature portraits of prominent donors to the project or of individuals being memorialized by the donors. This will extend the length of the mural to 150 feet.
This mural project was spurred by two of the daughters of one of the former lockmasters and other townspeople. The lockmaster, George Shannon, is one of the figures depicted in the foreground. The girls grew up living in the lockmaster's house that sat on the property by the dam. “They had this wonderful scene in their backyard and had longed for years to recreate it,” Spaulding said. “They knew much of what went on at the riverfront and made suggestions of what should be depicted.”
One subject is a catfish of local lore, known as Scrap Iron Jack. Six feet long and with several metal hooks in him where people had attempted to catch him, the catfish is seen near the rowboat. Skinny dippers were also known to visit the site and they've been included too. There were regulars who fished off the lock wall daily.
In addition to adding the coal barge and excursion boat, the river will be extended to include where the Big Sandy empties into the Ohio. Catlettsburg played a prominent role in the history of both rivers, and is even mentioned in Edna Ferber's novel "Showboat".
For more information, contact Denise Spaulding at 606-325-9482 or email@example.com.