To get the C&O Canal over the Conococheague Creek, the C&O Canal Company built an aqueduct, or bridge for carrying water, to float boats literally about 16 feet above the creek bed below. The aqueduct was made out of limestone obtained from quarries close by. And when it opened in 1834, it was about 200 feet long and had three arches for support. It was repaired in the early 1870's, and functioned pretty well, until one fateful day.
Captain Frank Myers had just unloaded his boat here in Williamsport and was beginning the trip west back up to Cumberland. On the morning of April 20, 1920, he was steering his boat, #73, into the Conococheague Creek Aqueduct. Up ahead, his stepson, Joseph, was driving a three-mule team on the aqueduct when the boat struck the east end of the berm wall. Captain Myers saw the stone wall begin to waver. The mules were about at the other end of the aqueduct when Myers yelled to his son, "Cut the line! Cut the towline!"
Captain Myers then jumped from the boat onto the east end of the berm parapet and the stone wall gave way, taking boat #73 down into the creek. But Frank and Joseph, and all three mules, were safe and sound on shore.
The canal shut down for four months after that, while the company replaced the stone wall with a wooden one.
Boat 73 stayed stuck in the creek below for the next 16 years until 1936, when a great flood washed it away, down into the Potomac.
Some of the original stone was pulled from the creek around 1980. Look inthe canal bed at the western end of the aqueduct. You can still see it.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, the aqueduct was a favorite swimming hole for the boys here in town, and the boatmen didn't much appreciate them. They'd yell at the kids to get out of the water so the mules and boats could pass. How about that!
For more information on the Aqueduct and surrounding area, please click here: