Coming into Hancock the day before, I noticed that there was paved bike path heading into Hanock and then out continuing down river. There is about a twenty mile bike path of the old Western Maryland Railroad that parallels the C&O Tow Path with Hancock pretty much in the middle. Since paved roads are faster than the bumpy C&O I decided to give it a go until it ended.
At one point on the trail, there was a sign pointing out the three modes of transportation that were tried in that corridor: canal then railroad, and then the interstate. It said that each eventually led to the demise of the previous one. (CSX still has an active rail line nearby that mostly moves coal.) I had often thought about the history of the route. From the historical signs along the canal, the canal was never much of a success. It was plagued by flooding and it was not fully completed until the railroads were also nearly complete along the same route. It could not compete with the railroads in speed or tonnage. The amount of railroads coming through are still visible with both active and abandoned railroad trestles crossing the rivers. The signs along the path were interesting because of the long and important history of this area of country for both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War as well as the development of industry and the move west. Continue reading Day 80: Hancock, MD to Harper’s Ferry, WV (November 17)