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  • 4201. Monocacy Aqueduct

    It wasn't easy to build. At first, they used stone quarried from Mrs. Nelson's farm. They built three piers with it. But it was just too soft. As Mr. Robert Leckie wrote, "The masonry was so bad that it is not worth having." Mr. Leckie was in charge of the masonry. He had to resign. So they tore down those three piers and then they went to Mr. Johnson's farm on Furnace Ford and started using hard, white granite. They even built a tramway to transport those stones from the farm to the construction site. And the aqueduct opened in 1833. It was on the front line of the Civil War. After Second Bull Run in September 1862, the confederates tried to blow it up a couple of times. But the masonry - that white granite - was just too strong. Major General John G. Walker was ordered to destroy the aqueduct. He wrote: "At 10 p.m. of September 9, 1862, my division arrived at the aqueduct...The attempted work at destruction began, but so admirable was the aqueduct constructed and cemented that it was found to be virtually a solid mass of granite. Not a seam or a crevice could be discovered in which to insert the point of a crow bar, and the only resource was in blasting. But the drills furnished to my engineer were too dull and the granite too hard and after several hours of zealous but ineffectual effort, the attempt had to be abandoned..." The Monocacy Aqueduct carried water and boats, coal and mules over the river for about 90 years, until the canal shut down for good in 1924. It had survived war and hurricanes, floods and even neglect. But by the end of the 20th century, it was in bad shape. The National Park Service undertook a major restoration plan and the Monocacy Aqueduct reopened in all its former glory in 2005. So when you cross the Monocacy Aqueduct, please pause for a moment to remember all the soldiers, boats, mules and families who crossed right here...just like you.