When young James Coomer was offered a job as deckhand on the tugboat Pat Murphy at a dollar an hour, he took his first smell of diesel fuel and knew he was hooked. Life on the Ohio puts the reader in the pilot's seat as Coomer wrestles with runaway barges, navigates through ice and fog, pacifies angry crew members, and contends with the loneliness of working a thirty-day stretch. A modern counterpart to Twain's account of life as a steamboat pilot, Life on the Ohio depicts the working river as it is today with its immense towboats, gigantic locks and dams, and millions of tons of cargo. Coomer captures the movement of the boats and the colorful language of river people. Coomer admits that he stuck at his job t for money but for love of the river and his work. Over the years I had experiences I wouldn't trade for a barge full of gold, he says, and that's what this book is all about.