It has been a long haul, and the pace has slowed down quite a bit in recent years. It has been my goal to cover the 184.5 miles of the C&O canal on foot at little bit at a time. Living in an area that is closer to the Mile 0 marker in Washington, DC, it has been easy for me to cover the areas closer to home. The sections of the trail closer to Cumberland have been difficult to reach. In addition to being far away from home, these sections of the trail also happen to pass through the boondocks. Very few people live in these parts and the access points to the trail are more and more difficult to get to because you have to drive long distances on the narrow winding rural roads after getting off the highway to reach your destination. It takes me a lot time just to get to the start of my walk. In May of 2014 I extended my coverage to mile marker 139.
Last Thursday I decided to extend my coverage of the trail by another six miles. I drove up to Little Orleans on a dreary wet day to do the hike. Little Orleans must have been a bigger town when the Western Maryland Railroad ran through it. Lumber used to be the main product in these parts those days. Very few buildings remain in this area. Bill’s Place is well known as a stop for food and drink for long-distance bikers riding the trails between Washington DC and Pittsburgh. It is perhaps the only place of note left in town. Bill was a well known character and ran the place from the 1970s (when the railroad was still running) until his death in 2013. It still operates under different ownership. I hesitated to enter the establishment by myself since I had heard that the local crowd in there could be quite rough. I will come back when I am with a bigger group.
The parking lot for the trail at Little Orleans is close to the location of the Fifteen Mile Creek aqueduct. The Potomac river looked quite peaceful from the boat ramp area.
The aqueduct looked like it is in decent shape.
The flowers of spring were mostly gone, but there was still a lot of honeysuckle beside the trail.
The place was so remote that the animals did not seem to mind your presence. The deer just stood on the trail as I ran towards it, and the rabbit continued to chew on the wet grass even as I got close to it.
I went past a couple of locks, including lock 57 which still had the remains of its lock house next to it.
I also ran past an abandoned railroad bridge where the Western Maryland Railroad used to cross into West Virginia. When laying the tracks in this section, the railroad company had decided to avoid the bends of the river and take a straighter route using multiple river crossings.
The feeling of the wet woods was awesome, with the drip of water from the light drizzle creating a soothing background sound. The canal did seem to have a different feel to it in this section than I am used to. Don’t know yet when I will get a chance to extend my coverage by another six miles. Hopefully it will not take another year.