The C&O Canal in Georgetown

The C&O Canal, about which I’ve written in the past, was a favorite place to visit and spend a quiet afternoon while we lived in the DC area. We had our sections of the canal, which we visited over and over, to hike and bike. The scenery was picturesque, it was quiet and conducive to relaxation, and the people we met while on the hikes all had smiles on their faces.

These particular photos were taken while we visited the 0 Mile Marker in Georgetown. It’s the place where the Canal starts to wind its way into upper Maryland. You’ll be able to see the first lockgates which allow the barges to climb upward as the elevation rises. You’ll also be able to see Georgetown from the C&O Canal, which is an interesting way to see it.

The NPS (National Park Service) organizes barge rides up the canal. They don’t go very far up the canal, but it’s far enough to give you a good idea about the unique and hard way of life on the barge, which peaked and fell during a century of use.

Not only did an enormous amount of work, performed by underpaid and overworked people, go into making the Canal, but a lot of work had to go into its upkeep and operation.

Each lock gate (there were 74 in total) required a lock operator, which meant the provision of a household at each gate, because the gates were in out of the way places.

Barges were expensive, which meant the barge owner’s life savings had to go into its purchase. Space was at a premium on them, and entire families would live in those tiny cabins you see in the photos, while hauling heavy loads of coal, grains and other stuff up and down the canal.

The barges were pulled along the canal by mules, which were chosen because of their hardy nature. They’re more manageable than jackasses but will not work themselves to exhaustion like horses; they know when to stop, which is a very good trait indeed when you have to pull a heavy barge all day.

I recorded a couple of videos while riding the barge, which have the honor of being the first videos I uploaded to YouTube, back on August 16, 2006:

Cruising the C&O Canal (Part 1)

Cruising the C&O Canal (Part 2)



On the streets of Georgetown in 2006

The same day we visited the Old Stone House, we walked the streets of Georgetown, enjoying the sights, then we stopped for a hearty lunch at a nice restaurant (see last photo below).


The Old Stone House in Georgetown, DC

I’ve been in love with early American stone architecture since college. One of the reasons I chose to go to my alma matter, Middlebury College, was its wonderful stone architecture. I find such buildings to be as natural and organic as possible. Stone, wood and glass are to me the best-suited, most recyclable, most natural and best looking building materials one can use.

The Old Stone House is well known in Georgetown and is visited by many tourists and locals alike. It is the oldest standing building in DC, because it was built in 1765. A cabinetmaker by the name of Christopher Layman built it and lived in it. After his death it passed through the hands of various owners, until it was bought by the National Park Service in 1953 (almost two hundred years after its construction) and restored to what is believed to be its initial condition.

The house itself is fairly simple and fairly small. The interiors are spartan, as is the case with most early American architecture. But the exterior looks great and the gardens are lovely. I heard stories that the gardens were turned into a parking lot in the 20th century, because the house was a used cars lot, and that the NPS did quite a bit of work to get it back to its initial state. Kudos to them.


Photos of spring in the Mid-Atlantic states of North America

The spring season in a temperate climate is a wonderful time, isn’t it? If one is affected by such things, and I am, the colors, the new life, the fresh air, the sunshine, and the chirping of the birds can make you ecstatic with joy. Just as winter can be a time for quiet thought and reading by the fireplace, and that sort of thing is much-needed after a full year of work, spring is when you can get out of the house once more to explore nature as it comes back to life.

I thought I’d put together a little collection of some of my best spring photographs, taken in states such as Maryland, Virginia and DC. There are 50 photos in this post, all of which you can see individually below, or in the embedded slideshow.

Continue reading