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C&O Canal - Mather Loop Proposal
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CCA – Proposal to Use the C&O Canal as a Waterway 1/2018, rev 5, 10/2019


The following proposes rewatering two sections of the Canal (Levels 16 and 14) for longitudinal use by boats as Charles Mercer and John Quincy Adams meant it to be.

Restore the historic Mather Gorge Loop: (0.7 canal-miles) 


The river run is from Sandy Beach to S Turn, Rocky Island Wave, Wetbottom, Mather Gorge, the Chutes, out at Anglers]

Needed Fixes:  Canal needs water level in Widewater raised so one can paddle up from the Anglers bridge.  Above that, a Lock 15 fix is not needed (short portage) but reconstructing the top gate of Lock 16 (or a 2-foot wall at that point) would bring up the water in Level 16 (0.36 mi) for a paddle up to the Lock 17/Sandy Beach trail.  The rough trail from Widewater up under the wooden pedestrian and bicycle bridge needs improvement.

Water Flow: The water comes down from Dam 2 at Violettes in a trickle through Pennyfield and Swains and the Six Locks (15-20) to fill up Widewater (NB:  the NHP has works in progress around the Tavern).  However, the rivulets entering the long (4-mile) Lock 14 level may supply sufficient water.  Note that the outflow goes out of Widewater through the waste weir and down a short brook to the Potomac.   With its interest in getting the “Mercer” excursion boat back afloat, the NHP has focused on fixing Lock 20 & 19 so it can be locked through for the delight of the tourists.  Locks 18 and 17 were also rebuilt in 2019 but are not filled. (Oct 2019)   

Adding a mile below Anglers:

  This beautiful four mile section of Level 14 takes you down to the broad place just before the cliffs opposite Vaso Island.   Lock 14, the next lock down, is the top of the Seven Locks.  Here is the infamous “High Wall” with the Dulles Sewer (Upper Potomac Interceptor) buried below, where the NHP’s rewatering project has a huge problem, meaning time and money.   For this section to be rewatered will require some imagination.   However, to raise the water in the upstream part of Level 14 to allow boats to ply from Anglers up to Widewater, a one foot coffer dam is needed.  It should be below Anglers bridge and above the Log Wall at Carderock.   (NB: at the current (5/2019, moist) level, canal flow at Anglers coming from the halfway point of the “Log Wall” moves ever so gently upstream.)

Parking:  at Anglers


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