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Rick Robinson's Second Time Around: C&O Canal

Northern Kentucky author & attorney Rick Robinson is back in Washington, DC where he spent years on the staff of then-Congressman Jim Bunning. As a busy staffer on the Hill, it's easy to miss the beauty of our nation's capital. And that's what happened to Rick. This time, he vows to take it all in - and share it with you in "Second Time Around".

Anyone who has driven to Washington, DC, knows there is no easy way to get from here to there. I made the jaunt for the first time in 1986 along the path that goes across the panhandle of Maryland. It’s a beautiful drive that meanders through Wheeling and Morgantown, West Virginia, as well as mountains that include the Eastern Continental Divide. 

Along this northern route to the nation’s capital is the town of Cumberland, Maryland, a small industrial town that seemingly pops up out of nowhere. Early on, my curiosity about the origins of an old factory town in the mountains got the best of me. Stopping there during one trip, I discovered Cumberland was the starting point for the C&O Canal.
 
In 1825, the last act of President James Monroe was to sign into law legislation for the Chesapeake to Ohio Canal. Construction was supposed to take twelve years and stretch from DC to the Ohio Valley. 
 
Some things about government projects never change and the canal finally made it to Cumberland in 1950. But trains had already made it over the mountains and the remaining 180 miles of canal to the Ohio Valley were abandoned.
 
Eventually the company that ran the canal went belly-up and the canal was acquired by the B&O Railroad. A succession of major floods made the canal inoperable for commerce and the government bought the C&O Canal in 1938. Today it is a 184 mile long national park.
 
I recently went fishing In Georgetown at the point where the C&O flows into the Potomac River. On the day I was there, it provided more solitude than fish. So, in the spirit of the canal’s turn of the century operators, I abandoned my fishing trip and started taking pictures.

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The toll gate at the mouth is still present. And, if you’ve ever wondered how it got its name, that’s the Watergate in the background.

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A walk along the C&O Canal in Georgetown is a throwback, with old restored industrial buildings lining walking paths and pedestrian bridges.

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With 184 miles of national park to explore, there are a lot of places to stop along the way. This one (pictured at top) in Hancock, Maryland has a beautiful setting and a small museum which gives the history of the C&O.
 
For more columns and stories by Rick Robinson, click here.

For more on Rick Robinson's award-winning books, visit his Amazon page here and his website here.

Don't miss Rick Robinson's Alligator Alley!
His contemporary novel Alligator Alley is a story of growing up in a small Kentucky town (dare we say Ludlow) and won the Grand Prize at the Great Southeast Book Festival in New Orleans. For more on this award-winning locally-inspired book, click here.

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