Potomac River

Potomac River (HM15TW)

Location: Potomac, MD 20854 Montgomery County
Country: United States of America

N 39° 2.276', W 77° 15.31'

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— Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park —

Human habitation in the Potomac River Basin has existed for 9,000 years, according to archeological evidence. The name "Potomac" derives from the Algonquian word "patawomeke," which means "trading place." The first English settlement, St. Mary's City, was founded in 1634. Alexandria, Virginia was planned in 1749; Washington, D.C. in 1791.

The "Potomack Canal," promoted by George Washington, was begun in 1785. Efforts continued until 1819. Work was resumed by the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company on July 4, 1828, continuing until 1850. Of an originally proposed 350 miles, 184 miles were completed. 74 lift-locks raised or lowered barges 605 feet. The canal has 11 stone aqueducts, 7 dams, and a 3,115-foot tunnel. It was built by workers from Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands and Wales.

The canal's peak year was 1871 when 850,000 tons were carried. As many as 540 barges, each carrying 120 tons, conveyed lumber, coal, stone, grain, flour and whiskey. Barges traveled 4 mph and made about 30 trips annually. A disastrous flood in 1889 nearly destroyed the canal. It was rebuilt and used until 1924.

The C. & O. Canal had cost $22 million. On the day its construction began, work also began on the B. & O. Railroad. The railroad rivaled the canal, reaching Cumberland, Maryland 8 years earlier, thus spelling its obsolescence.

In 1971 the C. & O. Canal became a National Historical Park.

HM NumberHM15TW
Series This marker is part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal series
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 19th, 2014 at 10:40am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 304814 N 4323406
Decimal Degrees39.03793333, -77.25516667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 2.276', W 77° 15.31'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 2' 16.56" N, 77° 15' 18.60" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)240, 301
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 170-198 Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath, Potomac MD 20854, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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