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  • 7206. Ferry Hill Tour Stop 6- Lock 38

    You are standing in the bygone town of Bridgeport, once a thriving little community at the crossroads of commerce, transportation, and history; Bridgeport has been washed away by the numerous floods that have swept across the Potomac Valley. If you look close enough, you can see some of the foundations that remain, including the old tavern that was a popular spot. Lock 38 is here, just below the newer James Rumsey Bridge. This bridge carries folks into Shepherdstown. If you visit Shepherdstown, you’ll find an historic town with a monument to James Rumsey, who in 1787 demonstrated his working steamboat here along the river in Shepherdstown. Above you, yet now concealed by trees, is Ferry Hill Plantation. This area was a part of the once 700 acre plantation. A walk down to the river will give you a nice view of the piers that remain from the old bridge. This area is known as the Shepherdstown Bluffs and the remains you see to the left are of the old Potomac Bridge, a covered bridge built by the Virginia and Maryland Bridge Company soon after completion of the C&O Canal. Henry Kyd Douglas, who lived at Ferry Hill, would return to Shepherdstown after joining Company B of the 2nd Virginia with the Confederates who set fire to this bridge. During the Civil War, troops who crossed the river here, between Maryland and then Virginia, would have to use the old Packhorse Ford. Just a bit further downstream, are the stone piers that were the former Shenandoah Valley Railroad Bridge. And in the same area, is the old Shepherdstown River Lock. This Lock was only one of three that allowed canal boats to leave the small confines of the canal prism and head out into the Potomac River. Captains could use this lock to access Shepherdstown, where there was a gristmill and other provisions available in town. A road, town, tavern, canal, railroad, locks, and bridges made this a popular place in the hey-day of the Canal.