Most people who spend any time along the C&O Canal have favorite spots. Some of the usual include Great Falls, the Paw Paw Tunnel, the Monacacy Aqueduct, Canal Place etc. However, for some reason I have always been drawn to Lock House 37. Maybe it’s the well-kept front yard, or that fact that it sits a bit further back from the lock and canal than many of the other lock houses. Whatever it is, I always seem to stop in front of it and enjoy a bottle of water. In spite of the boarded-up windows, it just has an inviting look to it.
The lock is also known as the Mountain Lock, and it sits near mile marker 67. This makes it a great turn-around point for hikers starting at either the Antietam Aqueduct (mm 69.3) or Dargan Bend Recreation Area (mm 64.9). Likewise, it is seven miles upstream from Harpers Ferry, which makes it a good place to rest in the middle of a 14 mile bike trip. In fact, the house seems to be right in the middle of everything, as it’s close to places of interest such as Antietam Battlefield and Shepherdstown as well. The lock house does have a remote feel to it, but it’s actually available by road, and I’ve often wondered if the NPS has any plans to add Lock House 37 to the list of houses that are available for overnight lodging.
As usual, Candee and I did a little bit of exploring today, and that’s how we found our way into the lock house by car–by Jeep actually. From the canal parking area across the river from Shepherdstown, we took Harpers Ferry Road to Limekiln Road and turned right onto Mountain Lock Road. After passing a few houses, there was a rough, washed-out section heading down hill to the lock. There were a couple of spots where having a Jeep was pretty handy. Nevertheless, finding access to one of the C&O’s (almost) forgotten treasures was well worth the trip, and I encourage everybody to hit the dirt roads whenever possible.