Monday, August 4, 2008

Day 217 - Water and bikes

Today we took the boys to another park with more space for biking. There are about 2 miles of paths winding around the baseball, soccer, and football fields. Our outing ended on a sour note when Michael took a spill; only injuries were a scrape on his elbow and his ego (see Marianne's blog also).

Karen guessed my mystery photo with her theme for this week. This is the Monocacy Aqueduct which carried the C&O canal over the Monocacy River. This picture was taken standing in the bed of the old canal as it approached the aqueduct.

George Washington first proposed making the Potomac River navigable in the 1750's. The River has falls that make travel by boat impossible. Just upstream from Washington, DC the river drops 75 feet in about one-half mile. Initially, the plan was to construct five canals around the impassable spots. This helped, but was not adequate, so plans were made for a canal paralleling the river all the way to the Ohio valley. Construction of the canal began in DC in 1828 and reached Cumberland in 1850. Eleven aqueducts were built, with this one the longest, at 438 feet. Steel braces were installed to stabilize the structure after the flooding caused by hurricane Agnes. In the 1990's an effort began to restore the aqueduct. A partnership was formed to raise awareness and funds for the restoration. The restoration was completed in 2005.

The C&O canal is a National Historic Park stretching from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD. Parts of the canal still hold water, the towpath is open for bikers, hikers and runners, and there are scenic vistas and picnic areas. There are a lot of web sites with further information. See the National Park Service or McMullans sites for example.

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