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“If you’re not moving, you’re standing  still.”


Steve Trafton

Trek from Washington DC to Pittsburgh

At milepost 156.4 the Western Maryland Railroad once again crossed over the towpath. Further on I passed Lock #67 (milepost 161.7). Milepost 162.4; the Town Creek Aqueduct, a single span aqueduct completed in 1850. Town Creek was considered to be a reliable source of water and a saw and gristmill operated here in the 1820s. Today the canal has been dammed up at this point, and is watered up to Oldtown by local fishermen.


I continued on the towpath to milepost 164.8, Potomac Forks. Here the Potomac splits into the north fork and the south fork. The canal continues on along the north fork. Lock #68 is also at this site. The lock channel has boarded up, and the canal water flows around through the bypass flume. The whitewashed frame lock house is of later construction and more elaborate than the spartan houses originally built for the keepers. The lock house and the lily pads in the canal make this one of the more memorable locks.

Milepost 166.7; the towpath passes by Lock #69 and 70 and comes to Oldtown. This marked the end of the long hard day, 25.8 miles. Steve met me here and we drove back to Little Orleans for another great meal and a restful night before the final leg of the trip to Cumberland.

The next morning Steve and I drove to Cumberland where I left my rental car at the towpath terminus before we returned to Oldtown. I invited Steve and Mary to join me in Cumberland that evening for a celebratory dinner as a thank you for all their help.

After bidding Steve good day I started off down the path. I almost immediately passed by Lock #71 (milepost 167) and at milepost 169.1 came to Pigman’s Ferry Campsite. From here the trail followed the river and the Western Maryland Railroad grade to the Spring Gap Recreation Area (milepost 173.3). It was here the George Washington crossed over to Western Virginia when he was just 16 and accompanying a surveying expedition in 1748. Then bridge over the canal was built in 1859 and burned by Confederate raiders on February 2, 1864, during General Jubal Early’s winter foray into the mountains west of the Shenandoah Valley. Operating with Early on this mission were cavalry under the command of Elijah White and McNeill’s Partisan Rangers.


At milepost 174.4 I reached “The Narrows,” where the canal squeezes between the river and Irons Mountain to enter the valley extending up to Cumberland. At milepost 175.7 I came to Lock #75, the last lift lock on the canal.

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