Ker-plunk! (Towpath under water above McMahon’s Mill)

Flood Damage




The area received a hard rain a few days ago that also melted the last of the remaining snow.  The  local streams are still running high, so when we headed upstream from McMahon’s Mill, we weren’t terribly surprised to see a long stretch of debris lying on the towpath.

After all, the section above Dam 4 is prone to flooding–even beyond the new towpath created at Big Slackwater.  In fact, for much of the next half-mile above the mill, the towpath is squeezed in between cliffs and the river, and the old canal bed doesn’t re-appear until mile 89.1 (at Lock 41).


What? Huh? Where's the Towpath?



We trudged through logs and smaller branches deposited by the river for a couple of hundred feet before reaching a right turn at the base of a cliff.  Suddenly, the unthinkable happened–the towpath disappeared beneath the surging waters of the Potomac River.

This is merely high water, and the trail is susceptible here, so this isn’t anything more than one of the many minor setbacks that the NPS will surely encounter again this year.  Nevertheless, nobody has taken down any of the detour signs along Delinger or Dam 4 roads, and when the river is up, the towpath above the dam will need to be bypassed.



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2 responses to this post.

  1. Wowzer!!! That water must have been a swirling mass of tree limbs and branches. It’s amazing how powerful water is. The visuals say alot. Will they need to rebuild the towpath in the areas that were underwater?


    • Posted by LevelWalker on March 9, 2013 at 6:54 pm

      Great question! That area is under water several times a year, and flooding does tend to bring out the bulldozers and gravel trucks along the canal. It was actually fairly mild that day, but you never know…


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