Saturday, May 20, 2017

Along the C & O Canal, Potomac, Maryland

This is Lock 22 and the lockhouse beside it in the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Potomac, Maryland. We spent a few hours this morning strolling slowly along the canal towpath, which is still maintained for recreational use. We enjoyed occasional vistas of the Potomac River, which runs well below the level of the canal.

There's quite a bit of history in Lockhouse 22, which was originally constructed in 1832, and now is available for people to stay in. It's known as the Pennyfield Lock because George and Charlie Pennyfield, father and son, tended it from 1890 until 1924 when the canal closed. During this time, President Grover Cleveland liked to go fishing from this lockhouse. (He was President for two disjoint terms, 1885 – 1889, and 1893 – 1897.)

The website for the lock (link) states:
"The Potomac River is rife with obstacles that thwart water transportation. Rapids and waterfalls, products of the river’s elevation change, prompted C&O Canal visionaries to invest in a flat-level water route to run alongside the river. The idea was simple, but the construction quickly proved to be arduous. To bypass many of the geological obstacles, canal engineers devised unique structures such as aqueducts, lift bridges, incline planes, tunnels, and lift locks. These required the special skills of the stone cutters and masons whose work produced masonry marvels still appreciated today. Lockhouse 22 at Pennyfield reflects the early phase of canal construction, because of its lift lock and proximity to Dam 2 and its guard lock."
Both people and wildlife were enjoying the park as we strolled along this morning, having come from Fairfax where we are visiting. Herons, egrets, flycatchers, cardinals, and other birds were flying around, wading in the canal, or hiding in the foliage of the tall trees. Insects were flitting around, several turtles were coming up for air, and one water snake was rapidly swimming downstream. Bicyclists, fishermen, joggers, kayakers, and other birdwatchers were all doing their thing.

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