GREENE COUNTY, PA
GREENE COUNTY, PA
Working On The River: A View From The Captain's Chair
by Ben McMillen
FOOTPRINTS & SPOTLIGHTS SECTION
This is a story about a lifelong resident with a unique view on Greene County that most of us will never get to see.
Jason Thorne has been working on the river for 24 years. Over the last 15 years, he has been a boat captain of a towing vessel hauling coal, sand and fly ash. Working with six coworkers in tight quarters for two weeks at a time has its challenges.
Most of us have seen barges heading down the river but you may not realize just how massive these tow and barge combinations can be. Sometimes they are 105 feet wide and up to 1,000 feet long. That’s over three football fields in length with each individual barge weighing up to 1,500 tons each.
Jason says every day is an adventure. He always finds new scenery to look at even though he has taken the same trip many times before. He also enjoys the thrill of navigating a boat and crew that rely on him in adverse weather or high water conditions.
This is a job you either love or hate. The ones that love it make a career out if it. While you can put Jason down in the “LOVE IT” category, it does come with a hefty price that most of us take for granted. The toughest part for Jason and no doubt most workers who spend weeks at a time on a towing vessel is being away from family. You miss social events, holidays, and in some cases even the birth of your kids or grandkids. “Uncle Goofball,” as his nieces and nephews call him, at times have to settle for text messages or Facebook posts wishing them happy birthday from the river.
Speaking of family, Jason has been married to the love of his life, Reeda for 23 years. They still consider each other the best of friends. With three amazing kids that love life and now a grandson, Jason’s heart is pretty full. It would not be easy for most families to stay as close as they do with one parent gone for weeks at a time without plenty of love, a few jokes, lots of support, and a little understanding.
Jason is also a believer of using one’s resources for the betterment of his or her community. When he is not on the river, you can find him on Fridays during the warmer months selling popcorn on High Street. Using a real movie theater popcorn machine from the old movie theater his family owns. He does this 100 percent for charity with multiple Greene County non-profit organizations benefiting from the nearly $3,000 he raised in 2017. Expect to see him again in 2018. When it warms up just a bit, of course.
As for hobbies, Jason considers spoiling his new grandson his favorite pastime. Adding to that, he really enjoys radio controlled car racing at a local indoor track.
He never considered it a hobby, but Jason really enjoys taking photos of the water and cargo in front of him. This brings us back full circle to his unique view of Greene County, a new perspective ... the view from a Captain’s chair, looking out from a vantage point most of us will never see.
Below are some of those photos he takes with his cellphone. Some of these photos were not taken directly in Greene County, but we are including them so you can get a small glimpse of what life looks like on the river.
All Photos captured by Jason Thorne over the last several years.
Greene County PA
Stories Submitted by residents.