Archive for the ‘Miles 1-50’ Category

Lockhouse 24, Riley’s Lock

Lockhouse 24, Riley's Lock

Lockhouse 24, Rileys Lock


Lockhouse 24 sits just downstream from the Seneca Creek Aqueduct. The lock and aqueduct were built as a single structure and completed in 1831. They were constructed of red sandstone quarried nearby.
Lockhouse 24, rear view

Lockhouse 24, rear view

Seneca Creek Aqueduct

Seneca Creek Aqueduct

Seneca Creek Aqueduct

The Seneca Creek Aqueduct is located at mile 22.8 of the C&O Canal, and it is noteworthy for a number of reasons. For starters, it is the first of the eleven aqueducts as one heads upstream from Georgetown toward Cumberland, Md. Also, the aqueduct is one of the few that sits beside a lock (Riley’ s Lock, number 24). The only other one I can think of is at Tonoloway Creek–feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. Finally, this aqueduct is missing the upstream arch, as one heads up the Canal. The arch has been replaced by a footbridge that connects it to the remaining arches.

The Seneca Creek Aqueduct is also a popular destination for boaters. It’s not uncommon to see power boats traveling under the arches, nor is it strange to see kayakers practicing Eskimo rolls where the creek meets the Potomac River.

Upstream view of Seneca Creek Aqueduct Upstream view of Seneca Creek Aqueduct

Broad Run Trunk (31.94)

Broad Run Trunk

Broad Run Trunk

The Broad Run Trunk is a unique structure that can be found by walking a little over a mile upstream from the Edwards Ferry parking lot. Originally, the structure was a two-arch culvert that was destroyed by a flood in 1846. Sometime later, a wooden trunk, or u-shaped trough was installed, creating what was essentially a wooden aqueduct.

Looking down the canal

Looking down the canal

This angle shows where the support beams and  a notch held up the  wooden trunk. From the edge, one can look down into a deep pool that now contains a surprising number of fish and other aquatic wildlife. In all, the Broad Run Trunk is a beautiful and unique structure that is easily missed on a bike. I’ve been over the footbridge several times, but this is the first time I stopped to appreciate what I’ve missed before. I wasn’t disappointed.

View from stream level

View from stream level

 

Lockhouse 25, Edwards Ferry

Lockhouse 25

Lockhouse 25, Edwards Ferry

Lockhouse 25 is located at mile 30.8 on the C&O Canal. According to Thomas Hahn’ s  Towpath Guide to the C&O Canal, the lockhouse was completed in 1831. In spite of its age, the house is part of the Canal Quarters program and is available for overnight rental.

The cost for an overnight stay is $100, and that seems like a bargain in spite of the lack of amenities. There may not be heat, electricity, or running water, but the lockhouse is a short drive from Poolesville, MD, and a short hike or bike ride in either direction leads to some of the more interesting sights along the Canal.

Besides the lock and lockhouse, Edwards Ferry also has river access at the boat ramp and  the remains of Jarboe’ s Store. The store closed in 1906, and very little is left of it. During our through-ride in 2009, a crew was dismantling the brickwork, and I’m not sure what the plans are for the current shell.  Nevertheless, this is an interesting area, and I plan on spending the night in the lockhouse next year.

Jarboe' s Store

Jarboe’ s Store

Bald Eagles of Great Falls

Photo Credit: Jason Lewris

The above photo is the culmination of a great day of bald eagle spotting.  On the Virginia side of Great Falls Park, we were fortunate enough to run into local photography enthusiast Jason Lewris, and his camera and steady hand produced this image of a huge nest on nearby Conn Island.  The small patch of white above the rim of the nest is the head of a curious female eagle who is guarding anywhere from one to three eggs.

A great day ended with an image we will always remember, but here’s how it began–on the Maryland side…

Candee and I received an email (about a week ago) stating that the National Park Service was offering a two hour bald eagle seminar at  Great Falls Tavern, followed by an opportunity to check out the nest on the island.  Bud Cline presented an excellent power-point presentation with a number of facts pertaining to the birds.  Did anybody know that bald eagles have a wingspan from 72-90″ and generally weigh anywhere from 10-14 pounds?  Likewise, their nests can be in the vicinity of 8′ wide and 13′ deep, weighing well over one thousand pounds!  Imagine a sub-compact car wedged into the limbs of a Sycamore tree!

Silly goose! We're looking for eagles!

 

Before Mr. Cline could set up his spotting scope, we had already checked out some geese and blue herons, but the truth is that we hadn’t seen anything yet.  With the scope on 25 power, we were able to see the golden beak and shining white head feathers of the female eagle.

Also, her mate performed a spectacular flyby over the nest, circling it several times before perching in a nearby tree.

 

Viewing a Bald Eagle on Conn Island

Before leaving, Mr. Cline informed everybody that a different (and perhaps even better) vantage point was available on the Virginia side of Great Falls Park.  We hopped in the car, and that’s where we were fortunate enough to meet Jason.  Bald eagles have been nesting on Conn Island for a number of years, so this isn’t a newsflash, but when the adults start to head out in search of food for the chicks (sometime in March), the result is sure to please bird watchers of all ages.

Great Falls, Virginia side