National Park Service Completes Monocacy Aqueduct Restoration Project; $6 Million Effort Hailed as a Success
Date: Saturday, May 21, 2005
Darnestown, MD – After sustaining serious damage during two major floods in 1996 and following a two-year restoration project begun in 2002, the National Park Service, along with the C&O Canal Association, announce the completion of a project to restore the Monocacy Aqueduct, a 516-foot stone aqueduct that carries the C&O Canal over the Monocacy River.
Considered a major conservation success story, the Monocacy Aqueduct had been designated one of 11 most endangered historic structures or places in the United States by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The restoration project began in 2002 and cost over $6 million to complete.
Following the 1972 Hurricane Agnes flood, the National Park Service and the Federal Highway Administration designed a steel and wood banding support system for stabilizing the structure, installing a steel rod reinforcing system within the structure. Following the two major floods of 1996, the National Park Service began a condition assessment, physical analysis and alternative stabilization proposal for the Monocacy Aqueduct.
The primary goal of the National Park Service for the Monocacy Aqueduct was to identify a stabilization solution that would be sustainable and cost effective, and that would provide for the support system so that the structure could be viewed as it was originally constructed.
“This project demonstrates what can be accomplished with strong partners such as the ones who’ve worked together on this project,” said Joe Lawler, Regional Director of the National Park Service’s National Capital Region. “We could not have accomplished what we have without the joint efforts of so many.”
“The National Park Service has done a superb job of bringing the Monocacy Aqueduct back from disrepair since its addition to the National Trust’s America’s 11-Most Endangered Historic Places list in 1998,” said Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Thanks to the Maryland Congressional delegation and so many other dedicated people, the Aqueduct will continue to uphold its legacy as a leading example of American civil engineering and will remain a vital recreational resource for the Region.”
The C&O Canal Association, a major partner and non-profit park support group, raised more than $150,000 for the restoration project. That amount was raised largely through small donations, thus indicating broad support for preservation of the Monocacy Aqueduct.
The Monocacy Aqueduct is the largest of 11 aqueducts constructed by the C&O Canal Company, with construction beginning in 1829 and lasting until 1833. Much of the building material is white granite and quartzite blocks quarried at the base of nearby Sugarloaf Mountain. Benjamin Wright, the C&O Canal Chief Engineer and considered by many as the father of American Civil Engineering, designed the Monocacy Aqueduct. Wright was one of the lead engineers on the Erie Canal before beginning work on the C&O Canal.
Did You Know?
Most freight boats on the C&O Canal were approximately 95 feet long and 14.5 feet wide while most locks were 100 feet long and 15 feet wide. This left boat captains little margin for error as they steered their boats into the locks, trying to avoid the $5.00 fine for damaging lock masonry.