“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Dickerson in Montgomery County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Springing Over the Monocacy

The Enduring Aqueduct

Springing Over the Monocacy Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, November 6, 2006
1. Springing Over the Monocacy
Caption reads The Monocacy Aqueduct, Harper's Weekly, 1861.
Inscription. Springing Over the Monocacy. Captain William McNeill of the U.S. Topographical Engineers called this aqueduct “...a work which, while it is highly ornamental, its plan and execution, ‘the true principles of economy, usefulness and durability.’ ” Much of that durability was the result of its design and construction.

Building the Monocacy Aqueduct required four years, 200 men, and thousands of tons of cut stone. Benjamin Wright, the canal’s Chief Engineer, designed the aqueduct and oversaw its construction.

Dissatisfied with the early work on the 516-foot aqueduct, he had the first three piers torn down and rebuilt with better stone. By 1833 it was completed.

As originally designed, it would have been very ornamental. Wright’s specifications called for a careful use of white and red stone to create a beautiful yet functional structure. Although the red stone was not used, the beauty, economy, and durability of the Monocacy Aqueduct remain.

Aqueduct No. 2, over the Monocacy River, is a very splendid work, built of a superior granite stone, resembling white marble. Seventh
Triple Marker Under Roof Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, November 6, 2006
2. Triple Marker Under Roof
Annual Report, C & O Canal Company, 1835.

(sidebar) Benjamin Wright (1770–1842) served as engineer on the Erie Canal before directing the construction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. He is regarded as the father of American Civil Engineering.

The Enduring Aqueduct. From 1833 until 1924 this aqueduct carried the C&O Canal over the Monocacy River. Thousands of boats, boatmen and mules, and millions of tons of coal and other cargo passed over this aqueduct. If you look closely you can see signs of their passage in wear marks on the stones and the iron rail posts.

The aqueduct endured despite nature's fury and man's best efforts. Floods roaring down the Monocacy washed ons of debris against the side of the aqueduct. Confederate troops tried twice to blow up the structure, failing both times.

Floods and changing technology eventually put an end to the C & O Canal Company and with it the boatman’s life. No longer part of an active transportation route, the Monocacy Aqueduct endures as a link to the past and a monument to the ambitions and hopes of those who built and worked on the C&O Canal.

The Monocacy Aqueduct,
The Enduring Aqueduct Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, November 6, 2006
3. The Enduring Aqueduct
Caption reads Freshets and floods, like this one in 1996, battered the aqueduct with debris.
a work of very solid structure...withstood the extraordinary ice freshets of the last winter and spring...
Fourth Annual Report, C & O Canal Company, 1832.

Preservation through Partnerships. Time, hard use, and the rivers all took their toll on the Monocacy Aqueduct. Its elegant appearance had been masked by steel braces installed to stabilize it after the 1972 Hurricana Agnes flood. Major floods and annual freshets continued to pummel the structure with debris. By 1994, seventy years after the canal had shut down, it appeared that floods and neglect would be the ruination of the stately structure.

Fortunately, an impressive coalition was formed to save the old aqueduct. First led by the C&O Canal Association and later joined by the American Society of Civil Engineers and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the partnership grew with the support of First Lady Hillary Rodham-Clinton, United States Senators Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski and United States Representatives Roscoe Bartlett and Connie Morella, as well as state, country and local officials. Working under the leadership of Park Superintendent Douglas Faris, the partnership developed
Preservation Through Partnerships Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, November 6, 2006
4. Preservation Through Partnerships
Caption reads In 1973 the National Park Service and the Federal Highway Administration installed steel braces to help stabilize the aqueduct.
a plan for preservation while the C&O Canal Association led the effort to raise both public awareness and restoration funds. It took eleven years but the partnership succeeded and the Monocacy Aqueduct stands today reborn for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.

(caption of missing photograph) On May 21, 2003, friends of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park gathered on the banks of the Monocacy River to rededicate the Monocacy Aqueduct, the most oustanding engineering achievement of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company.
Erected by Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal marker series.
Location. 39° 13.248′ N, 77° 27.006′ W. Marker is near Dickerson, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker is on Mouth of the Monocacy 1.3 miles west of Dickerson Road (Maryland Route 28), on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Dickerson MD 20842, United States of America.
Other nearby markers.
The Braces are Off Now that the Aqueduct has been Repaired Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, November 6, 2006
5. The Braces are Off Now that the Aqueduct has been Repaired
At least 5 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Monocacy Aqueduct (about 800 feet away, measured in a direct line); Chesapeake and Ohio Aqueduct (approx. 1.3 miles away); Historic Site [ B&O RR station] (approx. 1.5 miles away); Linden Farm (approx. 1.6 miles away); 1862 Antietam Campaign (approx. 1.7 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Dickerson.
Also see . . .  Benjamin Wright, 1770-1842 — Father of American Civil Engineering. Brief biography by Neal FitzSimons, Fellow ASCE. With portrait. (Submitted on November 24, 2006.) 
Categories. LandmarksMan-Made FeaturesWaterways & Vessels
Close Up of Marker Photo, Click for full size
6. Close Up of Marker
Caption reads The Monocacy Aqueduct is constructed of finished external masonry filled with rubble. Aqueducts carried the canal over streams like a bridge carries a road.
American Society of Civil Engineers Plaque Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, November 6, 2006
7. American Society of Civil Engineers Plaque
The plaque reads Maryland Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. C&O Canal designated by the Maryland Section, ASCE. Completed 1850. Commemorated 1998.
C&O Canal Monocacy Aqueduct Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, November 6, 2006
8. C&O Canal Monocacy Aqueduct
Monocacy Aqueduct Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, November 6, 2006
9. Monocacy Aqueduct
Bicyclists are riding on the canal bed that was once filled with water. The towpath walked by the mules towing the boats is the broad edge on the right.
Builder's Stone Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, November 4, 2006
10. Builder's Stone
The builder's stone is on the wall oposite the towpath, facing the towpath (see photo No. 9). The inscription reads Monocacy Aqueduct. Finished 1833. Ches. & Ohio Canal Co. C.F. Mercer, Pres't. J.J. Abert, W. Smith, P. Janney, A. Stewart, P. Lenox, W. Price; Directors. Engineers: Alfred Cruger, Principal; C.B. Fisk, Assistant; A.B. McFarlan, Inspector of Mansory. Contractors: M. Byrne, W. Byrne, S. Lothrop. P. Ingle, Clk. Clement Smith, Treasurer, Ches & Ohio Canal Co. On the bottom edge in small type are the words "Fred. Town," perhaps indicating that the inscription was carved in Frederick Town.
The Mouth of the Monocacy River Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, November 6, 2006
11. The Mouth of the Monocacy River
Photo taken from atop the aqueduct. The Potomac River is in the distance.
The Seven Arches of the Monocacy Aqueduct Photo, Click for full size
By Tom Fuchs, November 6, 2006
12. The Seven Arches of the Monocacy Aqueduct
For size prespective, notice the two people in the green and red windbreakers walking on the aqueduct's towpath in the center of the photo.
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. This page has been viewed 4,833 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.   6. submitted on .   7, 8, 9. submitted on , by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.   10. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   11. submitted on , by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland.   12. submitted on , by Tom Fuchs of Greenbelt, Maryland. • J. J. Prats was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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