fbpx
All Posts By

Esther Herbers

C&O Canal Aqueducts

By Blog, Content, Explore Your Canal, History, Landmarks, Planning Your Visit

Eleven aqueducts stand along the C&O Canal – some of the most impressive of the canal structures that stand today. Aqueducts transported the canal over streams and tributaries. Several have been rebuilt, including the Conococheague Aqueduct in Williamsport, which is watered and is one of the only places in the country where you can ride a boat over an aqueduct. The eleven aqueducts are all different – the stone they were constructed with varies, including red sandstone, grey limestone, white granite, white and pink quartzite. Some have fallen apart and exist only as ruins, while others have been lovingly restored by the National Park Service to their former glory. All stand testament to the engineering ingenuity and devoted labor that went into their construction and the important role they played in the growth of our country.

 East: DC to Brunswick

Mile Marker 1.0                       Alexandria Aqueduct
An earlier attempt to relieve the congestion of canal boats unloading cargo in Georgetown, the Potomac Aqueduct allowed canal boats to cross over the Potomac River, connect with the Alexandria Canal, and deliver goods to the wharves at Alexandria, Virginia. This structure was built between 1833 and 1843. Only two of the aqueduct’s abutments and one pier near the Virginia shore remain today. Because this aqueduct was constructed by the City of Alexandria, it is not counted in the Park’s eleven.

Mile Marker 22.7                     Seneca Aqueduct
Seneca Aqueduct and Lock 24 are combined into a single structure here, the only place along the canal that this was necessary. This is one of 11 aqueducts that carried the canal over major tributaries of the Potomac.

Mile Marker 42.2                     Monocacy Aqueduct
The Monocacy Aqueduct is the largest of the canal’s 11 stone aqueducts. It is often considered one of the two finest features of the C&O Canal. It was built from 1829-1833.

Mile Marker 51.5                     Catoctin Aqueduct
The Catoctin Aqueduct is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built with two semi-circle arches on either side of an elliptical arch. The elliptical arch was not structurally strong and began to sag, leading to structural failure. In 1973 two arches collapsed leaving only a remnant of the eastern arch standing. The Park Service buried the original stones to help preserve them in case the aqueduct was ever restored, which began in 2007. The restored aqueduct was dedicated and re-opened in 2011.

 Central: Brunswick to Hancock

 Mile Marker 69.4                     Antietam Aqueduct
The Antietam Aqueduct is the fourth of 11 stone aqueducts. The 140-foot structure is built of limestone from a nearby quarry and has three elliptical arches. It’s located near Antietam Battlefield but actually sustained extensive damage by the Confederates during General Jubal Early’s invasion of Maryland in 1864.

Mile Marker 99.6                     Conococheague Aqueduct

Completed in 1834, the Conococheague Aqueduct was built of limestone from nearby quarries. The aqueduct has three equal arch spans. Both armies launched raids against the aqueduct during the Civil War. Years later, the berm wall collapsed early on the morning of April 20, 1920. The boat traveling across the aqueduct fell into the Conococheague Creek and remained there until the 1936 flood carried it down the Potomac. A full restoration of the aqueduct was completed in 2019. Canal launch boat rides across the re-watered aqueduct are offered seasonally.

Mile Marker 116.1                   Licking Creek Aqueduct
The 90-foot, single-span aqueduct was described by the C&O Canal Company in 1839 as “one of the longest, if not the longest aqueduct arch which has been constructed in the United States.” Constructed between 1836 and 1838, the structure is largely built of limestone and cement transported from nearby Hook’s mill, just across the river from Hancock. The aqueduct was first used in 1839 when the canal was watered from Dam no. 6 down to Dam no. 5. This was the same year canal operations began in the town of Hancock.

Mile Marker 123.0                   Tonoloway Aqueduct
Constructed between 1835 and 1839 of limestone extracted upstream on Tonoloway Creek, Tonoloway Aqueduct carried canal boats across Tonoloway Creek, a 31-mile tributary of the Potomac River. Cement for the aqueduct came from Captain Hook’s mill but during a water shortage in the summer of 1837, cement was imported from Boteler’s Mill and Baltimore.

West: Hancock to Cumberland

 Mile Marker 136.6                   Sideling Hill Creek Aqueduct
The Sideling Hill Creek Aqueduct was built between 1837 and 1840, primarily using Tonoloway Limestone from the quarry at the mouth of the Cacapon River, as well as Pocono sandstone rubble from Sideling Hill. The aqueduct has a single arch with a 70-foot span. The creek marks the boundary between Washington and Allegany Counties.

Mile Marker 140.9                   Fifteenmile Creek Aqueduct
The Fifteen Mile Creek Aqueduct is a small, single-arch aqueduct. Built between 1838 and 1850, it is in excellent condition for a century and a half old structure. It was constructed with hard flint stone quarried at Sideling Hill on the West Virginia side of the river. In 1842, during construction, the Canal Company ran out of funds and work was suspended for a time, but finally, work was completed and the aqueduct began service in 1850.

Mile Marker 162.4                   Town Creek Aqueduct
Town Creek Aqueduct is a single-span aqueduct. Construction began in 1837 and was abandoned in 1838 when the contractor quit during the Canal Company’s financial crisis. It was completed during the final phase of C&O Canal construction (1848-1850) by Michael Byrne. It is the tenth of 11 aqueducts on the Canal and, like many of the other 11, is missing its upstream wall.

Mile Marker 180.7                   Evitts Creek Aqueduct
The Evitts Creek Aqueduct is the last of the 11 aqueducts on the Canal, and is made of “Fossilferous Tonoloway Limestone” quarried upstream and shipped to the aqueduct via a 1.5 mile railroad. Work began in 1839 and was completed in 1841 when the C&O Canal Company ran out of funds, with final touches and service beginning in 1850.

 

Written By: Charissa Hipp

C&O Canal Brewery Tour

By Blog, Content, Explore Your Canal, Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities

The first breweries near the canal opened in 2016 and two more have opened since then. Many outdoor enthusiasts know a hike or bike ride followed by a craft beer is one of the best combinations out there.

There are over 6,500 breweries in the United States and each one is unique. Breweries can highlight local ingredients, traditions, and history.

Smoketown Brewing Station – Brunswick, MD (Mile 55)

Facebook | Instagram | Website

Smoketown Brewing Station opened in 2016 in a former firehouse. The owner’s father worked in the firehouse as a firefighter, and now his son works in the same firehouse as a brewer. Smoketown has a family-friendly patio environment and is open to outside food. Grab a slice of pizza from King’s Pizza next door to enjoy with your beer. Smoketown hosts trivia and food trucks. Check their events page for more details.

Smoketown’s creative beer names incorporate historical and local references. “The Patsy New England IPA” is for country star Patsy Cline who performed in the events space upstairs and at the Brunswick Lions Club, now the Brunswick Heritage Museum. “Berlin Brown Ale” references one of Brunswick’s former names. “Lockhouse 28 Imperial Stout” is for the Lockhouse a few miles east on the towpath. Finally, “Walter’s Spirit Porter” is named after a man who used to work in the fire hall. Staff and guests report having seen his ghost.

Smoketown Brewing Station

Harpers Ferry Brewing – Purcellville, VA (Mile 60)

Facebook | Instagram

This brewery is technically in Purcellville, VA, but it is only a 5-to-10-minute drive from lower town Harpers Ferry. Harpers Ferry Brewing opened in 2018 and is family and dog friendly. During the summer, enjoy “The Needle”, named after a rapid on the Potomac River while you enjoy an amazing view and watch the rafters and tubers float down the Potomac River. Harpers Ferry Brewing often hosts live music, bingo nights, and food trucks. Check their Facebook page for more details.

Bavarian Brothers Brewing – Shepherdstown, WV (Mile 72)

Facebook | Instagram | Website

Bavarian Brothers Brewing opened in 2019 as part of the Bavarian Inn, a European boutique resort operating in Shepherdstown since 1977. Relax in their brewpub, brew lounge, or outdoor beer garden all overlooking the Potomac River. Enjoy an Appalachia Ale or a Sozial,Session Ale, the German word for socialize. You can also order meals and small bites.

“On Tap” by: Bavarian Brothers Brewing

Cushwa Brewing Company – Williamsport, MD (Mile 99)

Facebook | Instagram | Website

Opened in 2016, Cushwa Brewing Co. is a family- and dog-friendly brewery. They rotate food trucks weekly and host trivia, yoga, painting, and succulent planting events. Check their Facebook page for more details. Cushwa sells small bites, cans, and growlers to go. Their signature beer is the Cush, a fruity IPA. The Big Cush and the Cush with Wakatu are variations on the original.

Cushwa Brewing is named after the Cushwa Basin in Williamsport. The Cushwa Basin was a turning basin where boats could turn around. You can even see a canal boat in their logo and as part of the brewery’s décor.

“Cushwa” by: Cushwa Brewing Company

1812 Brewery – Cumberland (Mile 184.5)

Facebook | InstagramWebsite

1812 Brewery is the first brewery in Allegany County, opened in 2017. It is located on Mason Road and is a 12-minute drive from the towpath in Cumberland. 1812 is a farm brewery located on 190 acres in a repurposed barn built in 1812. It has a taproom and outdoor patio, where dogs are allowed. They are family-friendly and offer light snacks and growlers.

They host live music, a craft and flea market, and private events. Check their Facebook page for more details. Some of their beers are historically named, including “Maddy’s Golden Ale” and “Monroe’s Ale” for Presidents James Madison and James Monroe, and “Ambush IPA” in reference to the Civil War history in the region.

1812 Brewery from above by: 1812 Brewery

“Flight by the fire” by: 1812 Brewery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next time you’re enjoying the C&O Canal top off your visit with a locally brewed beer.

—-

Brunswick, Harpers Ferry, Shepherdstown, and Williamsport are Canal Towns. Learn more about the Canal Towns Partnership here.

3 Ways to Support the Canal Towns

By Blog, Content, News, Towns and Communities

The Canal Towns, ten towns that line the C&O Canal National Historical Park, provide cyclists and tourists with lodging, food, and services that make the thru-ride possible for so many people. However, the merchants in these towns are suffering, as the tourism and hospitality industries are some of the hardest hit due to COVID-19 closures. As we enter what would be the start of the busy outdoor recreation season on the canal, please consider supporting the Canal Town businesses in the following ways: Read More

Places for History Buffs Not to Miss

By Blog, Explore Your Canal, History, Landmarks, Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities
Most people think of the C&O Canal as a place for outdoor recreation, but the park is designated as a national historical park because of its rich history. The canal’s history is multi-faceted—from its use as a transportation route with over 1,000 historic structures to its strategic location along the Potomac during the American Civil War and beyond. Today it’s not only a great place to enjoy the outdoors, but it’s a treasure trove for history enthusiasts. Read More

My Time as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the C&O Canal Trust

By Blog, News
I’m 10 months into a year-long internship as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) with the C&O Canal Trust. Towards the end of college, I knew I didn’t want to go straight into another degree program. I was interested in program evaluation, policy research, community, and international development. I was keenly aware that there was a disconnect between the theories and case studies I was reading about and the reality of community development and the nonprofit world. I strongly wanted experience in the nonprofit or public sector before I continued my education. For these reasons, I applied to the AmeriCorps VISTA program and accepted a one-year position working with the C&O Canal Trust and the Canal Towns Partnership. Read More

Remote Places Along the C&O Canal to Explore While Socially Distancing

By Blog, Content, Explore Your Canal, History, Landmarks, Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities

Towpath near Shepherdstown by Alma Rebekah Hanna

During this stressful time of social distancing and isolation, it is critically important you take care of your physical and mental health. Fortunately, the C&O Canal National Historical Park can offer you fresh air, relaxation, and a break from the news coverage. The western section of the C&O Canal offers many remote points of interest that are less frequently visited than popular eastern hubs such as Great Falls. Consider visiting some of these western gems along the canal for a stroll or a bike ride along the towpath — but make sure you are following all social distancing guidelines. If you have kids, take our C&O Canal Scavenger Hunt with you!

Read More

Exploring New Routes – On and Off the Towpath

By Blog, Explore Your Canal, Planning Your Visit, Things to Do
One of my favorite things about the resurfaced towpath is how easy it is to go from biking on the towpath to biking on the road. Before the resurfacing, I would never bring a road bike on the towpath, and even a gravel bike would be uncomfortable. So I would have to choose between a road ride and a towpath ride. Now I don’t have to choose. The resurfaced towpath opens up a whole new set of routes that combine the quiet nature of the towpath with nearby state parks, battlefields, and towns. Learn more about towpath resurfacing here.

Read More

Poolesville Joins the Canal Towns Partnership

By News, Towns and Communities
The Montgomery County town of Poolesville recently joined the Canal Towns Partnership, a community and economic development organization made up of 10 towns along the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP). “We are excited to have our first new canal town come on board since the inception of the partnership in 2011,” said Abbie Ricketts, the chair of the Canal Towns Partnership.

Through tourism marketing and advocacy, the Canal Towns Partnership aims to amplify the voices of its small canal town members so they can fully reap the economic benefits of trail tourism. The C&O Canal NHP hosts 4.5 million visitors a year, many of whom visit the Canal Towns in search of food, drink, shopping, and lodging.

Read More

Celebrating Presidents’ Day on the C&O Canal

By Blog, Canal Quarters, History

Photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash

Many people are familiar with the C&O Canal’s connection to the Judicial Branch because of Justice Douglas, but what about the Executive Branch? In honor of Presidents’ Day, we ask how our Presidents have supported the C&O Canal and how they themselves have benefited from the canal.

With the White House only a 10-minute walk from the Park, various Presidents have enjoyed the Canal and the Potomac River over the years for both its recreational opportunities and its tranquility.

 

 

Read More

Holiday Shopping in Brunswick, Harpers Ferry, and Bolivar (3/3)

By Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities
Get your holiday shopping done early, and you’ll thank yourself for it later. If you are looking for secret Santa gifts, stocking stuffers, gifts for family member of all ages, or holiday decorations, the Canal Towns have you covered. Grab a hot drink and snack to fuel your shopping spree in the fresh Western Maryland air while supporting local businesses. This is a three-part series, find part 1 here, and part 2 here.

Read More

Holiday Shopping in Hancock and Cumberland (2/3)

By Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities
Get your holiday shopping done early, and you’ll thank yourself for it later. If you are looking for secret Santa gifts, stocking stuffers, gifts for family member of all ages, or holiday decorations, the Canal Towns have you covered. Grab a hot drink and snack to fuel your shopping spree in the fresh Western Maryland air while supporting local businesses. This is a three-part series, find part 1 here, and part 3 here.

Read More

Holiday Shopping in Shepherdstown, Williamsport, and Sharpsburg (1/3)

By Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities
Get your holiday shopping done early, and you’ll thank yourself for it later. If you are looking for secret Santa gifts, stocking stuffers, gifts for family member of all ages, or holiday decorations, the Canal Towns have you covered. Grab a hot drink and snack to fuel your shopping spree in the fresh Western Maryland and West Virginia air while supporting local businesses. Read More

E-Bikes on the Towpath

By News

You may have heard that e-bikes are now legal to ride in National Parks and on other public lands. Whether you’re delighted to be able to take your e-bike on the towpath, or worried about how this will impact your experience in the Park, please read on.

Read More

Bike Your Park Day 2019

By History, Landmarks, News

The last Saturday in September is Bike Your Park Day, an initiative created by the Adventure Cycling Association to promote biking in national parks, state parks, and other public lands. Lowell Markey, longtime volunteer with the C&O Canal National Historical Park, led an interpretive bike ride on September 28 to celebrate this year’s Bike Your Park Day. Visitors got to experience the new towpath surface near Shepherdstown and discover the history of this part of the park.

Read More

Canal Quartermasters’ Perspectives

By Canal Quarters, Swains

In 1954, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas famously joined the effort to protect the C&O Canal’s unique beauty and preserve it as a “sanctuary for everyone.” Thanks to Justice Douglas and countless others, visitors can continue to marvel at its wild serenity. Picking up this torch of appreciation and advocacy for the Canal is a special group of C&O Canal Trust volunteers called Quartermasters, who help to maintain the lockhouses and assist guests of the Trust’s Canal Quarters program. Read More