Pilasters
Pilasters on the Conococheague Aqueduct

Aqueducts of the C&O Canal,
in order from Cumberland
to Washington (with some bridges, &c.,
thrown in for good measure)


These pictures of the aqueducts of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal were mostly taken in September 1999, during a three-day bike ride from the canal's western terminus, in Cumberland, to its eastern end, in Washington. The photographer thanks his travelling companions -- Goldie, Ben, Susan, Kelly, Karla, and Scott -- for being patient about the frequent stops.

For more information about canal structures and the canal itself, check out Thomas Hahn's informative Towpath Guide, available from the park service gift shop at Great Falls, and probably elsewhere. Much of the information below is taken from this invaluable book.

Evitts Creek

Evitts Creek Aqueduct
Completed about 1840. Single span of 70 feet. Mile 180.

Town Creek

Town Creek Aqueduct
That's Kelly inspecting what remains of the collapsed wall. Single span of 100 feet. Largely rebuilt 1977. Mile 162.

Town Creek again

Town Creek Aqueduct
Seen from the river side.

Paw Paw Tunnel

Paw Paw Tunnel
Upstream entrance. The 3,118-foot tunnel was constructed between 1836 and 1850, and was the last portion of the canal completed. Look closely and you can see the light from the downstream end. Mile 155.

Paw Paw Tunnel

Paw Paw Tunnel
Downstream entrance, photographed from the stone stairs leading up to a walkway across the top of the arch.

Paw Paw Gorge

Paw Paw Gorge
Leading to the tunnel's downstream entrance is a steep gorge excavated from mica formations. Mile 154.

Fifteen Mile Creek

Fifteen Mile Creek Aqueduct
A single-arch structure that has survived in relatively good condition. The arch spans 110 feet. Completed 1848 to 1850. Note the bulging stonework just above the arch. Mile 141.

Sideling Hill Creek Aqueduct

Sideling Hill Creek Aqueduct
A single span of 110 feet, completed in 1848. Mile 136.

Tonoloway Creek Aqueduct

Tonoloway Creek Aqueduct
A single span of 110 feet. Thomas Hahn, in his Towpath Guide, suggests that both parapet walls may have been removed while the canal was still in use, mostly likely because they were leaking. Wooden walls lined with concrete would have taken their place. Mile 123.

Tonoloway Creek Aqueduct

Tonoloway Creek Aqueduct
Seen from underneath, the aqueduct appears to be in perilous shape, although it was stabilized in 1979. The wooden structure in the upper portion of the picture carries the towpath.

Licking Creek Aqueduct

Licking Creek Aqueduct
A single 90-foot span. Constructed 1835 to 1839. Mile 116.

Dam No. 5

Dam No. 5
Originally built 1833 to 1835 of timber and stone. An all-masonry dam was begun in 1857. Mile 107.

Conococheague Aqueduct

Conococheague Aqueduct
Three 60-foot spans. Completed in 1834. Handsome pilasters -- the columnar ornaments rising between the arches -- survive on the river side. Mile 100.

Conococheague Aqueduct

Conococheague Aqueduct
The berm side of the aqueduct displays damage done in a 1920 accident in which Canal Boat No. 73 hit the wall and went through, landing in the creek with no loss of life but bringing the rest of the wall down with it. Instead of going to the expense of repairing so much stonework, the canal company built a wooden trough to carry boats.

Conococheague Aqueduct sign

Conococheague Aqueduct
On our second full tour of the canal, in September 2001, we discovered that signs like this have appeared at many aqueducts. The point is that you could all too easily ride your bike off the bumpy towpath side of the aqueduct and into the canal basin -- a nasty spill. On this aqueduct, of course, you could also ride your bike right off into the river.

Lift bridge

Railway Lift Bridge
A 1923 lift bridge carried Norfolk and Western trains over the canal here at Williamsport. Counterweights to lift the span are out of view to the left of Goldie and Kelly. Mile 99.

Bollman Bridge

Bollman Bridge
In Williamsport the canal also passes beneath this 1879 road bridge designed by Wendell Bollman, a noted bridge engineer. His best-known work was a handsome multispan bridge for the Baltimore and Ohio at Harper's Ferry, since replaced. Two spans of one of his bridges survive in Savage, Md., just off I-95 by the Savage Mill complex. Mile 99.

Antietam Creek Aqueduct

Antietam Creek Aqueduct
One of the handsomest aqueducts, and in remarkably good shape. The aqueduct is a three-span structure, 108 feet from abutment to abutment, with two smaller arches of equal size on either side of a larger center span. This is the view of the river side. Ben is taking a picture of Susan. Mile 69.

Antietam Creek Aqueduct

Antietam Creek Aqueduct
A view from the wing wall, with late-afternoon light streaming through the arches.

Harpers Ferry

Harper's Ferry
Ben and Susan walking their bikes across the railroad bridge at Harper's Ferry, followed by Scott and Goldie. One track has been replaced with a footpath. This bridge is the successor to the one built by Bollman, which was itself the successor to a wooden covered bridge. Mile 60.

Catoctin Creek Aqueduct

Catoctin Creek Aqueduct
Originally a three-arch structure, with smaller arches of equal size flanking a larger center span. The aqueduct was destroyed by a 1973 flood, except for part of the downstream arch, now largely overgrown. The towpath is carried on a Bailey bridge like those used in Europe toward the end of World War II. Mile 51.

Click here for an update on the Catoctin Aqueduct restoration project.

Monocacy Aqueduct

Monocacy Aqueduct
This 516-foot-long wonder is the longest aqueduct on the canal. Constructed from 1829 to 1833, it consists of seven 54-foot arches, and it was once counted among Maryland's proudest achievements. The hideous bracing, since removed, had been in place for nearly 30 years. Mile 42.

Click here for an update on the Monocacy Aqueduct.

Monocacy Builders Stone

Monocacy Aqueduct
Halfway across the span is a stone tablet listing the canal-company directors, the aqueduct's engineer, and its builders.

Broad Run

Broad Run Trunk Aqueduct
The canal crossed Broad Run a 30-foot-long wooden trunk that Hahn classifies as an aqueduct. It was originally a culvert -- a tunnel beneath the canal proper -- but when the culvert washed out it was replaced with the wooden trunk. The canal company, however, never counted it among the aqueducts. The surrounding stonework survives. Mile 32.

Seneca Creek

Seneca Creek Aqueduct
Originally this aqueduct consisted of three 33-foot arches, each rising less than eight feet above the river. Two of the red-sandstone arches remain, the third having collapsed in a September 1971 storm. It is also known as Riley's Lock, because the aqueduct and the adjoining lock were built as one structure. Pictured are Kelly, Ben, Susan, and Goldie, nearing the end of the ride. Mile 23.

See pictures of the 2000 Harper's Ferry ride.