Around Fort Frederick

Nobody's home.  Just me, Candee, and her shadow.

Nobody’s home. Just me, Candee, and her shadow.

Fort Frederick is about forty minutes from Martinsburg, but we haven’t visited it very often over the years.  This past Friday happened to be the perfect opportunity: we virtually had the entire place to ourselves.  We saw two or three cars and a ranger roaming around, but the hike was very quiet and relaxing.  Of course, that means the visitor center and the fort itself were closed, so the learning experience was all about a few tidbits we picked up on our own.

1936 Potomac flood high water mark

1936 Potomac flood high water mark

Heading down the road from the fort, this marker sits a few feet (in elevation) above the towpath.  Statistically, the 1936 flood topped out at 48.6′ in Williamsport, with  flood stage being 23′.  Looking around, it became obvious that the towpath would have been under several feet of water, while nearby Big Pool was totally engulfed by the river.  The C&O’s aqueducts were completely submerged, and structures such as culverts and waste weirs must have been under 20+’ of water.  This marker tells an interesting story because it’s not exactly a short hop down to the river from this point.  Upstream at Bonds Landing, the high water mark is located on a tree just above the boat ramp.  That one is a little bit more telling because you can actually look up at the tree and see how far under water you would have been.

Managed deer hunt on nearby state lands

Managed deer hunt on nearby state lands

This sign speaks for itself and serves as a warning for hikers and bikers on the C&O Canal towpath downstream from Fort Frederick.  We ran into a local man walking his dog, and he informed us that this hunt has been occurring annually for several years.   I’m sure the DNR has everything under control, but I would pick a different stretch to hike on those days.  Nevertheless, I have encountered duck hunters crossing the towpath on a couple of occasions (near Town Creek), and one time in particular they were conversing with a Maryland DNR officer.  I’m not too familiar with the laws, but apparently, seeing a hunter with an unloaded shotgun crossing the towpath isn’t always a cause for alarm.

Finally, Candee has a new favorite tree!  As you enter Fort Frederick State Park, bear to the right toward the visitor center.  Toward the bottom of a large clearing, there’s an amazing sycamore just off of the right side of the road.  There are many impressive sycamores along the towpath and Potomac, but this one loomed large with no other trees around.  I can’t say that I have a favorite tree, but this one is certainly on the short list.

Sycamore in Fort Frederick State Park

Sycamore in Fort Frederick State Park

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5 responses to this post.

  1. That is a cool Fort…… Always love a journey down history’s path. Talk about ‘Water’ that was a lot of water for sure. Hiking/Hunting that could get dangerous, but a bright orange vest on top of your hiking clothes should keep you pretty safe LOL.

    Reply

  2. Posted by LevelWalker on December 6, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    It’s a really nice fort–probably the best one locally. The high water mark is absolutely crazy. With the lake on the North Branch, it may not happen again. I sure hope not!

    I hope you’re doing well in Michigan. Whatever you do, stay warm!!!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Jamie on February 15, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    I drove into Fort Frederick yesterday and that sycamore is absolutely gorgeous. I can see why it’s Candee’s favorite! As you say, as soon as one turns right in the park, it is there. With the open field around it and the hills in the background, it almost takes the breath away. It’s rare to see a tree in a setting like that.

    Reply

    • Posted by LevelWalker on February 15, 2015 at 7:52 pm

      It’s an amazing tree. I have seen large, lone specimens in a couple of places, but this one is beyond cool. I’m glad you left a comment about your whereabouts. That means you’ll post something on the quest soon. I always enjoy that!

      Reply

  4. Posted by Jamie on February 15, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    You’re right. The post is written and will be proofread in the morning. The Mile-by-Mile is already up.

    Reply

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