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Monocacy Aqueduct

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  • September 04, 2014

Works of Art

By Ranger Lisa

Being from the desert southwest, I love how light reflects in and off of natural rock in the canyon country, changing color with the time of day. A cliff that looks vermillion at sunset might appear gray during the afternoon. Another may change from golden to magenta at sunrise. Like a painting, light plays an important role in these natural works of art. Each color evokes a different feeling - peace, anxiety, harshness, or beauty.

I was surprised and delighted to find exposed rock in the structure of aqueducts when I moved to the C&O Canal in Maryland. The eleven aqueducts along the C&O Canal are made from different stone - red sandstone, gray limestone, white granite, white and pink quartzite - each reflecting light differently.

The Monocacy Aqueduct, with its seven arches spanning 516 feet, is the largest aqueduct and one of my favorites. The white stones, cut with large saws, were brought from a nearby quarry. They were painstakingly hand-shaped by masons then carefully placed together to build this impressive structure. The engineers who designed them chose to make the aqueducts decorative and with great care, as opposed to leaving them with a more utilitarian look.

Standing on top of the Monocacy Aqueduct, looking at early morning fog rolling off the Potomac, I imagine a canal boat coming upon this aqueduct in the 'middle of nowhere'. How magnificent to look upon this 'Work of Art'. Morning brings a quiet grayish white, turning to a harsh white by mid-afternoon, and changing to a soft gold with hints of magenta at sunset. Each time of day sets a different mood.

The next time you visit the Monocacy Aqueduct take the time to observe this work of art, take in its beauty and grandeur, and study the changing colors of light reflecting off its stones.

Monocacy Aqueduct Area

Monocacy Aqueduct Area
Milepost 42.2

Lock 27

Lock 27
Milepost 41.5

Broad Run Trunk

Broad Run Trunk
Milepost 31.9

Lockhouse 25

Lockhouse 25
Milepost 30.9

Indian Flats

Indian Flats
Milepost 42.2