It gets dark very quickly once you enter the Paw Paw Tunnel. I shot this when I looked back to see how far in I had gone.
The historic Paw Paw Tunnel near Oldtown, Maryland, is located at milepost 155.2 on the C&O Canal towpath. Considered an amazing engineering feat and most notable landmark on the Canal, the tunnel, at 3,118 feet-long (3/5 of a mile), took 5,800,000 bricks to build and cut 5 miles off the Canal’s length. Originally estimated to cost $33,500 and take two years to finish, C&O finally completed it after 12 years and $566,500. The tunnel nearly bankrupted the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company. One reason C&O never completed the Canal to the Ohio River at Pittsburgh.
The Paw Paw Tunnel has a colorful history. Race Riots between the German, English, and Irish workers, strikes, discontent, and eventual arrests defined its twelve years of construction. When C&O eventually completed the Canal, it was only wide enough for one boat at a time. Bottlenecks would occur, causing fights between the boatmen refusing to yield the right-of-way. Even though the rule was that the downstream headed boat would back up and leave the tunnel to allow the upstream boat to proceed, they would sometimes refuse. One time, a standoff went on for days until the boatmen built a fire upstream to smoke them out.
Construction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, nicknamed the Grand Old Ditch, took place from 1828 - 1850. It is 184.5 miles long, stretching from Washington, DC to Cumberland, Maryland. As far back as 1785, George Washington had the idea for a canal. He advocated using waterways to connect the Eastern Seaboard to the Great Lakes and Ohio River. Washington formed the Potowmack Company to improve navigation on the Potomac River by bypassing its waterfalls and rapids. The C&O Canal incorporated these canals into their canal system. C&O never completed the channel; labor issues slowed the work, nearly bankrupting the company, and then the railroad came along, making the canal system obsolete. The Canal operated from 1831 to 1924, primarily transporting coal from the Allegheny Mountains. It is now a National Park known as the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.
Copyright 2020 Susan Rissi Tregoning
October 6th, 2020
Viewed 1,723 Times - Last Visitor from New York, NY on 12/01/2023 at 12:07 PM