Williamsport in Washington County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
At All Hours
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
— National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior —
It shall be their duty, at all hours, by night as well as by day, to pass all boats and floats presenting themselves at their locks.
Charles Mercer, President, C&O Canal Company
Every time his boat passed through a lock, a boat captain put his life and livelihood in the hands of the locktender. The wooden lock gates were a delicate balance between safety and efficiency. They had to be light enough to allow one man to move them, yet strong enough to hold back 140,000 gallons of water. A skilled locktender could judge and adjust the flow of water in or out of the lock to minimize the risk to boat and lock.
Locktenders were responsible for the safe operation and maintenance of liftlocks. Neglect or carelessness could mean disaster. In exchange for a small monthly salary, an acre of land and a house, locktenders heeded the horn blast of boatmen even at 2 a.m. or on Sunday. After all, time was money.
How A Lock Works
Lift locks and raised and lowered boats to overcome changes in elevation.
A boat heading downstream
The locktender opens the downstream paddles. Water flows out and the boat is lowered.
With water levels equal, the locktender opens the downstream gates. The mules are hitched and the boat moves on.
Erected by National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal series list.
Location. 39° 35.652′ N, 77° 49.518′ W. Marker is in Williamsport, Maryland, in Washington County. Marker can be reached from Main Street south of Canal Street, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 15952 Lockwood Road, Williamsport MD 21795, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Canal Home (a few steps from this marker); Lock 44 (within shouting distance of this marker); Honor Roll (approx. 0.2 miles away); WWII (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Bowie List (approx. ¼ mile away); River View Cemetery (approx. 0.3 miles away); Doubleday Hill (approx. 0.3 miles away); Light's Ford and Lemen's Ferry (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Williamsport.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 2, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 6, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 108 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 6, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.