Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Great Falls (on the East Coast)

We're back in the TriCities, but I realized that our last adventure did not get posted. In the midst of one of the hottest Junes on record, we visited Great Falls National Park. This is an amazing park just outside of DC that runs along the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal. After visiting the falls, the reasoning behind needing a canal was obvious.

On the Maryland side, there is a daily adventure from the park service where you get to ride a canal boat and watch the poor volunteers get heat stroke as they work the canal locks. We watched the last boat of the day, after this it was too hot for the mules to work (not the same rule for the park service employees, just the animals.)

Looking back at the height of the locks in front of the Visitor Center.

Impressive system of locks and gates. You can see the canal boat in the distance.

Walking along the canal, we could see parts of the Potomac River. George Washington was one of the first to act on the ened for a canal. He started the Patowmack Canal Company at Great Falls. Part of it is still preserved by the park service. His canal took seventeen years to build, and was one of the first canals built in the US.

Walking across a bridge, we could start to see the falls. The Potomac River drops 77 feet in less than a mile within the Great Falls Park.

Lots of water! Parts of the park were still closed from the destruction of the melting snow from Snowmaggedon. (Weren't we lucky to have been through one year of DC with the most snow and hottest summer...)

This was a unique terrain. Bedrock terrace forest.

The falls were impressive.
After visiting the park, we continued up the Maryland side to the last private ferry on the Potomac River and then drove back down the Virginia side. We were second in line for the ferry on our side, but were surprised at the lines on both sides of the river. The ferry just goes back and forth across the river and at $4 per car had a brisk business. I couldn't really get a good picture, but this website has one: http://canal.mcmullans.org/whites_ferry.htm.