National Geographic : 1960 Mar
KODACHROMESBY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERSTHOMASNEBBIA (ABOVE) AND VOLKMARWENTZEL( N.G.S. he broke up his raftlike boat, sold it for lumber, and walked home. The hiker today, tramping the Virginia shore, can see the ruins of locks built by the Potowmack Company. After more than a century and a half and many floods, the huge hand-cut blocks of stone still stand in trim alignment, reflecting the precision with which the walls were built. President Adams Sheds His Coat The Potowmack Company failed, but the idea of a route between the Atlantic and the Ohio River remained alive.* The year 1828 witnessed its emphatic revival when the newly organized Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Com pany began to build a canal from Washington all the way to Pittsburgh and the Ohio. 428 Appropriately, the directors chose the Fourth of July as the day to start work. They invited President John Quincy Adams to turn the first spadeful of earth near Little Falls. During his address, President Adams took up a spade and attempted to drive it into the sod. It struck a root. Undaunted, he tried again, with no success. He threw down the spade, peeled off his coat, and, on the third try, pierced the ground. The assemblage roared approval. Was the root an ill omen? Perhaps, for on that same day-40 miles away, at Baltimore another group was laying the foundation stone for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. This enterprise was destined to plague the * See "Potomac, River of Destiny," by Albert W. Atwood, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, July, 1945.