Waste Weir (156.9)

Waste Weir at mile 156.9

Waste Weir at mile 156.9

The idea of photographing every structure along the C&O Canal is a daunting one. I think I can make a run at it with about ten more years and a few hundred gallons of gasoline, but this particular waste weir is definitely worth the trouble.

For starters, waste weirs are structures along the canal that were used to send excess water back into the river. Today, they are generally marked by a small cement bridge on the towpath, making them easier to spot than some of the better-hidden culverts.

This weir is unusual because this stretch of the canal sits well above the river, and the water once diverted from the canal plunged over a high rock directly below the gate and rapidly made its way to the Potomac. With a little bit of imagination, it’s easy to picture a pretty substantial waterfall just below the base of the canal. Unfortunately, the C&O is dry in this area, and any water exiting via the waste weir would be little more than a trickle. Nevertheless, seeing this structure fully is well worth the scramble over the bank.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by P. G'Dora Chase on November 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I am doing a study of the C&O Canal, and this waste weir picture is beautiful. Seeing this waste weir makes the study of the “Great National Project” more lively and meaningful. I went on a partial tour of the C&O Canal years ago, but I didn’t get a chance to actually study many of the sights such as this one. Thank you for posting this lovely picture.


  2. Posted by LevelWalker on November 19, 2013 at 4:50 pm


    Thanks for the comment. I wish you the best with your study! I started my canal journey as a biker with little concern for the structures I could see and no knowledge whatsoever of the ones I was pedaling over. Some of these hidden “treasures” are magnificent. The head of our volunteer group kind of turned us on to culverts, and they’re pretty amazing. He has collected photographs of all of them (roughly 162). Weirs may not be as pretty as the other structures, but they were absolutely essential in their day. There’s so much about the C&O to admire. It must have been spectacular while in operation!


  3. P.,

    I second everything Tom says about the canal. In addition, you will enjoy working through his blog. Tom does a great job of revealing the delights of the canal (and nearby areas) — and he does so with a wonderfully light touch! I must confess that although I enjoy the culverts, the waste weirs don’t do much for me.


  4. Posted by LevelWalker on November 19, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Thanks…and anybody wandering in can click on Jamie’s name after “posted by:.” His blog is very informative, but it add a lot of personal response as well. Great stuff!


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