— Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park —
The "Potomack Canal," promoted by George Washington, was begun in 1785. Efforts continued until 1819. Work was resumed by the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company on July 4, 1828, continuing until 1850. Of an originally proposed 350 miles, 184 miles were completed. 74 lift-locks raised or lowered barges 605 feet. The canal has 11 stone aqueducts, 7 dams, and a 3,115-foot tunnel. It was built by workers from Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands and Wales.
The canal's peak year was 1871 when 850,000 tons were carried. As many as 540 barges, each carrying 120 tons, conveyed lumber, coal, stone, grain, flour and whiskey. Barges traveled 4 mph and made about 30 trips annually. A disastrous flood in 1889 nearly destroyed the canal. It was rebuilt and used until 1924.
The C. & O. Canal had cost $22 million. On the day its construction began, work also began on the B. & O. Railroad. The railroad rivaled the canal, reaching Cumberland, Maryland 8 years earlier, thus spelling its obsolescence.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal marker series.
Location. 39° 2.276′ N, 77° 15.31′ W. Marker is near Potomac, Maryland, in Montgomery County. Marker can be reached from Swains Lock Road. Touch for map. Located along the towpath of the C. & O. Canal National Historical Park. Nearest parking lot is at 10700 Swains Lock Road. Marker is 0.8 miles west of the parking lot. Marker is in this post office area: Potomac MD 20854, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. River Crossing at Conn's Ferry (approx. 1.4 miles away in Virginia); American Indians of the Potomac River (approx. 1½ miles away in Virginia); Lockhouse 22 (approx. 2.1 miles away); Gold Mining in Maryland (approx. 2.6 miles away); Washington Aqueduct (approx. 2.6 miles away); Great Falls Tavern (approx. 2.6 miles away); A Lift Lock (approx. 2.6 miles away); Boats Passing By (approx. 2.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Potomac.
Regarding Potomac River. Additional marker inscriptions:
The Potomac River
You are standing 176 feet above sea level, near the mid-point of the Potomac River, and on the intake
The Great Falls of the Potomac is 3 miles downstream from here, to the southeast. Little Falls is 11 miles downstream and the estuary, at sea level, begins 13 miles downstream. The distance to the mouth of the Potomac is 130 miles. The river's overall length, from source to mouth, is 382 miles.
Its average width from Harpers Ferry to Washington is 1,500 feet, except at Great Falls where it narrows to a 200-foot gorge. At its mouth, between Point Lookout, Maryland, and Smith Point, Virginia, the river is 11.3 miles wide. Its deepest known point is 107 feet, near Morgantown, Maryland.
The Potomac River Basin contains 14,670 square miles, less than a half percent of all the land area of the United States. Among American rivers that flow into tidal estuaries, it ranks 21st in amount of land area it drains, 25th in length, and 26th in the volume of water it carries. Its 14,670 square miles includes four states and the District of Columbia, as follows:
Virginia: 5,723 sq miles, 39.0%
Maryland: 3,818 sq miles, 26.0%
Pennsylvania: 1,570 sq miles, 10.7 %
District of Columbia: 69 sq miles, 0.5%
The C. & O. National Historical Park covers 17 square miles.
Categories. • Charity & Public Work • Industry & Commerce • Man-Made Features • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 3, 2012, by Patricia Strat of Oakton, Virginia. This page has been viewed 487 times since then. Photos: 1. submitted on December 3, 2012, by Patricia Strat of Oakton, Virginia. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on December 4, 2012, by Patricia Strat of Oakton, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.