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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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.

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

Canal for All: A Reflection Four Years In

By Blog, Content

In October of 2016, almost four years ago, the Canal for All Pilot Phase was launched thanks to a grant provided by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and the Kendeda Fund. The two-year pilot initiative focused on connecting African-American and Latinx communities in Montgomery County with the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) through the themes of work, play, learn and serve. 

Throughout those two years, the C&O Canal Trust formed ten new partnerships with local government, nonprofits, and businesses, and provided access to the park through fee-free overnight experiences and recreational programming. Read more about the launch of Canal for All and its efforts to engage underrepresented audiences here and here

In 2018 the Trust received a $19,000 grant from the Montgomery County Council to launch a Conservation Jobs Corps (CJC) program. The program was implemented in the spring of 2019 in partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Recreation’s TeenWorks program and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The season began with crew of youth volunteering in the park on select Saturdays to work on maintenance and beautification projects. Then, from July of 2019 to early August, CJC crews were employed to provide valuable help with park maintenance projects, and were instrumental in helping the park recover from severe flooding events in Great Falls and the surrounding area. Program participants were exposed to a variety of projects, while also having the opportunity to engage in recreation throughout the park. CJC members also participated in the Trust’s 2019 Canal Pride events. Read more about the CJC here

Teenworks Crew at Great Falls in October 2019

Throughout 2019, the Trust also continued programming with its other partners including Identity Inc. and Community Bridges. Youth from Identity Inc. were able to experience the park through a variety of activities during Latino Conservation Week, and two groups of girls from Community Bridges were given a free overnight stay in Lockhouse 6 accompanied by a mini-lesson from a Canal Classrooms teacher. 

Youth from Identity Inc. on a bike ride during Latino Conservation Week 2019

Looking ahead to the next phase of Canal for All, the Trust plans to continue relevant programming with our partners, foster existing partnerships and seek out new ones, and look for opportunities to expand the Canal for All initiative into other counties and communities. The Trust is also committed to weaving the values of diversity, tolerance, and inclusion into all aspects of our work and increasing the cultural competency of our organization and the C&O Canal NHP. 

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!

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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.

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African American Heritage Sites Along the C&O Canal

By Blog, Content, Explore Your Canal, History, Landmarks
The C&O Canal is a great place to experience history! Visitors can learn about the construction of the canal in the mid-nineteenth century, the fierce competition between the C&O Canal and the B&O Railroad, and even experience life as a lock keeper with an overnight stay in a historic lockhouse through the Canal Quarters Program. But the C&O Canal is also a great place to learn about African American history in the region. There are many historic churches, communities, and heritage sites along the canal that preserve the African American experience in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Read More

Nature in January on the Canal

By Blog, Explore Your Canal, Nature
January can be such a quiet month. The bustle of the holidays are over, and people are returning to a normal rhythm at work. Things can be similarly quiet within the C&O Canal National Historical Park. With the cooler temperatures and shorter days, fewer people are venturing out to explore. But there is still so much to see in the Park in January. If you have a chance, go for a hike on the towpath and see what you can find while the world is quieter.

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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.

 

 

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Canal Lockhouses Get New Roofs

By Blog, Canal Quarters
Great News! Lockhouse 22 (Pennyfield) and Lockhouse 25 (Edwards Ferry) recently received new roofs from the National Park Service. Both of these lockhouses are part of the C&O Canal Trust’s Canal Quarters program and are available for overnight stays, allowing visitors a chance to experience a small part of what a lock keeper’s life was like during the days of the Canal’s operation. These new roofs are essential for the preservation of the lockhouses themselves, and the history inside them.   

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My Time as Chesapeake Conservation Corps Member at the C&O Canal Trust

By Blog, Canal Pride, Canal Quarters, Content, Stories
I have been serving with the C&O Canal Trust as a member of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps. At the C&O Canal Trust, every day is different. I might be at my desk for most of the day, answering emails and working on administrative tasks, and the next day, I could be out in the field scoping out projects for Canal Pride Days or checking on one of the lockhouses in the Canal Quarters program. I am nearly six months into my one-year term at the Trust, and I’ve had the opportunity to work on numerous projects and work closely with the passionate, dedicated staff at the Trust and within the National Park Service (NPS). 

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Charles Fisk’s Impact on the Canal

By Blog, History

Written by Karen Gray- C&O Canal National Historical Park Historian

Charles Bezaleel Fisk (June 14, 1806–Jan. 11, 1866) is the only C&O Canal engineer who served throughout the construction period, being hired as a mere assistant engineer in 1828, rising to the position of chief engineer in April 1837, and leaving the canal in 1852. Fisk’s name is on the builders stone in the middle of the berm parapet of the Monocacy Aqueduct, the keystone of the upstream portal of the Paw Paw Tunnel, and the C&O completion obelisk beside the Wisconsin Avenue bridge over the canal in Georgetown on the NW side.

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5 Things to Do on the C&O Canal in the Winter

By Blog, Canal Quarters, Explore Your Canal, Nature, Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities, Uncategorized
To some of us, winter is a time to stay indoors by the fire. But why would you stay indoors when the C&O Canal National Historical Park offers some of the most scenic areas to explore during the winter months? So put on some warm clothes and come experience the C&O Canal as a winter wonderland!

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Invasive Plants: How You Can Help Prevent Their Spread

By Blog, Nature
One of the most common threats to the natural ecosystems of the C&O Canal National Historical Park are invasive plant species. Invasive species are not native to the area and have a negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem. Many invasive plant species not only outcompete the native plants, but they have little to no native predators, allowing invasives to thrive and spread in the Park. Read More