Bicycling & Photographing the C&O Canal
A couple of weeks ago I acquired a bicycle. I have been thinking about getting one for a while because I thought it would greatly increase my range of exploration of the C&O Canal, a subject of my fascination for several decades. I mentioned this to a friend who said that he had a bike he was not using and would I like to have it. Thanks to this generous offer, I could no longer drag my feet about whether or not to get a bike and accepted it as a long-term “loan”.
I have been out several times now and I am loving it. After my first tentative outing and a change to a more rear-end friendly seat, I am averaging something over 10 miles per trip and I have covered sections of the Canal that I have never been able to reach on foot.
One section was from Williamsport to Dam 5, a run of a little over seven miles. I was very glad not to have to try to walk it because it is a long stretch of very little by way of interesting features. Basically it’s a path through the tunnel of trees for most of the seven miles.
Nearly four miles into the trip I spotted an old house off in the trees on the berm side of the canal.
Then about a mile further down, the one surprise of the trip. In the middle of nowhere, a large bridge pier was sitting by the side of the towpath.
Looking through the trees I could make out additional piers in the river going across to the West Virginia side. Looking around on the web I discovered that this was from a railroad bridge (the Nessle Bridge) that was washed out in the flood of 1936.
Finally, my goal: Dam #5.
The dam was originally built to feed water to the canal. It is still used by Potomac Edison to generate power, the generation plant being on the West Virginia side of the river.
By the time I got back to Williamsport I had done almost 15 miles on the bike. A pretty good trek for only my second time out, especially since it had been nearly 20 years since I had ridden a bicycle any amount. This trip proves that I can still do it and I’m excited about the possibilities.