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Steamboats and Smog: Life Along the Ohio River in the 1970s

Steamboats and Smog: Life Along the Ohio River in the 1970s
Environmental Protection Agency

Over the next couple of years, the Ohio River will get two new bridges. One will run through downtown Louisville; the other will sit about eight miles outside the city.

The $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges project aims to alleviate traffic and encourage economic growth. It is a result of three decades of community discussions on how to connect the I-265 in Louisville to the I-265 on the other side of the river. The bridge will create a completed beltway around Louisville, connecting the two ends of the I-265 over low-density neighborhoods and green space.

Thanks to a settlement between Kentucky, Indiana, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, money has been set aside for the removal of historic properties near the future downtown bridge. Houses are now being moved through city streets in Jeffersonville, Indiana, to make way for that bridge.

Forty-one years ago, photographer William Strode photographed daily life along the Ohio River for the EPA's Documerica photo project. Strode's images show us life on the Ohio River, a complicated balance of highways, natural beauty, and boaters.

Below, courtesy the National Archives, Strode's Documerica photos along the river:

"State And County Police Patrol The Ohio River, June 1972"

"Paddlewheel Steamboats Seen From Banks Of Ohio River, May 1972"

"The Fourth Annual Spring Sunfish Regatta Of The Louisville Sailing Club, June 1972"

"The Ohio River, May 1972"

"Belle Of Louisiana, A Paddlewheel Steamboat Owned By Louisville And Jefferson County, May 1972"

"Smog Hangs Over Louisville And Ohio River, September 1972"

"Automobile Junkyard Can Be Seen From High Rise Buildings In Downtown, September 1972"

"Litter Left In The Ohio River, June 1972"

"Camping Along The Ohio River, June 1972"

"The Ohio River, June 1972"

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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