Lock 44 near Williamsport
Several weeks later Byron and I returned to Williamsport. We had driven up from Washington and he was going to join me on the next leg of the journey along the canal to Hancock Maryland. We took my rental car to Hancock and then returned to Williamsport and started out day’s hike.
Just a short distance above Williamsport we crossed the Conococheague Aqueduct (milepost 99.6), a three arch, 210 foot span over Conococheague Creek. A portion of the aqueduct was knocked out by a canal boat heading up to Cumberland in the early morning of April 30, 1920. The water in the aqueduct poured through the hole, carrying the boat with it. Fortunately the captain’s son, walking with the mules, was able to cut the towline just in time to keep the mules from being dragged along with the boat in Cocococheague Creek. The boat lay in the creek long after the canal had closed, until it was finally carried away in the great flood of 1936.
At milepost 106.2 we passed the site of canal’s worst labor riot in January 1834. A party of men from County Cork Ireland were working on Dam #5 just upstream engaged in a heated rivalry, and had with the “Fardowners” from Longford who working near Dam #4 just below Williamsport. On January 16, some the men from Cork assaulted the Langford men, beating one of them to death. Eight days later, some 600 or 700 of the Longford men armed themselves with guns and clubs and marched up the canal to engage the Cork men. They found about 300 of the men from Cork waiting nearby. The Longford men quickly routed the Corkonians and pursued them through the woods. Witnesses counted “five men in the agonies of death,” and noted other dead and wounded in the vicinity. State militia and federal troops were sent to quell the riot, and the leaders of the two factions eventually met in a “peace conference” and signed a treaty pledging an end to attacks on other canal workers.
Feeder Dam Number 5, miles 106.8
At milepost 108.8 we came to the Four Locks (#s 47, 48, 49 and 50). These locks raise the elevation of the canal enough to enabling a cannel to be cut across Prathers Neck and avoid the long route which follows the river course.