Posts Tagged ‘Stickpile Tunnel’

Stickpile Tunnel…found!

We found this side first...the eastern portal of the tunnel can be soggy and difficult to access. Like the other end, it is blocked and entering from this side is definitely not recommended.

 

 

 

After last week’s failure and a grim weather forecast for today, we didn’t have high hopes for locating the Stickpile Tunnel. However, a good set of directions and a little bit of persistence generally goes a long way, and our latest attempt at finding the tunnel ended in success.

The key is to use Carroll Road as a marker, and a left turn onto Kasecamp Road led us to the eastern portal about 2/10 of a mile later.  From there, we turned around and found the western portal about a 1/2 mile in the other direction–near a large gravel pile.

 

 

 

The tunnel is in relatively good condition, but it would take a fair amount of work to make it ready for bicycle traffic. The same can be said for the rest of the proposed route for the Western Maryland Rail Trail extension.  The project will take lots of time and money, but even the most hardcore C&O enthusiasts can hardly wait for its sister trail to be extended.

View of the east end of the Stickpile Tunnel from Kasecamp Road

 

 

For those who are hiking or biking on the canal and are up for an adventure, simply follow the road out of Bonds landing and  take a left onto Kasecamp Road. We didn’t measure  the exact distance, but travel in this direction until you see a large gravel pile.  From there, a short dirt road leads to the tunnel (west portal).

 

In all, the Stickpile Tunnel and the Green Ridge area are well worth the trip, and sometime in the near future we would like to find the Kessler Tunnel and take a few pictures.  I guess we must have a thing for abandoned railroad tunnels.

 

 

 

Right around the bend from the east end of the Stickpile Tunnel, and a short climb up a hill is where you'll find a great view of Kasecamp Road, the C&O Canal, and the canal towpath.

The western portal of the Stickpile Tunnel is accessible from the C&O Canal via a short walk/ride down Kasecamp Road.

Inside looking out....western portal of the Stickpile Tunnel

Looking in....this picture shows the support beams on the inside of the Stickpile Tunnel. If you look carefully, you can see where some of the beams have been removed on both sides.

 

In Search of…Stickpile Tunnel

The rain has made everything green, green, green!

 

 

 

Today’s outing had an odd feel to it–kind of like an episode of In Search Of… I’m sure most people remember the old TV show, narrated by Leonard Nimoy, in which various investigators went looking for ghosts, goblins, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster. One could say that we had a similar journey today, and like most hunters of odd places and things, we came up empty handed. Heck, we didn’t even see Mr. Nimoy hiking on the towpath!

 

 

 

 

Anyway, if you’ll bear with me, here’s how our story begins. I had the bright idea of taking a hike on the C&O and finding the Stickpile Tunnel–an abandoned structure on the old Western Maryland Railroad. Armed with flashlights and misinformation, the trek began in Little Orleans.

The park service did a great job cleaning up the mess from the tornado this July. This uprooted tree and a few others are the only visible signs left.

 

Islands in the stream....ummm...river!(A great view of the Potomac River from the towpath.)

 

A perfect view on a perfect day!

 

Almost there?

 

 

I had read that the tunnel is located a scant 2.5 miles past the Fifteen Mile Creek Campground, so we walked to the railroad trestle just beyond mile marker 143 with the idea of backtracking our way to the tunnel. About two miles out, we passed another hiker and didn’t think much of it, but I’ll get to that later…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still trying to find Stickpile Tunnel...bum scoop...this certainly isn't it!

 

We took a few pictures of the trestle and headed back on a gravel road that marks the old railroad bed and the the future path of the Western Maryland Rail Trail. After about ten minutes, Candee looked down the road and said, “Hey, isn’t that Bill’s Place?”

 

This is a side shot of an old railroad trestle which someday might be part of the Maryland Rail Trail

 

 

I looked at her like she was crazy. We started at Bill’s and walked for forty-five minutes only to…what?…find ourselves where we started in precisely twelve minutes. As we were walking to our car, the hiker we passed earlier looked at us like he was in the Twilight Zone! How on earth had we passed somebody while heading in the opposite direction and then beat him back to the starting point?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, as it turns out the C&O Canal towpath follows the many bends of the Potomac River, while the old WMR took a straight shot through the Little Orleans area. That’s an easy explanation, and the hiker also set us straight in regard to the location of the Stickpile Tunnel. He stated that it’s located closer to Bond’s Landing, so we set out on the Oldtown/Orleans road and took a left on Mertens Avenue (about ten miles away) and headed for Kasecamp Road. By now, we had picked up an internet signal on our cell phones and “googled” what we thought was the location of the tunnel. We followed Kasecamp Road in a full circle and struck out completely.

Still can't find it...

 

Golf anyone? Wait! There's a fungus among us!

 

 

As I write this, I feel somewhat justified in spite of my failures. Christopher Columbus died a broken man who never found a sea route to India, and at least we DID bring back some pictures! (Check out this crazy mushroom!)

 

 

 

 

We consider ourselves to be C&O aficionados who are capable of finding anything in or around the park, but we found out today that this isn’t exactly the truth. The moral of this story is to get good information and keep a copy of the Boy Scout’s C&O Canal pamphlet handy. Otherwise, this is Rod Sterling, and I’ll see you in the Twilight Zone!

Until next week….