5501. Barry, Berlin, Brunswick

Imagine being able to travel back in time. It's 1834 and you're standing here on the towpath waiting for the first canal boat to go through Lock 30. Your little town of Berlin, the Post Office calls it Barry, is nestled right on the other side of the canal and the town is alive with excitement as people await the arrival of this first canal boat. You came across the canal today on the bridge that the locktender swings over the canal. It's big enough to carry a horse and wagon over the canal and then swing out of the way so the boats can go through.

As you wait, you hear something behind you and turn to see the ferry coming across the river from Virginia, bringing more people to welcome the first canal boat. By odd coincidence, the first train is scheduled to pass through today too, on the railroad tracks just on the other side of town.

If you could see into the future while standing here, you would see a new wooden bridge being built in 1859, replacing the ferry. Sadly, just three years later, the bridge will be burned by the Confederates as the Civil War impacts the area.

By the 1890s, a new bridge will be built, the town will be relocated to the other side of the railroad tracks and it's name will be changed to Brunswick. Around this time, the canal will have it's own struggles as it recovers from the devastating flood of 1889. It will recover and continue until 1924.

A hundred years from now, in the 1930s, the area where you're standing will become an encampment for men displaced by the Great Depression. Freight trains will unwittingly provide transportation for these unfortunate men and the locals will refer to this area as the "Hobo Jungle."

If you could look even further into the future, you would see the canal becoming a National Park and see people hiking and biking on this very towpath.

But it's only 1834 and you're waiting for that first canal boat to appear. Is that it in the distance? Can you hear the captain bugling for the locktender? (sound effect of bugle.) "Hey, hey, hey, lock ready..."