Level Walker Updates

Hello Level Walkers,

As the Association’s annual meeting approaches, I look forward to seeing some of you there.  If you need a level walker hat or have any questions, it will be a good time to catch up with me. If you have any questions about the annual meeting, please contact me.

If you are out there on the towpath, please keep in mind that icy conditions can persist even when it is above freezing, and tree limbs are prone to falling this time of year.  I observed both of these conditions first hand on Friday – though I did have the towpath all to myself!

The following updates are from the National Park Service.  The Weverton access change is a concern for many of us, and I don’t know if there will be any kind of work-around. I will update you if I hear anything on that.

Thanks for all you do!

Volunteer Program Assessment. The park is conducting an assessment of the volunteer program.  The park will use this information to improve the volunteer program.  The deadline to respond to the assessment is February 28th.
You will need to enter your name and email address to complete the survey.  This is so the park can follow up for more information if needed.
The survey is available at: https://goo.gl/forms/bhIOtPFeek58lVc13
Weverton Railroad Crossing (near Harpers Ferry). CSX has notified the Park that the railroad crossing at Weverton (off of Keep Tryst Road) is to be only used by CSX personnel. There is no longer access from the parking lot at Weverton to the C&O Canal towpath or Appalachian Trail.
Both the AT and the National Capital Region are aware of the change of status.  Private crossing signs have been installed and trains are not required to sound horns. Trains go through this area very rapidly and it is an unprotected crossing, making it a safety hazard!
Special Events at Great Falls:
  • Great Falls Tavern is hosting a pop up exhibit during the month of February called “What Would You Do To Be Free?” focusing on the stories of runaway slaves on the Canal
  • Feb 17 – VIP Speaker Series: Great Backyard Bird Count (9:00-11:00)
  • Feb 18 – Annual George Washington Ball with music and dancing (1:00-4:00)
  • Feb 25 – Presentation on the African-American CCC at the C&O Canal (12:00-1:00)
  • March 10 – VIP Speaker Series: Aqueducts of the C&O Canal (2:00-3:00)
  • March 18 – Irish Laborers on the C&O Canal (1:00-2:00)
  • March 24 – VIP Speaker Series: Grand Old Ditch (2:00-3:00)
  • March 25 – Women’s Life and Work on the C&O Canal (1:00-3:00)
  • March 31 – Northern Virginia Mountain Dulcimers (12:30-3:00)

Above – Culvert 93, Israel Creek, at Weverton,  January 20, 2018

Update on the Conococheague Aqueduct and Other Notes

Hello Level Walkers!

I have a few notes of interest for you from the National Park Service. As always, visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/choh or Facebook at chesapeakeandohiocanal for up-to-date information.

Construction on the Conococheague Aqueduct restoration project is anticipated to begin in late July 2017 and extend approximately 18 months, weather dependent, until December 2018. During this time visitors will be unable to travel over the aqueduct and through the construction area, and will be directed onto a 1.1 mile long detour route around the Conococheague Aqueduct. The upstream end of the detour departs from the towpath near milepost 99.75, travels along Fenton Avenue, an alleyway, state Route 68, and U.S. Route 11 until rejoining the towpath near milepost 99.60 (directly adjacent to the Cushwa Basin). Prior to closure of the towpath, signage will be posted to clearly mark the detour route. The detour is outlined on the below map.

The Olmsted Island bridge crossing at Great Falls is anticipated to reopen on July 7.

Many of you have reported seeing acoustic monitoring devices at various points on the park. These devices are part of a study to monitor bat activity. They will be in place through this year and possibly later. If you notice any signs of damage to them please let me know; photos are helpful in that event. A report of the findings will be available after the study is completed.

The NPS is looking for some rescue help for some fish trapped in the canal under the Key Bridge in Georgetown. The rescue effort will take place on Thursday, July 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Interested volunteers should meet NPS staff at 10 a.m. near the Washington Canoe Club, at the end of Water Street N.W. Nets, buckets, waders/muck boots, and a water cooler will be available, but volunteers are encouraged to bring their own equipment if available.  Please RSVP to park biologist Andrew Landsman (andrew_landsman@nps.gov) if you are able to come. Andrew can also answer any questions you might have.

Thanks for all you do for the park!  Enjoy those summer walks; stay safe and remember to carry plenty of water.


Above photo – The Western Maryland Railway tunnels, including the Indigo Tunnel, are bat habitats and protected from human intrusion – Level 52

20170620 Conococheague Bypass Plan

Conococheague Aqueduct towpath bypass route – image courtesy of the National Park Service, C&O Canal National Historical Park

Paw Paw Tunnel Closure

Hello!

This is short and sweet, but info you should have if you plan to visit Western Maryland.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that the Paw Paw Tunnel is closing for a while. I received word today that it is closing on June 2. This closure is important; it is so the National Park Service can conduct the Paw Paw Rock Slope Remediation project, which benefits both the integrity of the towpath and towpath user safety. 

All thru-traffic will use the bypass trail (Tunnel Hill trail) for the duration of the project. Currently the contractor is projecting that the project should be completed around the end of September 2017.

I will send you updates as they are available!

Switching hats to the Editor hat – the June Along the Towpath is nearly finished!  There’s lots of great stuff in it, so be sure to take a look when it shows up in mid-June.

Photo – Paw Paw Tunnel in existing light, May 31, 2013 – Level 58

The Paw Paw Tunnel and Facebook

This is a slightly better set of topics than the previous post. Everyone loves the Paw Paw Tunnel, right?  And many of us use Facebook.  I have to admit, I am a slow embracer, but I’ve recently delved back in to it after a sabbatical, and delight that you can find anything you need there, including and especially timely information about our wonderful park.

The park has an excellent Facebook page.  It is well laid out, with excellent photographs, well written content, relevant information, and is just plain fun to peruse sometimes.  It is the fastest way to find out information or status, and questions are answered promptly.  If you are a Facebook user, search for Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park; if you are not try, https://www.facebook.com/chesapeakeandohiocanal/

The Paw Paw Tunnel is going to be closed for a period of time, starting in June. This closure is necessary to allow contractors to do some very important work to mitigate the situation that has been causing rocks to fall, and make the towpath safer for users.

The tunnel and towpath are currently open. Last week the contractor began surveying the construction area and have begun the assessment/design process. The tunnel and towpath will remain open for the duration of this process.

 It’s anticipated that the contractor will mobilize and close the towpath and tunnel around the beginning of June. The towpath and tunnel will remain open until that time. Updates have gone up on the website and are in the process of being shared with the public about the adjusted timeline. You can view the project page on the park’s website: https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/pawpaw-closure.htm 

And – of course – you can keep up on the situation by visiting the park’s Facebook page periodically! An update and some excellent photos were posted today.

Photo – Paw Paw Tunnel upstream portal; June 20, 2012 – Level 57