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Chesapeake, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Dismal Swamp Canal Trail

Interpretive Signage and Points of Interest on Dismal Swamp Canal Trail

 
 
Dismal Swamp Canal Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cynthia L. Clark, September 22, 2017
1. Dismal Swamp Canal Trail Marker
Inscription. (main legend, lower right corner) The Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, a former section of Virginia State Route 17, is now a multi-purpose, linear, nature trail and park traversing some of the most uniquely historic and ecologically significant habitats in the United States. Open to walking, bicycling, running, horseback riding and boating, the trail is also host to many events, activities, and festivals throughout the year.

The trail runs north-to-south for 8.3 miles along the Dismal Swamp Canal, which is also the eastern border of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Serviceís Great Dismal Swamp Refuge. An additional 2.5-mile trail connection leads north from the parkís North Trailhead to Deep Creek Park, between George Washington Highway and the Dismal Swamp Canal.

Open sunrise to sunset, the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail is marked every 1/4-mile, and provides a 16-mile bike loop or a leisurely 2-mile up-and-back nature walk with picnic facilities for the family. Restroom facilities are located at the Douglas Road intersection as well as the North Trailhead. Boat launching opportunities and parking are located at the Ballahack Road intersection and at the North Trail head. Spend a day or a couple of hours at this officially designated “Virginia Treasure.”

(left legend 1)
Great Dismal
Dismal Swamp Canal Trail Marker, looking south. image. Click for full size.
By Cynthia L. Clark, September 22, 2017
2. Dismal Swamp Canal Trail Marker, looking south.
Swamp National Wildlife Refuge
.
Across the canal lies the US Fish & Wildlife Serviceís Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1974 by an Act of Congress, the Refuge now protects over 112,000 acres. These lands are considered by scientists as the heart of the original ecosystem. Installed: North Trailhead

(left legend 2)
From Towpath ... to Highway ... to “Toe” Path The Evolution of the George Washington Highway. The walking path you are standing on right now has quite a history. It has had three lives, beginning in 1804. And, what was the connection to our first President? Installed: Milepost: 1.5

(left legend 3)
Outliers Between 1793 and 1814, the grueling, brutal job of digging this twenty-three-mile canal was done by slave labor. Dense underbrush, insects, venomous snakes and bears made the Great Dismal Swamp an “awesome and terrible place.” (Colonel William Byrd II, 1674-1744) Installed: Milepost: 3

(left legend 4)
Stone Mileposts along the Canal Haphazardly scattered on the ground and under the water along the east bank of the canal, huge monoliths of chiseled stone may be waiting to be discovered. Installed: Milepost: 3.5

(left legend 5)
Superintendentís House – From
Chessie, an enormous wooden bear. image. Click for full size.
By Cynthia L. Clark, September 22, 2017
3. Chessie, an enormous wooden bear.
This statue stands guard, mounted on a hedgehog, inside the yellow entrance gate at the beginning of the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail. Its sign reads: Ches A. Peake “Chessie.” Meet Chesapeakeís Black Bear.
Tolls to Tea
“All persons sending or carrying Boats, Goods, etc. through the Canal must not forget taking money with them to pay the toll.” Installed: Milepost: 5.25 – South of House

(right legend 1)
Experience Wildlife Many creatures living in the Dismal Swamp are elusive, so move slowly and quietly. Early morning and late afternoon are best to observe. Binoculars may help see them. And listen . . . you can hear a symphony of sounds in nature. Installed: Rest Area just south of North Trailhead

(right legend 2)
Birds Migrating birds often travel thousands of miles on the annual trip from their winter home to their summer home and back again. Over 210 bird species have been identified in the Dismal Swamp. More importantly, nearly half of those nest and raise their young here. Installed: Milepost 4

(right legend 3)
Mystical Waters Tea leaves stain the water in your cup; groundwater percolating through the Great Dismal Swamp is dyed by the peat soil it passes through. Why do you think sea captains in the 1800s coveted this water on their long ocean voyages? Find out at milepost 5. Installed: Milepost 5

(right legend 4)
Water Source Where does the water in the canal come from? After the canal was completed in 1805, due
Entrance sign to the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail. image. Click for full size.
By Cynthia L. Clark, September 22, 2017
4. Entrance sign to the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail.
to miscalculations, it could not function as a water route – it was lacking a continuous water source. Discover the answer – still in use today – at milepost 6.75. Installed: Milepost 6.75
 
Location. 36° 41.051′ N, 76° 21.634′ W. Marker is in Chesapeake, Virginia. Marker is on Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, on the right. Touch for map. It is at the end of the parking area. Marker is in this post office area: Chesapeake VA 23323, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Herring (Heron) Ditch (approx. 0.2 miles away); Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (approx. 0.2 miles away); From Towpath...to Highway...to "Toe" path (approx. 1Ĺ miles away); Outliers (approx. 3 miles away); Dismal Swamp Canal (approx. 3.3 miles away); Village of Deep Creek (approx. 4.4 miles away); Justin Holland (approx. 4.7 miles away); Glencoe (approx. 5Ĺ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Chesapeake.
 
Regarding Dismal Swamp Canal Trail. Sprinkled within the markerís legends are historical tidbits about the Great Dismal Swamp and Dismal Swamp Canal. It is also a welcoming mat to the home of the Superintendentís House (circa 1870), Herring (Heron) Ditch (WP-11) marker, North West Canal (WP-12) marker, and Dismal Swamp Canal-The Battle of South Mills marker.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Dismal Swamp Canal
 
Also see . . .
1. Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, City of Chesapeake, Virginia. (Submitted on November 18, 2017, by Cynthia L. Clark of Suffolk, Virginia.)
2. Dismal Swamp Canal at Learn NC. (Submitted on November 18, 2017, by Cynthia L. Clark of Suffolk, Virginia.)
 
Additional keywords. Ballahack Boat Ramp, Army Corps of Engineers Boat Ramp, Feeder Ditch, Lake Drummond
 
Categories. Man-Made FeaturesWaterways & Vessels
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 5, 2018. This page originally submitted on November 18, 2017, by Cynthia L. Clark of Suffolk, Virginia. This page has been viewed 101 times since then and 51 times this year. Last updated on March 1, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 18, 2017, by Cynthia L. Clark of Suffolk, Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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