Sunday, May 20, 2007


Approach to Widewater from the east, C&O Canal Towpath,
Angler's Inn, Carderock, MD.

Bonsai-like outcropping with trees, blue heron, and reflection,
Widewater, C&O Canal Towpath, Angler's Inn, Carderock, MD.

When I can't get to the beach and I want somewhere quiet to sit and reflect, I get up early in the morning and go to the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath near Angler's Inn on the Maryland side of Great Falls on the Potomac.

The C&O Canal originally was built and served as America's first interstate commerce throughway for goods in our country. Today, in the D.C. Metropolitan Area, you can hike, bike, and kayak on more than 180 miles of trails and water. If you wanted to take on a bike trip, you could start in Georgetown, D.C.'s toniest neighborhood, and end in Pittsburgh, PA, Steel Capital of the World.

Here are some facts about the C&O Canal:
  • Construction was started on July 4, 1828 and completed 22 years later on October 10, 1850.
  • The canal cost $14 million to build and, at the height of construction, comprised a labor force of 4,000 men--most of them immigrants from Ireland and western Europe. In all, 35,000 laborers dug the canal, as well as aqueducts, culverts, locks, and lock houses.
  • In the C&O Canal National Park, which was established in 1971, the canal is 184.5 miles in length, six feet deep, 60-80 feet wide depending on the section, and has an elevation of 605 feet. The towpaths, along which the product-laden barges were pulled, was originally 12 feet wide.
  • There are 74 lift locks on the canal. They are 100 feet long, 14 feet wide, and 16 feet deep.
  • The canal operated from 1850 to 1924.
  • An average trip down the canal took seven days, working 18 hours per day.
The pictures above are of the approach to Widewater, about 1/4 of a mile west of Angler's Inn. The scene is idyllic and features a couple of tiny islands in the middle of this resevoir that have an almost Oriental quality about them. They look like large-scale bonsai. On this particular morning, the blue heron were especially active and, if you look closely, you can see several on the rocky outcroppings.

Zip: 20854 (Angler's Inn)
Zip: 20854 (Great Falls Nat'l Historic Park)

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential (Janet M. Kincaid, 05/07)

Facts About the Canal courtesy of the National Park Service, C&O Canal FAQs.

1 comment:

Happy LOL Day said...

I miss the canal the most. I used to live in MD and went to school in Takoma Park. I walked all over the place (Billy Goat's Trail) and our family would ride the canal and have over time covered the entire thing in pieces. I loved Fletcher's and Seneca the most, Great Falls was wonderful- Calderock was almost always our starting point. I loved looking up at Glen Echo as you came up to Georgetown. Sadly these were not happy family things, but to me, I made them into nice things by just riding as fast as I could to get away from the "group" and then taking my time riding and falling in love with nature. When I "sneak" back into town it's the only thing I want to see but haven't been back in ages. Thanks for bringing back some of my better memories of childhood, cobbled together from bad ones, but - I just realized this, like a "TLLT" moments from things strung together into something brand new and nice. :)