Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 109 - Catoctin Aqueduct

Potomac River
I needed to go see a friend today near Jefferson, Maryland, so I took the advice of photo friend, Gary McGinnis, and went to the Catoctin Aqueduct for my walk.  I am so glad I did. 

Although the day was gray (it started raining around 3:30 this afternoon), I parked my car at Lock 29 by the Lander House, which is along the C&O Canal Towpath.  It is a small, very unassuming part of the C&O Canal National Historical Park.  The aqueduct has quite a history, so I hope you will take the time to read the links I am making in this blog.  The aqueduct was totally collapsed by 1973, but it was recently restored, and now it is a beautiful landmark for all to see.
Lander House at Lock 29

I started out my walk by parking at the Lander House, at Lock 29 on the canal.  As you may know, the canal also parallels the railroad in much of its run, so I had to cross the tracks and then enter the park area.  I walked down to the Potomac River first, which also parallels the canal, and is the primary reason for the canal's existence.  The Potomac has lots of rocks and unnavigable sections, so the canal was built as a conduit from east to west.  Read its history here.

Downy Woodpecker
I stopped almost as soon as I started, because the woods were teeming with bird life, primarly woodpeckers!  I saw flocks of downy woodpeckers and a few flickers.  There was a swampy area with a lot of dead trees, and the birds were busy at work.  They were accompanied by sparrows, chickadees, titmice, and cardinals.  This place had the most bird life I have seen on any of my walks, yet.  Later on, near the aqueduct, I even saw a pair of eagles.  I might have to come back with my 500mm lens on my big camera soon.
Deer skull

When I got to the river, I saw the sun struggling to burn through the gray clouds.  I loved the light it was creating.  And, along the way, there was a rock with a deer skull, which is something I definitely have not seen before on these walks.

I returned to the tow path, marveling at the huge trees.  The old canal and modern day train tracks were to my right, and the woods and the river were to my left.  About a half mile down the path I found the aqueduct.  Unfortunately, taking a shot of the structure from the side only revealed the huge log jam on its other side, visible through the arches.  Hurricane Sandy, I am sure, had an effect on that.  I did not include that photo here.

Railroad Viaduct
The newly restored Catoctin Aqueduct
The aqueduct parallels the train viaduct.  The aqueduct used to carry the canal over the Catoctin Creek.  The iron railing shown along the top of the structure is a copy of the original iron railing, which is quite decorative.

I'll be visiting other canal sites in days to come, but this one gave me some great things to look at and to photograph today.  Thanks for the recommendation, Gary!

The only person I saw

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Cam's rules for the Daily Photo Walk:
  1. walk every day
  2. the walk must be in addition to any other planned activity for the day
  3. post a photo every day
  4. use my Nikon P7100 (it is a very convenient size and weight)
  5. no weather excuses
  6. walk only where it is safe to do so

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