The Four Locks Community

Photo of historic four locks
Four locks is full of history and culture.

NPS Photo

The Four Locks community developed in a region where the Potomac River makes a hairpin turn, traveling a loop of about four and half miles before returning to within a half mile of itself. The Canal Company decided to shorten its route by cutting across the neck rather than following there river bank. This decision created problems, though, because it meant they had to build four locks (numbers 47 through 50) close together to compensate for the rise of the river over those four-and-a half miles. The community that developed there consisted of several buildings, including a lockhouse (a home for the lockkeeper and his family), a store, several houses, a barn, a wait house (for those on the boats), a warehouse, and a school.

Questions for Photo 1

1. Why might a store at Four Locks attract a lot of business? In other words, why might a family be more likely to shop there than at a store near just one lock?

2. Why would a school be located in such a remote area?

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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