C and O Towpath – Day 2 – Paw Paw, WV to Hancock, MD

Before I start the Day 2 blog, I will finish the unfinished Day 1 blog. As I mentioned in the last post, there are 74 locks along the canal. These locks required a lock keeper. This usually was a family who agreed to staff the locks 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The keeper was paid around $200 a year and provided a place to live. Sometimes, if the locks were close to one another, the keeper would be responsible for more than one lock.

Here are the pictures of the first lock.

In addition to the locks, there were other equipment necessary to keep the canal running. As we encounter these, I will post pictures and comments. Shortly after the first lock, we came upon a Steam Pump. Steam pumps were used the regulate the water level of the canal. As you can imagine, too much or too little water adversely impacted canal operations. So the steam pump could pump either direction, either taking water from the Potomac or pumping water to the Potomac.

After leaving the steam pump, we rode along the path until we were about 7 miles from the bridge across the Potomac that leads into the small town of Paw Paw, WV. At that point we were met by our Airbnb host for the evening. His name is Dan, and he is a canal park volunteer. He rides the trail every day, meeting trail riders, answering questions and just being a presence on the C&O. Minutes after meeting him and heading on toward Paw Paw, it started to rain. Although it didn’t last long, it was enough for us to put on our rain gear. We rode, together with Dan, to the cutoff that took us into Paw Paw, and then across the bridge. Dan’s place was only a couple of blocks from the bridge.

Day 2

After a quiet evening in Paw Paw we had breakfast with Dan. Dan was very considerate and made sure the eggs were cooked to my satisfaction. After breakfast, we said goodbye to Dan, crossed the Potomac bridge, turned right onto the C&O and headed toward Hancock.

The highlight of Day 2 would be the Paw Paw Tunnel. This important section of the canal was a challenge to build. Here is the Wikipedia entry on the tunnel.

We reached the tunnel shortly after rejoining the towpath trail.

We had told Dan that we planned to ride the paved parallel Western Maryland Rail Trail from Little Orleans into Hancock. He told us that an additional 4 miles of the trail was complete before Little Orleans and gave us instructions on how to reach the new segment. This involved actually walking across the mostly dry bed of the canal and up a steep embankment, in order to reach the new pavement. Bill and I aren’t sure it was worth the effort. But, following Dan’s directions, we found the unmarked beginning of the WMRT and we would be on this paved parallel trail for a total of 32 miles, 22 on Day 2 and an additional 10 on Day 3.

After reaching the paved WMRT, we rode the 22 miles into Hancock. With brand new pavement, we made quick work of the 22 miles. From the front porch of our guest house, we could see both the C&O and the Western Maryland trails just a couple hundred yards away.

We had a nice evening, enjoying wine, cheese and crackers on the porch, followed by dinner at a highly rated local restaurant, that was having a bad day. They were out of virtually everything we ordered, the place was packed and service was slow. But once we did get our order, it was very nice. Our hosts, Bill and Darlene are up there in years. In fact, Bill, who cooked our breakfast is 90. They are looking to retire, so if you have ever wanted to run a bed and breakfast, check out 1828 Trail Inn, Hancock, MD.

So that is about it for day 2. I am still having issues, but, it appears that the version I was using that permits pictures in circles, tiles, etc., is not functioning properly. So, I have switched back to the version that posts one picture at a time. I began writing this post in one version and switched to the other midway. I will try to find a solution before tomorrow’s post.

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