Nugent Sand’s Milton operation includes a new land-based loadout terminal (center foreground) at Ohio River Mile 552.5, along with dredging and mining operations, barge fleeting and barge cleaning. (Photo courtesy of Nugent Sand)
Dredging & Marine Construction

Nugent Sand Offers Modern Terminal, Century-Plus History

Nugent Sand Company’s roots go back 128 years to 1896, when the family began mining sand for commercial use. Still headquartered in Louisville, Ky., the business now has seven locations in Kentucky and Indiana and a new river terminal designed to better serve its customers.

W.F. Nugent & Bros. was incorporated as Nugent Sand Company in 1908. The family dug sand and gravel from the Ohio River, loading the materials onto wooden barges that were then towed by steam-powered paddle-wheel boats to the company’s docks. Barges were unloaded with a steam shovel, and deliveries were made by horse-drawn wagons.

While the company continues to dredge sand and gravel from the river and also mine it out of the ground, it now offers sand, peat and topsoil for golf courses and athletic fields along with construction and commercial uses. Its locally produced aggregates are available to customers of all sizes, including ready-mix concrete companies, landscapers and developers. Many of its products are used in concretes, asphalts and bases.

Nugent Sand also has its own barges, dredges and towboats and offers both fleeting space along the river and barge cleaning. Still family-owned and privately held, the company has expanded to six distribution yards, which include three barge-offloading terminals and one rail-loadout terminal.

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New Terminal

In November, Nugent Sand dedicated a new load-out facility in Milton, Ky., Ohio River Mile 552.5. Contracts are in place for the company to unload barges for local industry. The company has the ability to unload a variety of commodities, and the terminal has access to the nearby major interstates, I-71, I-65 and I-64.

“We bring in quite a few coal barges a year to unload, and we also clean barges there as well,” said Damon Hughes, vice president of operations.

While the company previously had a crane barge in Milton, Hughes said it realized it had an opportunity to expand to serve industry on the riverfront between Louisville and Cincinnati, Ohio.

“There was a need in that area for barge services, for the ability to bring bulk material in and unload it,” he said.

Operations manager Clay Ferris agreed, adding, “We saw the need and capitalized on that opportunity. We wanted to modernize our infrastructure there and offer additional services.”

Construction on the land-based offloading terminal started in the fourth quarter of 2020. It is designed to offload 700 tons per hour by means of a hopper, conveyors and barge positioning winches. The terminal also includes ample staging and stockpile areas with the ability for future expansion as customer needs dictate.

The terminal has the ability to fleet up to 40 barges and can offload and load barges up to a river level of 40 feet. Normal pool is 12 feet.Typical equipment deployed includes a 1,200 hp. towboat, Caterpillar 375 and Caterpillar 365 material handlers, Komatsu wheel loaders and a Link-Belt 65-ton hydraulic crane.

The company’s adjacent mine site at Milton includes a 2,000-acre mine and processing plant with two open pits along with an inland dredge operation, barge loading and offloading and truck loadout. The sand and gravel products from the Milton operation supply customers that have material hauled by trucks loaded out at the Milton sales yard. Customers with access to the Ohio River and the inland waterways and that have the facilities to unload barges, including Nugent’s other operations along the Ohio River, are supplied with material loaded out at the Milton terminal.

Tom Nugent, president and third-generation owner, said the company’s biggest asset remains its employees, of whom there are about 150.

“It’s still a family-oriented business,” Ferris added. “We all know each other and work together as a full team under the Nugent banner.”

Caption for photo: Nugent Sand’s Milton operation includes a new land-based loadout terminal (center foreground) at Ohio River Mile 552.5, along with dredging and mining operations, barge fleeting and barge cleaning. (Photo courtesy of Nugent Sand)