Hanging out at Lockhouse 75 (Open from 10-4 on Saturday and Sunday from May 23–September 27, 2015)

Lockhouse 75 from between the lock and the bypass flume

Lockhouse 75 from between the lock and the bypass flume

I’ve always enjoyed volunteering at Lockhouse 75 once or twice every summer.  There are a number of people who do LH 75 duty who know a lot more about the C&O Canal than I do, but I think that I’ve developed into a fairly decent docent (pun intended).  On this trip, my new copy of Thomas Hahn’s Towpath Guide to the C&O Canal got me out of a few close calls with the Stumped Monster, and I would like to thank the Harpers Ferry Historical Association for doing a great job with the updated version (available at visitor centers all along the towpath).  I even pulled a few words and phrases out of the Glossary of Canal Terms and looked a whole lot smarter than I really am!

Lots of water everywhere!  Generally, there's just a trickle going through the lock.

Lots of water everywhere! Generally, there’s just a trickle going through the lock.

Today, however, was mostly about talking to thru-riders who were dealing with the horrendous weather the area has been experiencing for a couple of weeks.  I haven’t been to the renovated Big Slackwater section for a while, but I imagine everybody doing the big ride will be dealing with the dreaded detour for a few more days. The towpath above McMahon’s Mill is very susceptible to high water, but that’s over 80 miles downstream, so they may get lucky.  Most of the riders were going from Cumberland to Georgetown, but I did see two guys “heading upstream,” and their previous day’s saga had them biking 40 miles in a torrential, all-day downpour that spilled upwards to two inches on the region.

Between the flume and lock again and looking toward the West Virginia hills.

Between the flume and lock again and looking toward the West Virginia hills.

With the North Branch of the Potomac looking brown and angry, a handful of fishermen opted to try their luck in the small, watered section of the canal below the lock.  A young boy caught a few smallmouth bass and bluegills in the fresher-than-usual pool, and the waterfall heading into the lock made for a pleasant diversion in between visitors.

This replica canal boat is a model of Joseph Mose's  No. 27.  His son J.P. Mose made this  excellent scale model and dedicated it to the C&O Canal NHP.

This replica canal boat is a model of Joseph Mose’s No. 27. His son J.P. Mose made this excellent scale model and dedicated it to the C&O Canal NHP.

And this is how Mr. Mose's canal boat got through the locks.

And this is how Mr. Mose’s canal boat got through the locks.

In all, 48 people passed the lockhouse and 26 came inside to take a look around.  If I recall correctly, my first LH 75 duty was in 2012, and the displays and information have been greatly improved in that time.  This was my second–and last–trip to the lockhouse for 2015, but it would be great to spend another day or two there next summer.  I’ve enjoyed talking to the people who have walked or ridden down the towpath, and many were a great source of information themselves.

Butterfly weed near the parking lot directly acroess from the lockhouse.  The North Branch parking lot is closed during the railroad bridge construction.

Butterfly weed near the parking lot directly acroess from the lockhouse. The North Branch parking lot is closed during the railroad bridge construction.

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