MD -- C&O Canal NHP -- Mile 42.2 -- Monocacy Aqueduct:
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- AQUE_120528_002.JPG: The Enduring Aqueduct:
From 1833 until 1924 this aqueduct carried the C&O Canal over the Monocacy River. Thousands of boats, boatmen and mules, and millions of tons of coal and other cargo passed over this aqueduct. If you look closely you can see signs of their passage in wear marks on the stones and the iron rail posts.
The aqueduct endured despite nature's fury and man's best efforts. Floods roaring down the Monocacy washed ons of debris against the side of the aqueduct. Confederate troops tried twice to blow up the structure, failing both times.
Floods and changing technology eventually put an end to the C & O Canal Company and with it the boatman's life. No longer part of an active transportation route, the Monocacy Aqueduct endures as a link to the past and a monument to the ambitions and hopes of those who built and worked on the C&O Canal.
The Monocacy Aqueduct, a work of very solid structure...withstood the extraordinary ice freshets of the last winter and spring...
-- Fourth Annual Report, C & O Canal Company, 1832.
- AQUE_120528_012.JPG: Springing Over the Monocacy
Captain William McNeill of the U.S. Topographical Engineers called this aqueduct "... a work which, while it is highly ornamental, unites...in its plan and execution, ‘the true principles of economy, usefulness and durability.' " Much of that durability was the result of its design and construction.
Building the Monocacy Aqueduct required four years, 200 men, and thousands of tons of cut stone. Benjamin Wright, the canal's Chief Engineer, designed the aqueduct and oversaw its construction.
Dissatisfied with the early work on the 516-foot aqueduct, he had the first three piers torn down and rebuilt with better stone. By 1833 it was completed.
As originally designed, it would have been very ornamental. Wright's specifications called for a careful use of white and red stone to create a beautiful yet functional structure. Although the red stone was not used, the beauty, economy, and durability of the Monocacy Aqueduct remain.
Aqueduct No. 2, over the Monocacy River, is a very splendid work, built of a superior granite stone, resembling white marble. Seventh Annual Report, C & O Canal Company, 1835.
Benjamin Wright (1770–1842) served as engineer on the Erie Canal before directing the construction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. He is regarded as the father of American Civil Engineering.
- AQUE_120528_030.JPG: Monocacy Aqueduct
Too Tough To Crack
Antietam Campaign 1862
Confederate Gen. D. H. Hill's division crossed the Potomac at Point of Rocks on September 4, 1862, and marched south to clear Union forces from the area. His men breached and drained the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal at several places, burned canal boats, and damaged the Spinks Ferry Lock (Lock 27) south of here. They also breached the Little Monocacy Culvert but did not have enough tools or spare gunpowder to damage the vital Monocacy Aqueduct.
On September 9, Confederate Gen. John G. Walker's division spent several hours attempting to destroy the aqueduct, but were stymied by its "extreme solidity and massiveness." They camped near Licksville the next day and set off for Point of Rocks in the evening, after being surprised by the advance of Union forces under Gen. Darius N. Couch. The Federals deployed artillery near here to defend the aqueduct and Cheeks Ford.
Spinks Ferry lockkeeper Thomas Walter had been employed by the canal company since 1839. When Hill's division arrived, he pleaded with Gen. D.H. Hill not to destroy the aqueduct or lock, arguing that the Confederates could more effectively disable the canal by breaching earthen banks rather than masonry structures. Witnesses reported Walter became so heated they feared his arrest. These actions likely saved the canal company thousands of dollars, diverting destruction to more readily repairable areas. Walter was removed from his job for "collaborating with the enemy," but a petition from Walter's neighbors led to his reinstatement and recognition for protecting key canal structures.
- Wikipedia Description: Monocacy Aqueduct
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Monocacy Aqueduct is the largest aqueduct on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, crossing the Monocacy River just before it empties into the Potomac River in Frederick County, Maryland, United States. The 438 foot (133.5 metres) aqueduct, often referred to as C&O Canal Aqueduct No. 2, was built by three separate contractors between 1829 and 1833 at the cost of US$127,900.
The first contract was awarded to Hovey and Legg in August 1828, which began work in 1829. The contract was next awarded to Asher Osbourn, but by the end of 1830, it was in the hands of Byrne and Lebaron.
During the American Civil War, the Confederate army twice attempted to destroy the aqueduct during the 1862 Antietam campaign. However, the soldiers were unable to drill enough holes into the hard stone to place enough explosives to breach the aqueduct.
The aqueduct is part of the C&O Canal National Historic Park and is administered by the National Park Service.
Following the damage to several canal structures caused by Hurricane Agnes and other flooding incidents in the early 1970s, the park service constructed a wood and steel support structure to help stabilize the Monocacy Aqueduct. This structure is credited with helping the aqueduct survive floods in 1985 and 1996, but it was considered an eyesore and, beginning in 1995, fundraising began to help restore this section of the canal to its 1833 appearance. The restored aqueduct was rededicated on May 21, 2005.
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