Posts Tagged ‘C&O Canal’

Ringing in the New Year

Meeting Place...

Each January 1st, the C&O Canal Association brings in the New Year with a hike in Cumberland, Maryland.  The temperature was a surprisingly warm fifty-three degrees, and nineteen people turned out for the walk.  After meeting at the mule statue in front of the railroad station, Mary Huebner led the crew downstream on the canal for approximately 1.5 miles.

All Show and No Go!



As the canal goes, Cumberland is a relatively urban setting.  However, in spite of the interstate and railroad traffic, the Queen City drew us back for the third year in a row.  In the sparsely populated areas of the C&O, one can walk for miles without seeing anything touristy, but Cumberland is…well…different.




After the mule statue and shops, the Cumberland (a replica canal boat) comes into view, and upon rounding the first bend, the trail offers and interesting look back at the Cumberland skyline.  The towpath plays host to numerous hikers, bikers, dogs (and of course their owners), runners, and history buffs through out the year, so being there on the first day of the year always starts us off on the right foot!


The Queen City


Walking in the New Year!


Cumberland has always been a transportation hub.  In the past, it was a major railroad town and marked the western terminus of the C&O Canal (Think canal boats and mules). Today, I-68 runs above the city, and The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and C&O towpath are hotbeds for hikers and bikers of all ages.  Oh, how the times have changed!




North Branch of the Potomac River--looking towards Cumberland

Near mile marker 183, a new wooden bridge crosses over the North Branch of the Potomac River.  The West Virginia side is the home of the Carpendale Tunnel.  At 1,500 feet in length, the tunnel is just long and dark enough to make things interesting.  Unlike many of the other tunnels on the towpath, this one is equipped with light posts approximately every 200 feet. (so it really isn’t scary at all!)  We have also read that there are cameras posted in there as well.  The path continues on the other side of the tunnel, but we aren’t sure how much further it goes.  I suppose that will be an adventure for another day.

This new bridge is part of the Carpendale Rail Trail connection to the C&O Canal towpath near mile marker 183

Tom is excited to see the tunnel! You can't really tell, but he's giving it two thumbs up.

View of the Carpendale Tunnel from the 'Other' Side





All-in-all, the bridge and tunnel is definitely a worthwhile diversion for towpath enthusiasts.





We have really enjoyed our New Year’s Day Hike tradition over the last few years, and barring all of the Mayan doomsday scenarios, we will be back again for 2013 hike.  All kidding aside, see ya at the mule statue next January 1st!

Heading Back!



Walking the Western Maryland Rail Trail Extension

We may be volunteers on the C&O Canal NHP, but we’re also avid bike riders who love the Western Maryland Rail Trail.  Like most people, we are looking forward to seeing the work on the proposed extension from Pearre Station to Little Orleans get started.  The bat gate at the Indigo Tunnel is the opening act of this process, and it has been finished.  However, the completion of the trail itself will be a long, arduous process.

Rock Slide!

A great view of the rock 'face' above the proposed WMRT




Recently, we took a walk on the old railroad right-of-way from Sideling Hill Creek to the Indigo Tunnel, and the trail offers a beautiful view of the Potomac River–even moreso than the C&O Canal towpath.

Fortunately (and unfortunately), this future stretch of the WMRT is also a geologist’s dream.  The high cliffs above the trail are striking!  I can’t say that I know much about rocks, but the story here is obvious, to say the least.





I'm not so sure I would want to ride under this! Would you?


The green leaves of summer hide a lot from the hikers and bikers on the C&O; however, the barren trees of winter no longer block the numerous rock slides on and above the old railroad path.  I’m no engineer, but the rugged cliffs above the future WMRT have an ominous look to them.  With that said, it will be interesting to see how the rail trail progresses.  The WMRT has the potential to be one of the premier rails-to-trails paths on the east coast, but this won’t happen without a lot of work.


View of the towpath and river from the future WMRT

Christmas on the Canal~2011

What a beautiful day!

My Christmas plans were about the same as any other year–you know, open a few presents and then lay around watching reruns of Man vs. Food the rest of the day.  Candee and her family, however, had other plans, so I was rousted out of bed early and headed for the C&O Canal.  I was kind of reminded of my pre-school days of watching The Electric Company on PBS.  This day was sponsored by the letter C:

Christmas, Candee, C&O, Canal…

Amazing Blue Sky on Christmas Day


Anyway, after packing up some drinks and sandwiches we headed off toward our usual parking spot at Pearre Station.  Yes, we’ve been spending a lot of time up there, and I promise to write about another part of the park soon.

Where was I…okay….got it.  We were greeted by a beautiful blue sky and temperatures in the mid-fifties, so the hike was both pleasant and comfortable.



Food For Our Fine Feathered Friends!


Candee strung up a decoration consisting or Cheerios, craisins, and popcorn so we could share the Christmas spirit with our furry and feathered friends.  She placed it on the fallen remains of her favorite Sycamore tree as we ate our lunch along the trail.  There are a few things in this life that I’m sure of.  For starters, everybody loves Christmas, and we love the C&O.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this turns out to be an annual tradition.  Either way, it will be a Christmas to remember.


Broken Tree Ornament?

The Mystery Machine

I wouldn't even want to walk across this old trestle for fear of falling through the rotten boards, and yet here sits a huge piece of machinery!





I admit to being a middle-aged Scooby Doo fan, but this mystery machine was and still is a mystery.  On December 18th, we went to Pearre Station for the start of our level walk, when we noticed a piece of heavy equipment sitting on the rickety railroad bridge over Sideling Hill Creek.  Let me put this in perspective:  I have never felt comfortable walking across the bridge, and I can’t imagine what the guy driving this machine must have been feeling.




I sent out an email to Steve Dean of the C&O Canal Association, and he came up empty.  Nobody seems to know what this thing was doing on the worn out bridge.  Apparently, the Western Maryland Rail Trail is still in the planning stage and no work is being done on the proposed extension.  Anyway, we went back on Christmas Day, and the machine was nowhere to be found.  I guess we’ll never know.


We couldn't believe our eyes!

Big Slackwater, Part II

Big Slackwater Project as viewed from West Virginia

Yesterday, we took a short hike upstream from Dam 4 in hopes of getting a closer look at the ongoing Big Slackwater Project.  We managed to a get a decent picture from a distance, so today we decided to find out what we could see from the West Virginia side of the Potomac River.  Much of the riverfront property along Whitings Neck Road is posted as private property, but it’s still possible to observe the equipment and progress that’s being made.

Great View of the Cliff meeting the River--of course, it's fun to look at the big equipment, too!

The cliffs are pretty vertical, and working on land is virtually impossible for this project.  The only way to approach the task is from the river on barges and pontoons, which makes the job a difficult one at best.  Since the start of the project, there have been several minor floods, which to be sure, makes the project even more difficult to accomplish.

We’re hoping to complete our third through ride next summer, and the prospect of seeing new scenery–and avoiding the detour–is very exciting.