Foggy Bottom in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
A Canal to the West - Tide Lock
For years it was a dream – a canal to open a trade route from local commercial centers to the rich Ohio country across the Allegheny Mountains. Business would thrive as mule-drawn barges carried wheat, furs, whiskey, livestock, and coal to bustling ports at Georgetown, Washington City, and Alexandria, providing a cheap alternative to overload wagon roads.
Begun July 4, 1828, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal was dug around dangerous Potomac rapids, through forests, mountains, and remote valleys, European canal engineering was copied when possible; new methods were developed when necessary.
But as the canal inched westward year after year, high construction costs, engineering problems and fatal epidemics among the workers plagued the project and the dream faded. By 1850, after 22 years of effort, the canal had reached only to Cumberland, Maryland, and the Allegheny Front mountains—185 miles from Georgetown, but only half-way to the Ohio River.
Construction stopped for good at Cumberland and the Canal Company simply struggled to survive. Major floods had crippled the waterway every decade or two and heavy damage by spring floods in 1924 finally ended commercial operations.
The Potomac River and nearby Rock Creek meet quietly here at Tide Lock.
Years ago, canal boats locked into Rock Creek from the C&O Canal about a half-mile upstream and then through Tide Lock into the bustling world of the Potomac waterfront. Coal, building stones, and other cargo were unloaded at busy wharves or transferred to schooners and steamships. A skirting canal along the river bank led to the Washington City Canal which followed what is now Constitution Avenue to wharves on the Anacostia River.
Though few signs remain of its heyday, the Georgetown riverfront once livened to the shouts of sailors, canallers, longshoremen, and the impatient braying of canal mules tethered near the present-day Thompson’s boat house.
Erected by National Park Service.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal marker series.
Location. 38° 53.981′ N, 77° 3.428′ W. Marker is in Foggy Bottom, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway NW 0.1 miles south of Virginia Avenue NW, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Located on the Rock Creek Park Trail. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20037, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers Herring Highway (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Benito Juárez Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); History Preserved and Adapted (approx. ¼ mile away); Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (approx. 0.3 miles away); The American Meridian (approx. 0.3 miles away); Georgetown Historic District (approx. 0.3 miles away); Philip S. Amsterdam Hall (approx. 0.3 miles away); Statue of St. Stephen Martyr (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Foggy Bottom.
More about this marker. In the center of Panel 1 is a map of the planned route of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal from Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh, PA.
On the left of Panel 2 is a "you are here" map showing the location of Tide Lock and the Rock Creek Basin. On the right is an illustration of, "The old Georgetown Waterfront, looking upriver."
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker.
Additional keywords. John F. Kennedy Memorial Center for the Performing Arts; Watergate.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Man-Made Features • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on September 15, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 19, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,049 times since then and 21 times this year. Last updated on September 8, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on February 19, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.