National Geographic : 1945 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine A. Aubrey Bodine High in Maryland's Mountains, a Speedboat Churns Deep Creek Lake Though only seven miles from the Potomac, the man-made lake near Oakland, 2,462 feet above the sea, drains into the Ohio River system. Backbone Mountain separates the two watersheds. This compara tively undeveloped vacation land on Maryland's roof is twice as far from Baltimore as from Pittsburgh. born on the boats began to help with the mule driving at 6 or 7 years. Most of the traffic was downstream: at first lumber, stone, grain, flour, and whiskey, later almost altogether coal. Georgetown, D. C., Once a Coal Port In one of the heaviest years, 1871, some 850,000 tons of coal were moved and 540 boats were in service. Half a mile of barges waited at Georgetown to be unloaded. Railroad competition, political interference, money troubles, depletion of western Mary land coal, motor-truck competition, and re peated floods, climaxing in the destructive 1924 freshet, finally put the canal out of business commercially. Quite aside from the changing river and surrounding countryside, there is endless variety along the nearly 200 miles of canal. There are the varicolored stone locks, sturdy brick and stone lock keepers' houses, 11 hand some masonry aqueducts carrying the canal over tributary streams, and a 3,000-foot tun nel through a mountain. Although abandoned 20 years ago as a car rier of freight, the canal still has two impor tant commercial customers in the industrial sections of old Georgetown, a paper mill and a flour mill, which have perpetual franchises to take water from it for power purposes. But river and canal leave behind all urban and industrial traces soon after they pass under Key Bridge and by the lofty towers of the noted Jesuit institution, Georgetown Uni versity (page 39). Directly adjoining the Georgetown end of Key Bridge are the dreary-looking remains of the once-attractive country home of Francis Scott Key, whose grounds sloped down to the river and through whose garden the canal was built. Each spring several kinds of fish, includ ing herring and shad, proceed from the sea up the Potomac to a few miles beyond George town to spawn. Even in these days, the rotating cycle of runs still produces large catches of fish, al though nothing compared with a century ago. One account written in 1832 says that the number of shad frequently obtained at a haul was 4,000 and upwards, and herrings from one to 300,000. A large roe shad sold in the Washington retail market at not over 6 cents. Today, in season, they bring a dollar or more in city markets.