We usually attempt to take a hike on the C&O every Sunday, and as a rule we try to mix it up a little bit–in hope of eventually doing a decent job of covering all 184.5 miles. Today, however, Mother Nature dumped about 5″ of snow on the Martinsburg, WV area, and there were expectations for a freezing rain to follow. Honestly, today just felt like the perfect opportunity to catch up on a couple of football games and a little bit of light reading. I work outdoors, and the idea of slogging through the slop for seven hours tomorrow left me cold (literally) as far as getting a little bit of fresh air is concerned. I’m bored at the moment, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to ramble and burn a few old pictures that weren’t used in previous posts. The waste weir with the hanging ice kind of works in this situation. Waste weirs, by the way, come in two varieties–the really nice masonry type and the generic ones made of concrete.
This bridge abutment looks pretty innocuous, so I was surprised to see that Thomas Hahn devotes a really large paragraph to it in his Towpath Guide to the C&O Canal. The corresponding span was known as Patterson Creek Bridge, and it was burned down on May 30th, 1861. Hahn states that a mob performed the task under the authority of Virginia troops. It seems like a horrible waste of history, but today this stone monument marks the point where those interested can take a turn toward the river and see where Patterson Creek enters the North Branch of the Potomac (on the West Virginia side). At the very least, this abutment is a nice piece of masonry work, and a little bit of research revealed the interesting story behind it. Rumor has it that the Harpers Ferry Historical Society is updating Hahn’s book, and I’m definitely going to keep everybody posted if that happens. To call it invaluable is an understatement!
This is a really nice piece of work, but I really can’t tell you exactly what it is. I can’t even tell you exactly where it is, other than to say that it’s (bear with me on this one) on the berm side of the canal prism somewhere in the vicinity of Purslane Run. Wow, that was a mouthful! My excuse for being such a slacker is that Candee and I were doing a volunteer walk in the area on November 24th, and the temperature was 26 degrees–with high winds. I wasn’t exactly in the mood to take my time out there… Okay, I’m a slacker. I didn’t even bother to go to the other side of the bank to have a look! The location is kind of ambiguous, and it’s hard to tell if it belongs to the history of the canal or that of the railroad. Naturally, I fell back on Thomas Hahn for an answer, but he doesn’t mention it. One clue is that the opening doesn’t seem to be going all of the way through the embankment. I have a really good source checking into this, but I would definitely appreciate it if a canal history buff happened across this post and could give an answer. My knowledge of most things C&O is pretty good, but you have to remember that for years I was a wandering biker who didn’t care about anything other than the next place I could buy a sandwich and a bottle of water. Bad excuse, right?