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Vote Louisville - Everything About The Election

The Minds Behind Louisville’s Riverfront Revival

In Louisville the Ohio River has something of an image problem.

It seems like everything imaginable has ended up in the river at one time or another. There are the usual suspects like plastic bottles, Styrofoam coolers and tires. There are the byproducts of cities and industries: sewage, landfill juice and industrial waste. And then there are the things that seem almost uniquely Kentucky like coal ash and bourbon.

The Ohio River has been called “the most polluted river in America,” but that’s an incomplete portrait of a nearly thousand-mile-long river teeming with biodiversity, history and culture.

At times, the industrial impacts have overshadowed the natural splendor that draws some to the river. But a few enthusiasts have taken it upon themselves to rehab the Ohio’s image, from dumping ground and coal barge causeway, to natural resource and recreation trail.

The East End Bridge in eastern Jefferson County during an Ohio River sunset.

Along Louisville’s Waterfront Park, David Karem sees the river as the lifeblood of the community. On the river itself, David Wicks kayaks through an ecological corridor, devising a recreation trail where others see barge commerce. And standing beside a road crumbling into the Ohio’s …