Lock 27 (Spinks Ferry)

Lock and Lockhouse 27

As we finished our tour of the Monocacy River Aqueduct, everybody wanted to go on a hike along the canal.  Instead of flipping a coin, we deferred to the park’s interpretive signs and found the story behind Lock 27 to be interesting.  Located at mile 41.5, the lock is also a short distance from White’s Ford (mile 40), which was a shallow river crossing used by the Confederates during the Civil War.

Lockhouse 27--close up

Actually, this part of Maryland isn’t all that distant from such major Civil War hotspots as Antietam and Gettysburg, and there was a noteworthy event that took place on this section of the C&O Canal.  General A.P. Hill of the Confederate army was sent to destroy the Monocacy Aqueduct, but Lock 27 keeper Thomas Walter persuaded him to blast  the lock instead.  Enough damage was done to shut down the canal briefly, but in the long run, Walter’s persuasive efforts saved the canal company considerable repair and expense.  Walter was accused of conspiring with the enemy and lost his job, but his neighbors were so impressed by his efforts at saving the aqueduct that they backed his reinstatement.

The lockhouse is constructed of stone and is painted white.  It sits on the opposite side of the towpath from the lock, which was completed in 1833.  Below, there was a surprising amount of water in the canal to a point beyond the Dickerson Power Plant.  In all, it was a beautiful day for a hike, and the remaining snow and layer of ice on the canal added a nice touch to the scenery.

Frozen C&O Canal below Lock 27

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Did people at one time actually live on these sites manning the canals? So very interesting everytime I read something here.


  2. Posted by LevelWalker on January 10, 2013 at 7:20 pm


    Yes, many of the lockhouses were the living quarters for entire families. People lived in some of them for years after the C&O closed. Most of them are VERY small, and some are even available to tourists today. I always wanted to spend the night in a lockhouse.


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