Archive for the ‘Locks & Lock Houses’ Category

Picking Up Trash on Level 57 aka Twigg Hollow

Lock 63 1/3



Volunteering in a national park can take a person to some out-of-the-way places, and the Twigg Hollow section of the C&O Canal NHP doesn’t tend to get many visitors–in spite of its close proximity to the popular Paw Paw Tunnel.



View of the towpath just south of Lock 63 1/3

Traditionally, Level 57 starts at Lock 61 and ends at Lock 63 1/3, but, as usual, we do most things backward, and this isn’t any different!

No peepers this time!



This isn’t our ‘official’ section to pick up trash, but when did the walk in May the canal was filled with water and a plethora of frogs and ducks. What a difference a few months makes! This time around, the canal bed and the stream at Gross Hollow were bone dry, but beautiful just the same.



Gross Hollow Culvert


The Gross Hollow Culvert generally allows a fast-flowing mountain stream to pass underneath of the canal. It is a brick-lined structure that looks like the Paw Paw Tunnel in miniature from the inside. Hikers and bikers tend to either walk or ride past many interesting structures, and I would recommend a guide book to anyone who wants to get the most out of a trip down the canal.

Check out the 'shroom'!

Do I really have to climb down there to pick up a lousy yogurt container?

'Plain Yogurt? Do people really eat this stuff or do they just like throwing it in the canal?'






After a hike of about 1.5 miles, we reached our destination at Lock 61. We didn’t have much trash to show for our effort, but sometimes that’s a good thing–it shows that most visitors enjoy their outings without making a mess out of the scenery.






Not much trash on Level 57! Fourteen pieces to be exact!


Cushwa Basin to the Big Slackwater Detour

Once again, we decided to stay close to home while preparing for the 184.5 mile bike ride coming up in June. It’s funny how we usually explore the more remote parts of the C&O and steer clear of the more used and populated areas. So…why bike from Williamsport to the detour? The truth is that there are a couple of ongoing attractions occurring locally, the first of which is the canal boat that was recently placed in the pond at Cushwa Basin. Honestly, expected to see something that resembles the Georgetown or Canal Clipper, but the small passenger boat wasn’t disappointing. Hopefully it will be available for rides at some point.

A New Addition

Moving down the trail, Lock 44 is a well-preserved canal structure. Many of the old locks and lock houses are shells of what they once were, but anybody who wants to see what the canal looked like in bygone days can do so by taking a quick hike around the Cushwa Basin area.

Lock House at Lock 44

Lock 44

A few miles down the trail we encountered a unique historical sign relating events that occurred near the canal during the Civil War. The Potomac is a big and dangerous river, but apparently the Falling Waters area made for a good crossing point for the retreating Confederate army.

History on the Trail.

A Little Bit of Light Reading Along the Way!

Finally, we reached the detour area with great anticipation. We planned on riding to McMahon’s Mill, in hopes of catching a glimpse of the work being done to replicate the old towpath. Unfortunately, the trail is presently closed about a mile short of the mill, but we did gather some information from a volunteer at the Williamsport Visitors Center. Apparently, a lot of heavy equipment is being staged in the area, and travel beyond that point is both dangerous and a nuisance to the workers. Meanwhile, a lot of C&O Canal NHP visitors will wait with great anticipation for the completion of the Big Slackwater project, which should be during the summer of 2012.

End of the Line!

Snyders Landing to Dam 4~7.62 Miles

Our Starting Point...

Snyders Landing might be a few miles away from Martinsburg, but we’ve never really spent much time in this section of the C&O Canal NHP. The more remote parts of the park always seemed to have more to offer, but over the past couple of days, we have rediscovered a lot of what this area has to offer.


Heading upstream, the first thing that meets the eye is the remains of Lock 40. During the Spring months, the old lock plays host to numerous frogs and their offspring. However, the most interesting part of stopping at the lock is seeing an intact root cellar of sorts that sits approximately fifty yards to the right of the lock. Naturally, it was full of water from the recent rain, but just seeing a structure from a bygone age was more than we expected. Be sure to look closely because it’s really well hidden!

A nice place to stop...Lock 40

I loved how the sunlight streamed through the opening!

Look what we found behind Lock 40!

View from the Towpath

After riding for approximately 7.62 miles, we came to Feeder Dam 4. The first thing you’ll see from the towpath is the winch house. I’m not sure of the exact purpose of this structure, but when the canal was still operating, it ended at this point and resumed about three miles upstream. Known as the Big Slackwater, canal boats were transferred to the Potomac, and the mules that powered the barges walked along the river bank between the dam and McMahon’s Mill. What does this mean to the modern biker/hiker? Well, since the old path was destroyed by a flood many years ago, the only way to McMahon’s Mill is over 6 miles of relatively heavy-traveled windy paved roads. Trust me, it’s not fun.

Checking the bikes...

Dam 4

View from the dam

However, the most impressive sight at Dam 4 is the Potomac River. When the water is high, it’s a big, intimidating body of water plunging over a high wall. Very impressive! After taking in the sites, it was time to return to Snyders Landing. It turned out to be a great day, and we will certainly explore this section of the park sometime soon!