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  • Writer's pictureTim Murphy

C&O Canal Trip: Day 2

Starting Point: Paw Paw, WV (mile marker 156.2)

End Point: Williamsport, MD (mile marker 99.2)

Total Distance: 57 miles

I stayed overnight at the Wrenwood Inn in Paw Paw, WV, owned and operated by a lovely couple named Scott and Carol. After a hearty breakfast and homemade brownies as parting gifts, I got back on the trail at around 9:30 this morning. Not even a mile down the trail, I came across the Paw Paw Tunnel. The tunnel was completed in 1838 and stretches 3,118 feet through a mountain! Walking through, the trail became pitch black and all around I could hear the echoing of water droplets dripping from the ceiling to the canal floor. It was kind of an eerie experience, especially since the tunnel is rumored to be haunted.

Entrance to the Paw Paw Tunnel

For the majority of the day, I was the only one on the trail. It was complete desolate, which is absurd considering the weather was beautiful to say the least: 68 and sunny the whole day! It wasn't until I reached the Round Top Cement Mill did I come across any trail-goers. The ruins of this plant are quite impressive. Portions of the factory still stand and the furnaces are built into the side of the mountains.

Around midday, I stopped in the town of Hancock, MD. I stayed for only a short while, but it was a nice little canal town from what I could tell. It didn't help that the museums and visitors center were closed when I rolled through, or else I would have stayed longer.

What's a biking trip without visiting a pre-revolutionary stone fort? Not too far off the trail by mile marker 112 stands Fort Frederick. This impressive structure was built in 1756 and stood as Maryland's frontier defense during the French and Indian War. The fort was reconstructed in 1975 and includes soldiers barracks inside the walls. When the park is in season, park workers fire cannons, perform reenactments, and host community events.

Fort Frederick

I reached Williamsport at 4:30 this afternoon. The entire trip today in total lasted a good seven hours, including breaks. My legs were definitely thanking me when I came to a stop. And my stomach was thanking me when I finally got a nice home-cooked meal at the Desert Rose Café. There was still a good amount of daylight left so I decided to walk around the town a bit. I came across these cannon mounts and read that Abner Doubleday, captain in the Union Army, built the siege guns in 1861. And, for those of you who don't know, Doubleday was responsible for creating a little game called baseball: America's Pastime! As an added bonus, Doubleday was from Ballston Spa, NY, the same town where I lived for the first six years of my life. Below are some more pictures from the day:

For more info on the Paw Paw Tunnel:

For more on Round Top:

For more info on Hancock:

For more on Fort Frederick:

For more on Charles Mill:


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