Friday, February 20, 2015

Conococheague Creek Aqueduct to be Restored

Following on my post of yesterday, it seems that the National Park Service is planning to reconstruct the Conococheague Aqueduct in Williamsport, MD. 

I wanted to show you all a couple of photos I took yesterday near the Conococheague Aqueduct. This is basically a stone arch bridge that was filled with water--the Canal--to carry boats over a major tributary of the Potomac River, the Conococheague Creek.  

Think of a Roman aqueduct from the History Channel, only big enough to carry a long skinny boat.

Looking downstream across the aqueduct
Image credit Gary

Dozens of large wall stones, recovered from the creek
Image credit Gary

Seems that back in the early 1900s a canal boat struck the upstream wall of the aqueduct and toppled it into the creek.  The huge cut stones were recovered from the creek and placed in the dry canal bed just upstream of the aqueduct.  They've been waiting there for 100 years, now they'll get placed back where they belong.  This will be a very interesting project to follow.

The stones in the second picture convey no sense of scale.  They mostly are rectangular, about 2' x 2' x 3'.  In other words, a pretty significant chunk of stone.

Here is the long term plan, per the Herald Mail newspaper, 31 Oct 2014:

WILLIAMSPORT — The U.S. National Park Service is helping to breathe new life into an iconic national and Washington County landmark along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
Park service officials on Thursday announced the award of a design contract to a Virginia firm that will create the plans for a complete restoration of the stone-arch Conococheague Aqueduct, which last carried canal boats across the creek in the early 1920s.
"While we have photographs of boats going across aqueducts, no one living has ever actually boated across one" on the canal, said Kevin D. Brandt, superintendent of the C&O Canal National Historical Park. "... It's going to be a one of a kind experience here in Williamsport.”
The aqueduct project marks the next major project and final element to reinstate full canal boat operations in Williamsport, officials said.

Once completed in conjunction with several related projects, Williamsport will be the only place in North America where boaters will be able to ride over a watered aqueduct, under a railroad lift bridge and through a working canal lock, Brandt said.

This is waaaaay cool, from a canal geek!  And to think that you can run there, actually across the aqueduct!

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