Lockhouse 72 (The Narrows)

This is one of my favorites!

This is one of my favorites!

Lockhouse 72 is located at mile 174.44 of the C&O Canal, and it is easily spotted from Maryland Route 51.  This area of the C&O is known as The Narrows, and that’s because the canal and towpath are jammed between the river and the end of Irons Mountain.  The easiest access to this lock/lockhouse is a short hike of 1.07 miles upstream from Spring Gap.  Route 51 can have a fairly heavy traffic flow, but the noise pollution doesn’t detract much from what is otherwise a very scenic area.

The rear, or upstream, end of the lockhouse

The rear, or upstream, end of the lockhouse

Lock 72 is also known as the ten-mile lock because it is almost exactly ten miles (as the towpath goes) from here to the western terminus in Cumberland.  Those ten miles are a unique mixture of woodlands, farms, and residential property, while the stretch below the lock eventually turns into some of the more secluded miles of the towpath.  I haven’t done much hiking in the vicinity of Lock 72, but I have biked there several times.  The funny thing is that I don’t remember hearing any traffic, even though The Narrows is literally a stone’s throw away from the road.  I have long-since learned what a hiker sees that a biker misses!

Lock 72, downstream end

Lock 72, downstream end

I could ramble all day, but I suppose even a picture taken at twilight speaks a thousand words.  In the background, it’s easy to see how the tail end of the mountain tapers off and leaves the canal in a tight spot.  Also, if you look closely the guard rail is evident at the top of the bank.  We had to hold off on a couple of pictures because of cars passing through the shot.

Finally, I’ll leave you with an odd porthole on the upstream (rear) side of the basement.  It is slanted toward the towpath, and Candee surmised that it may have been used for firing a rifle in the event of an attack.  The area did see quite a bit of action during the Civil War, and her guess is better than anything I had.  If anybody has a better idea, I would love to hear it!

Pointing toward the towpath at a slight angle

Pointing toward the towpath at a slight angle

 

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