What’s in a name?: Falling Waters

Falling Waters isa name that pops up on both the West Virginia and Maryland sides of the Potomac a few miles below Williamsport, Md.  Here's why!

Falling Waters is a name that pops up on both the West Virginia and Maryland sides of the Potomac a few miles below Williamsport, Md. Here’s why!

I’ve always been fascinated with place names, and, locally, I’ve been intrigued with the name “Falling Waters” for a number of years.  First off, there’s a small town by that name between Martinsburg, WV and Williamsport, Md. on Route 11.  Secondly, on the Maryland side, there is a Falling Waters hiker/biker campsite on the C&O Canal.  But why?  As I’ve biked the towpath in that area, I’ve never seen any waters actually falling on the Potomac.

Landmark sign

Landmark sign

Instead, the “falling waters” are on the West Virginia side, as a small Potomac tributary drops approximately 20-25′ right above its merger with the river.  There were two Civil War battles fought in the area (July 2, 1861 and July 14, 1863), and the skirmishes, like the town in West Virginia and the hiker/biker campsite in Maryland, were both named after the “falling waters” pictured above.  The reason for the battles being named after Falling Waters is that the Federals tended to name engagements after natural landmarks.  I’ve lived in Martinsburg for 21 years, but I had no idea about any of this until a couple of weeks ago.  I need to get with it!

And a little bit of the local Civil War history!

And a little bit of the local Civil War history!

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by LevelWalker on November 24, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Thanks to my co-worker Chris Fink for letting me in on this bit of information.

    Reply

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