Archive for the ‘Williamsport, MD’ Category

Watering Williamsport

This is news to me!

This is news to me!

During a short walk upstream fro Williamsport, I noticed all of the stones is the canal prism, but I didn’t think much about it.  However, this sign made me stop and ponder the possibilities: what exactly is “the design of the Conococheague Aqueduct?”  I’ve heard stories for a couple of years about watering the aqueduct, but the missing upstream wall is a major problem. That’s when the light bulb came on: hence, the large, squared stones in the prism.  Sometimes it takes me a little while to grasp a concept…

Stones in the canal prism!

Stones in the canal prism!

Actually, the project is a combined effort between the Town of Williamsport and the National Park Service.  Williamsport is already one of the most visited spots along the canal, but adding a mule drawn boat that goes over a creek, underneath a railroad bridge, and through a lock would be a tremendous boon for both the town and the park.  Such an upgrade would bring in an estimated 100,000 additional visitors, who would spend $1,8 million.  Spread that over a year, and you’re looking at 274 more people a day, and they would spend about $4900 Per Diem.  That’s a lot of Desert Rose sandwiches, Tony’s pizzas, and souvenirs at the visitor center, etc.  Needless to say, the “wow factor” would be as important as the revenue.  The project is slated to be finished in the summer of 2016, and I can guarantee that if the NPS and Williamsport build it, people will come.

Getting the aqueduct's "good" side

Getting the aqueduct’s “good” side

A Little Help From Some Friends

Concrete waste weir (98.92)

With its length of 184.5 miles, the C&O Canal is an absolute monster to explore.  Candee and I have biked the entire length of the trail twice and done short trips and hikes that have covered the towpath several times over.  Nevertheless, along the way, we have managed to miss virtually everything.  With this in mind, I recently purchased Pocket Guide to the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, by Gary M. Petrichick.  This is a tiny book that will easily fit into the palm of your hand, and it is a list of all of the structures along the canal–with room on the opposite pages for personal notes.  The picture above is a waste weir.  There are several on the canal, and back in the day they were used to either re-direct excess water back into the Potomac or to drain the canal when repairs were necessary.

Underneath I-81 (98.5)

I purchased the book at the Williamsport Visitor Center, and we immediately took it out for a hike.  It’s amazing what a new resource can do in regard to making an old hike new again.  Likewise, I have recently learned that the C&O Canal Association has posted a list of access points along the canal on their website (www.candocanal.org).  It is an interactive resource with links to Google Maps that also gives GPS coordinates for the access points.  Also, there is a brief description of the available parking spaces.  For example, there may be numerous spaces at Spring Gap or McCoys Ferry, but parking is very limited at the end of Mile Marker Lane or Pearre Station.

Railroad bridge abutment (97.44) with Conrail trestle (97.54) in the background

The possibilities for using multiple resources together are numerous.  One can literally print a map to a desired parking point along the canal, pack up the car, and head out for a great hike or bike ride in either direction.  Take along Petrichick’s booklet, and the days of walking or riding past hidden history are over.  There are 184.5 miles of culverts, waste weirs, and other structures to be discovered.

Culvert 127 (97.85)

Conococheague Creek Aqueduct

Front view

The Conococheague Creek Aqueduct is a 210′, 3 arch structure that was completed in 1834.  Heading upstream from Georgetown, it’s the fifth of the eleven aqueducts and is located near mile marker 99 in Williamsport, Maryland.  The Cushwa Basin area is a popular destination for hikers, bikers, fishermen, and historians, and when the weather is nice, it’s common to see a full parking lot.

Fishing the debris

Conococheague Creek is the second largest tributary entering the Potomac on the Maryland side between Cumberland and Georgetown.  Due to this, the Conococheague Creek Aqueduct has the same major problem as the Monocacy Aqueduct–debris.  Logs and trash aren’t much of an issue at any of the single-arch structures, but where there are arches, there”s bound to be loads of flood materials.

Conococheague Creek Aqueduct side view

Being at the junction of two large streams, the aqueduct has taken quite a beating over the years, and not surprisingly, the upstream wall is missing.  In 1920, it collapsed with a boat in the aqueduct–which fell into the creek–but luckily nobody was injured.  Nevertheless, the aqueduct still draws a crowd, and there has been talk of placing a wooden trunk inside of it so that this section of the canal can be watered once more.  That would allow the C&O to look much as it did between 1920 and 1924 and enable the NPS to offer rides in small, electric-powered boats.  That project is somewhere down the road, and it’s sure to make Williamsport an even more popular destination.

Upstream view at dusk

Tony’s Pizza Time Cafe

 

It's worth the walk! (or ride!)

 

If you’re biking the entire length of the C&O Canal towpath, then you’re sure to be hungry when you pass through the Cushwa Basin area of Williamsport.  If you’re in the mood for Italian food, you’ll find delicious pizza (and a loaded menu) less than 4/10 of a mile away from the C&O Canal Path visitor’s parking lot.  True, you have to come up a slight hill, but the effort will be well worth it!

 

Come out of the parking, head up the hill (West Potomac Street), and turn right onto Conococheague Street. Tony’s Pizza Time Cafe will be on the left-hand side on the next corner.  While perusing their menu, make sure to look for Crazy Tony’s Pizza-topped with bacon cheese fries, ranch dressing, with cheddar & mozzarella cheese.