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Title: Sometub's Cruise on the C. & O. Canal - The narrative of a motorboat vacation in the heart of Maryland
Author: Cowan, John Pryor
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sometub's Cruise on the C. & O. Canal - The narrative of a motorboat vacation in the heart of Maryland" ***

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[Transcriber's Note: As this is a narrative, all spelling errors were
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    _The Narrative of a Motorboat
    Vacation in the Heart
    of Maryland_



    _Copyright, 1916, by John P. Cowan_


    _This Edition is Limited to
    200 Copies of Which This
    is No._



THIS is a story of the initial cruise of "Sometub"--a narrative of the
voyage of the newest type boat on America's oldest improved waterway.
We exalted 30 cent gasoline and eased our conscience by following in
the patriotic footsteps of George Washington.

Amid nature's most magnificent scenery we linked the romance of
yesterday with the humdrum of the workaday present. We established a
new maxim, namely: To avoid the beaten path take the towpath!

We enjoyed to the superlative degree the rare privilege of "Seeing
America First," because we saw it as the first American saw it.

    J. P. C.

    Pittsburgh, Pa.,
    December 7th, 1916.

[Illustration: Sunlight Vista on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal]



THE cruise of the "Sometub" began at Oakmont on the Allegheny river
in Pennsylvania and ended in Rock Creek in the shadow of the national
capitol in the District of Columbia. In a total distance of 347
miles the little craft traversed six navigable waterways. Of course,
there was a portage of 150 miles, but this was accomplished without
inconvenience and provided a seasonable period to re-provision the
boat. Moreover, the 150-mile trip overland demonstrated the advantage
of a portable cruiser--of which "Sometub" has the distinction of being
the first in its class.

"Sometub" narrowly escaped being christened "Kitchen Maid." It is
literally a kitchen-made craft, that is, it was put together in
the kitchen after its knockdown frame was received from a Michigan
boatbuilder. When culinary activities in the aforesaid kitchen were
partially suspended it afforded an ideal boatyard, but the fact that
a kitchen would be put to such extraordinary use there was attracted
thither a constant line of spectators, the majority of whom had as
little nautical knowledge as the builders. Propped up on a stepladder
the bony frame of the future boat looked like one of those uncanny
paleontological specimens in the Carnegie museum, and drew from the
visitors a flow of remarks entirely irrelevant to boatbuilding. Nearly
everyone doubted that the thing would be made to float, but a few who
were too polite to express their views went to the opposite extreme
and indulged in a line of flattery that was more irritating than the
skeptcism of the doubting Thomases.

"Well, that's some tub!" The oft repeated phrase trickled away
somewhere into the damaged wall paper of the kitchen or into the big
paint spot that ruined the linoleum, and when the time came to name
the boat the words came back sufficiently anglicized and properly
compounded--"Sometub." And it stuck!

"Sometub" has been laughed at by hundreds of persons who will never
know how it received its name. It looks less tub-like than the majority
of motorboats. The Brooks Manufacturing Company up in Saginaw, from
whom I bought the knockdown frame, doubtless would object to the
innuendo suggesting tubbiness because they boast of it as one of their
latest and most graceful models--a semi-V bottom shape which is
especially noted both for speed and seaworthiness. And it is all they
claim for it, and more, too!

"Sometub" is 15 feet long by 43 inches on the beam. We took liberties
with the Brooks plan by constructing a bulkhead which enclosed five
feet of the bow. This left a 10-foot cockpit, over which was erected a
portable canopy top. Curtains that hung on the sides of the canopy made
a snug cabin 10 × 3½ feet. For motive power we use an Evinrude motor.
By the way, it is one of those coffee mill affairs that you screw on
the stern of a skiff or rowboat. "Sometub" was designed for this very
sort of equipment and the theory worked out beautifully--until the
motor went wrong. And there lies the key to all the villainy that will
be divulged in this plain tale of the cruise of "Sometub" from Oakmont
to Washington.

On account of the 150-mile portage from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Md.,
it is advisable to allow seven days from the time of your departure
on the Allegheny until your expected sailing from the other terminal
of the portage. In these seven days you will make the run down to the
Pittsburgh Baltimore & Ohio freight station at Water street, pack your
engine and duffle, bail out the boat, cart it to the Cumberland local
freight car, see it stowed away and spend four days hoping that it
will arrive in Cumberland before you and your cargo. Of course, your
hopes will be blasted, but to hope is human. Anyhow, you might as well
realize at the outset that cross-country cruising is to be an intensely
human experience.

There was no ceremony when we backed out of a stall at the Oakmont Boat
Club in the late afternoon of the 9th of last July and picked our way
between the bathers, canoes and rowboats that clustered there. Even
if there had been occasion for ceremony, the thought that we had to
reach the Aspinwall lock before 6 o'clock or wait another hour, "on the
hour," caused us to lay a course straight for Nine-mile Island. With
its balky Evinrude five miles an hour is "Sometub's" best speed. Past
colonies of summer camps on the O'Hara township bank of the Allegheny
we continued our way hearing a giggle now and then as a maid in a canoe
or on shore caught sight of the aluminum letters on our bow and spelled
out "S-o-m-e-t-u-b." The tables were turned when we passed the "Ye
Gauds" camp. Phonetic spelling is epidemic among river campers. Their's
is not simplified, but rather perplexified spelling.

For a mile above Aspinwall dam the Allegheny in breezy weather has
all the choppiness of a landlocked lake and affords the exhileration
of boating that is enjoyed on a much larger body of water. Here we
witnessed a scene that was in strange contrast with the gayety farther
up the river. Below the mouth of Squaw Run a group of terrifed children
stood on the bank intently watching a skiff which was being rowed
slowly down stream. At the oars was a youth vainly trying to look brave
while at the stern a grizzled riverman dragged a grappling iron. It was
the sequel to an old story. They were searching for the body of a boy
who had been drowned an hour before while trying to exchange seats in a

To make the Aspinwall lock on schedule time is always cause for joy
by the humble owner of a motorboat. If he is not there "on the hour"
he must wait until another 60 minutes have elapsed before the opening
of the gates, unless a towboat should happen along. The same rule is
in force at Lock No. 1 at Herr's Island. Here we arrived "in between
times," but the gates were open and we started in. A lock tender caught
sight of "Sometub" and waved frantically for us to get out and tie up
alongside a barge which lay near the shore. Astern was the towboat
Crucible making her way into the lock with a steel boat in tow. We
followed the locktender's directions, but when the big craft approached
and the pilot had sized us up, he stepped out on the hurricane deck
and pointed a place for us to tie in the lock. When our motor began to
sputter and he saw the name of the boat he laughed heartily and seemed
to share our delight in getting into the lock chamber ahead of the
Crucible. We soon chugged out and 15 minutes later rounded the Point,
anointing "Sometub" for the first time with the waters of the Ohio.
Running up the Monongahela in the twilight we moored at the motorboat
landing at the foot of Smithfield street. Here the boat was taken from
the water and shipped to Cumberland.

I have said that we eased our conscience by following the patriotic
footsteps of George Washington. We struck the sacred trail in the first
hour of our cruise when, running down the Allegheny we scudded under
the decrepit Forty-third street bridge and past the historic point that
once was separated from the mainland and was known as Wainwright's
Island. From this point until the end of the journey we were constantly
on ground intimately associated with the life of Washington.

Indeed if it had not been for the enterprise of Washington the cruise
never would have been possible; if it had not been for Washington the
Chesapeake and Ohio canal would not have been projected, and without
this pioneer waterway the valley of the upper Potomac would be a
solitary wilderness. The Baltimore and Ohio railroad only followed its
aquatic pacemaker and was pushed westward over the identical route
Washington had laid out for his canal to connect the waters of the
Potomac with those of the tributaries of the Ohio, the eastern link of
the intercontinental route which he dreamed would some day connect the
Atlantic seaboard with the great lakes, and the Mississippi valley. The
Lake Erie and Ohio river ship canal is but a revival of Washington's
gigantic project. "The Father of His Country" was a century and a half
ahead of the times in his comprehension of the transportation problem.

The history of the construction of this canal is a commercial romance
replete with many a fascinating chapter involving personal peril,
adventures, triumphs, failures and political intrigue; for four bloody
years during the Civil war its right of way was held alternately by the
Union and the Confederate armies, and many a grim tragedy was enacted
there; today it is one of the few places in the country where the
oldtime canal boat is to be seen in practical operation.

But the story of the canal will come further along. It is essential
in the narrative of the initial cruise of "Sometub" because its
towpath, worn by 20 successive progenies of mules, is the path that
paradoxically leads far, far away from the beaten path of modern travel.

On Saturday evening, July 15th, we reached Cumberland. Rain was falling
but this did not deter us from launching "Sometub" in the waters of
the canal. We had made up our minds that rain must be disregarded--and
subsequent experience proved that this step toward resignation to
the elements was well taken. Before the voyage was three days old we
realized that Jupiter Pluvius was a stowaway with us. For 100 miles
we were the harbingers of showers, the advance agents of thunder,
lightning, rain and cloudbursts.

We had hoped to leave Cumberland before sunset and tie up for the
night far from the noise of the city, but the best we could do between
showers was to put everything in shipshape and wait for the dawn. Rain
pattered down all night long and came in repeated gusts during the
day. In the meantime we sat on the hospitable porch of a retired canal
boat skipper and listened to his reminiscences of the "good old days."
Our delay just now was due to our failure to procure our waybill,
a document which gave us the right of way through the locks from
Cumberland to Georgetown. In this document "Sometub" was put down as a
motor-propelled craft of one ton net register and stipulated that it
should proceed at a speed not exceeding four miles an hour. The waybill
cost $5.10.

Late in the afternoon we were informed that a deputy collector of the
port, who lived "down the canal beyond the bridge," would hand us our
waybill as we passed. Simultaneously with this good news the rain
ceased and the sun came out in radiant glory. In two minutes we were
away and broke the speed limit with the impunity of a motor driver
who knows that if he does not exceed the legal speed his machine will
stop altogether. We made a dash for the waybill. "Pshaw!" exclaimed the
collector. "It's too bad I didn't know the name of your boat. I just
wrote 'launch.' If I had known it had a name like that I would have put
it down, sure."

"What are the rules?" we asked him.

"Keep to the left--always--that's all. Tie up on the berm side (to the
left) and don't let yourself get dragged into the flume by the current
at the locks." We thanked him and started again. We rounded the big
bend of the Potomac, turning to the eastward where the blue horizon
of the mountains melted into the blue-gray mists and clouds of the
weeping sky. In what seemed an increditably short time we had left the
city behind and glided along the vine-fringed, ribbon-like pool that
wound its way into sequestered solitudes among the towering hills. Here
and there a farmhouse was visible in the distance on the uplands and
occasionally a lonely cabin squatted among the willows and dank weeds
that grew in the marshy places, but for the greater part of our run on
this level we hugged close to the hillside or proceeded through courses
of broad meadows.

It was the first time an outboard motor cruiser had been seen on
the canal, and for that matter in the Potomac valley, and "Sometub"
attracted much attention among the country folk and the crews of the
boats. We passed our first canal boat beyond South Cumberland at a
point where the channel was scarcely 30 feet wide and narrowly escaped
rasping off our propeller on a ledge of rocks that formed the berm
bank, our danger being due to the provokingly deliberate action of
the steersman on the big mule-drawn hulk. After that we waited for
sufficient leeway before attempting to pass canal boats in narrow

At sunset a whitewashed log house came into view and as we approached
we recognized the huge arms of the lock gates. Beyond the locktender's
cabin we saw the roofs of the houses in the little village of North
Branch, Md. Here was our first lock, the first of the 75 in 184 miles
on the canal between Cumberland and Georgetown. We were curious to
know how "Sometub" would behave in an old-fashioned lock with leaky
gates and were anxious to push on to the tunnel some 30 miles east
of Cumberland where the canal for nearly a mile of its course passes
underneath one of the lofty ridges of the Alleghanies. Ominous clouds
in the west hastened the approaching night. The proximity of a shelter
in case of a heavy rainstorm caused us to accept the locktender's
hospitality to tie up for the night alongside the flume at the head of
the lock.

[Illustration: Left--"Sometub" Emerging from Mile-Long Tunnel Under
Alleghany Mountains.

Above--Head of Navigation of Chesapeake and Ohio Canal at Cumberland,

Below--"Sometub" Leaving Oakmont on Allegheny River.]

Making the boat fast to the lockhouse we lighted our oil lantern,
dropped the side curtains and disregarded the returning rain while we
prepared dinner on two small stoves formed by a pair of tripod rings
containing cans of solid alcohol. Motor boating creates a genuine
appetite and we had all the facilities for preparing a good dinner
in the smallest possible space. The deck of "Sometub" provided a dry
place for the storing of bedding, dishes and supplies and there was
no crowding at mealtime. After dinner we wrote up the log, spread a
mattress in the bottom of the boat, fastened down the curtains and
retired early.

The night was inky dark. The lights in the locktender's dwelling were
extinguished before 9 o'clock and the denizens of the village of North
Branch, several hundred yards away, seemed to seek repose at the same
hour. The solitude of the place grew oppressive. About midnight we were
aroused by a shriek that pierced the night air and echoed back from the
mountains across the river. Parting the curtains, we saw two sheeted
forms on the towpath, their ghostly outlines standing out against
the cloudy sky, while the waters of the canal reflected a pair of
shimmering specters which at first glance were calculated to make the
average stranger wish that he made this trip in a Pullman car.

Again the shrieking broke forth and the sheeted forms began to move. We
were undergoing our initiation in night traveling on the canal, but we
didn't realize it at the time.


OF THOSE ghosts that are simply ghosts I have no fear. Some persons
whistle when they pass country graveyards after dark in order, they
say, to keep up courage; for the same reason I sometimes whistle
on Broadway. Specters are harmless if they do not assume material
form. The apparitions on the Chesapeake and Ohio canal towpath soon
lost their ethereal quality in our vision and the unearthly noise
that accompanied their manifestation translated itself into "you
black-hearted, ornery, low-lifed beggar--geddap!"

There was a familiar rattle of harness. The specters moved again, but
more quickly this time. Against the black infiniteness of the mountains
across the river were the shadowy forms of a pair of gray mules hitched
in tandem. Wearily they plodded off, and moving slowly, tediously,
silently behind them a canal boat followed along at the end of an
invisible towline.

A canal boat at night is a great hulk of hush. Its silence is
positively uncanny. A few ripples momentarily disturb the placid
surface of the water but as they swirl around the craft they seem to
beckon a state of funereal quietude. You can hardly blame the midnight
driver of the canal boat for his profane vociferousness in addressing
his mules. His voice alone breaks the death-like stillness. After the
lock has been passed and the patient animals take up their gait, even
he is overcome by the environment and relapses into drowsy silence.

At intervals through the night other specters appeared over there
on the towpath and their advent invariably was heralded by the same
hair-raising shouts. The noise of cussing the poor mules followed
as certainly as the agonizing "low music" during tense moments in a

Tardy dawn ushered in a gloomy day. We placed our "canned heat" range
on a lumber pile beside the North Branch lockhouse and had our coffee
and bacon progressing satisfactorily toward the proper elements of an
al fresco breakfast when rain began to fall. We retreated to the boat.
The rain continued unabated and we breakfasted on board. Inasmuch as
we were obliged to keep the curtains down and tuck the baggage under a
poncho, it was impracticable--we thought--to proceed on our journey.

The locktender's office at North Branch has seen service for more than
half a century. We can testify to this because after we had sought its
shelter and read all the magazines bought on the beginning of the trip
we turned to a perusal of the lockmaster's records. These books date
back to the 60's and it was fascinating to read on the faded pages
the entries for the boats and cargoes of a by-gone era. The boats now
operating are distinguished by numbers from 1 to 100, but in the old
days they bore names, suggestive, no doubt, of their architecture and
other characteristics, or of the ambition of their owners.

Noon brought no cessation of the rain. We ate luncheon in the office.
"Star boarders" could not have reported more promptly at meal time.
Good appetites were the most encouraging features of this portion of
the trip. At 2 o'clock in the afternoon the skies cleared slightly
and in a few minutes we resumed our voyage. The three locks at North
Branch, Nos. 75, 74 and 73, respectively, were negotiated in less than
15 minutes and we found ourselves on "Oldtown level."

In the language of the boatmen and the denizens of the canal country
all geographical distinctions are made strictly "on the level." A
"level," we learned, is that stretch of the canal between two given
locks. From Cumberland to Georgetown (Washington) there are 75 locks,
and consequently the same number of levels, plus one.

There is an ancient and honorable superstition to the effect that the
person who sets out on a journey and turns back is certain to meet
with disappointment. Ten minutes after we departed from North Branch
we remembered that we had left our maps behind in the lockmaster's
office. The maps, United States Geological Survey quadrangles,
were indispensable and we turned back. Prompt and speedy came our

       *       *       *       *       *

OLDTOWN LEVEL is about 10 miles long. We estimated that we could reach
Oldtown village in about two hours. While the idle hours had dragged
along in the sleepy hamlet of North Branch we looked forward longingly
to Oldtown. The name sounded enchanting and moreover we were told
that we could procure gasoline, groceries and our favorite brands of
confectionery there. After running merrily about seven miles our motor
stopped cold. No amount of coaxing would make it run. Gathering clouds
betokened a resumption of the rain. No human habitation was in sight.

The motor's affliction was difficult of diagnosis, but its trouble
appeared to be serious. I had just made up my mind that the boat would
have to be paddled or towed to the end of the level when Canal Boat
No. 14 eased along. The skipper inquired we were "in trouble." It was
mere charity and politeness of him to ask, because the expression on
our faces must have told him that we regarded our condition as one of
dire distress.

"His en-jine's done busted," shouted the little ragged muleteer as he
passed us on his plodding animals.

"Ketch the line," advised the skipper, while we grasped the piece of
rope he tossed toward us. Making his rope fast to a cleat on the bow we
saw "Sometub" humiliated by being towed at the stern of a slow-moving
freight boat towed in turn by two decrepit mules. "Sometub" felt the
disgrace keenly and jerked about like an unbroken colt that feels a
rein for the first time. Only strenuous use of the paddle as a steering
oar kept the proud little boat in the channel. In this way we moved
stupidly into Oldtown. An hour and a half was required to go less than
three miles.

On reaching the lock at Oldtown it was apparent that there would not
be room between the gates to accommodate both the canal boat and
"Sometub," and the skipper cast us off in a fashion so uncermonious
that we floated in his wake feeling like unbidden guests at a feast.
The big freight boat glided away, leaving us on the wrong side of the
gate. You know how sometimes you turn and drive away the homeless dog
that sheepishly follows you down the street? Well, we felt placed in
the situation of the homeless dog.

It was the first time in my life that I experienced a sincere desire to
embrace the teachings of anarchy. After the canal boat had started on
its way Mr. Carter, the lockmaster, returned to inquire into our wants.

"What are you going to do with us?" I asked him.

"Lock you through," he answered. "Give me your line and I'll tow you
in. Then you can tie up over there and stop at my house all night.
My wife will have a nice hot supper for you. The gentleman who runs
the store up on the hill has an automobile and knows a lot about gas
engines. I know he'll be delighted to fix up your machine."

It was hard to believe that he meant what he said. He had enunciated
that kind of hospitality which I had thought no longer existed except
in books that sell at $1.08. My wife, however, did not share my
skepticism. Here was good old-fashioned southern hospitality and she
emphasized the fact with some pride that we were now well over the
Mason & Dixon line and might expect cordiality to be something more
than a meaningless phrase. She rushed across the towpath to chat with
the lockmaster's wife and daughters while Mr. Carter towed "Sometub"
through the lock and found a suitable place to tie up on the berm bank
of the short level.

       *       *       *       *       *

OLDTOWN, I believe, was called Oldtown even in its younger days. I
believe also that now in its boast of municipal veneration it looks
younger than it did in its youth. The wrinkled visage of great age is
in strange contrast with its modern affectations. Personify it and you
would have the picture of a centenarian doing a fox trot. Oldtown is
one of the oldest settlements in western Maryland and it dwelt on in
a kind of proud senility until West Virginia went "dry." Being on the
border Oldtown possessed a situation of peculiar strategic value. It
afforded the opportunity for the establishment of an exceedingly "wet"
outpost, and the opportunity did not go begging. In consequence the
chief enterprise of Oldtown is slaking the thirsts of West Virginians
from many miles up and down the Potomac. The structures that domicile
these establishments form a cluster of new buildings that gives Oldtown
something of the appearance of a boom town in the west. A sincere
opponent of the liquor traffic would be justified in saying that
Oldtown is in its second childhood.

With many thanks we declined the hospitality of the whole-souled
lockmaster and his family and cooked our dinner in a drizzling rain
and "tinkered" on the motor until after midnight. The knowledge that
we were among friends enabled us to make ourselves comfortable for the
night regardless of the weather.

In the morning we were awakened by a call from Mr. Carter. He came
to give me "a lift" with the motor. As a last forlorn hope I gave
the flywheel a twirl--and it went! We made all haste to depart and
before the sun had reached the mountain tops we were under way. With
good behavior on the part of the motor "Sometub" is the spryest young
boat you ever saw, and on this Tuesday, July 18th, we made our record
run. The sky was cloudless and out in the meadows we watched farmers
and harvest hands sweltering in the broiling sun, but in the shade of
the stately trees that form an arch over the canal in this region we
enjoyed a delightful atmosphere. Steep cliffs enclose the north bank
of the canal and over these in luxuriant profusion were seemingly
endless brambles of blackberry vines burdened with luscious ripe fruit.
For luncheon we skirted the cliffs and picked a dish of berries which
with crackers and tea enabled us to have a unique and delicious repast
without tying up the boat.

Our logbook for this day contains nevertheless many entries of enforced
stops. Wild grass growing up in the bottom of the canal checked us
frequently and necessitated removing long coils that choked the
propeller. Shortly after noon we reached the tunnel which carries the
waters of the canal for seven-eighths of a mile under one of the lofty
ridges of the Alleghanies. The channel is barely wide enough to allow
the passage of a single craft and we knew that we must hold the right
of way or back out in case we should meet a canal boat. The tunnel has
no lights and when you get into its depths it is a veritable black hole
in the ground.

Fixing our red and green running lights we started bravely in, but
after going a dozen yards we struck windrows of grass and weeds which
made it impossible for our propeller to turn. There was but one thing
to do, and I climbed out on the narrow shelf of a towpath and took the
end of the line while my better, and on this occasion, less nervous
half, caught up the paddle and steered. The towpath in the tunnel is
intended only for mules. In many places are mountain springs whose
icy waters trickle down through the old brick walls and transform the
towpath into soft mire that is knee deep. It was the longest seven
furlongs I ever trod and I came out of the tunnel with a feeling of
profound respect for the canal boat mule.

Our cruise during the remainder of the afternoon was delightful. Here
is the wildest scenery in the upper Potomac valley and there are few
settlements. The locktenders were the only persons we saw for hours
at a time and the locks were few. Likewise on this part of our run
we passed no boats. We felt real neighborly toward the train crews
on the Baltimore and Ohio and Western Maryland railroads when they
condescended to look at us as they sped past. For miles, however, no
railroad was in sight.

       *       *       *       *       *

A COUNTRY store keeper at Little Orleans, who dealt in everything from
women's "fashionable gowns" to fresh fish and from "near beer" to
gasoline, enabled us to continue our voyage without delay. From him we
purchased a supply of gasoline, oil and tobacco--three important items
for the "engine room." When the motor is out of order the consumption
of tobacco is particularly heavy.

In the twilight we passed the village of Pearre and at dark drew up
alongside the dock of the Woodmont Hunting and Fishing Club. Dinner
was late this night but the weather was perfect and no fashionable
restaurant could have offered more inviting surroundings for the diner
with an appetite whetted by a day of toil in the great outdoors. We
sat in the boat and used the dock for a table. And we would not have
exchanged the privilege for the finest mahogany ever turned out!

We were in Dixie now, sure enough. On the clubhouse porch up on the
hill a party of young people were holding a dance which was enlivened
by singing oldtime songs that recalled our presence in the beloved
Southland. As two tired voyagers dropped off to slumber they heard the
sweet strains of an inspiring melody that floated on the still night
air far across the Potomac hills--

    _For life and death, for woe and weal,
    Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
    And gird thy beauteous limbs with steel,
        Maryland, my Maryland!_


"THE HEART OF MARYLAND" is quite as elusive, geographically, as the
phrase is trite. After being lulled to sleep at Woodmont by the old
wartime song and awakened on a sunny morning by the carols of thrush
and mockingbird, we felt that the enchanted land of romance in the old
Cavalier commonwealth must indeed be near at hand.

We made no haste to leave the hospitable dock at Woodmont. The day was
ideal and our camera was chaffing under long idleness. I had passed
this point a score of times on daylight trains of the Baltimore and
Ohio railroad and longed for an opportunity to tarry here. On our
voyage in "Sometub" we realized the oft-repeated wish and made the most
of it.

A heartless motor, however, robbed the "heart of Maryland" of much of
its heartsomeness--for us. Leaving Woodmont about the middle of the
forenoon on Wednesday, July 19, we ran past the ancient settlement
of Sir John's Run, proceeded on under the shadow of Round Mountain,
in Maryland, and picturesque Lover's Leap, in West Virginia, and
glided into the prosperous looking town of Hancock shortly after 2
o'clock. Hancock gained fame in the winter of 1861-62 when Stonewall
Jackson, from the hills south of the Potomac, deigned to throw a few
shells into this Maryland village. It was not a sanguinary battle,
but at that early period in the war it was considered a bold thing
for the Confederate leader to do, and for the time being disturbed
the "alls-quiet-along-the-Potomac" that had become stereotyped in the
reports of the military situation farther down the stream. At Hancock
a short spur of the Baltimore and Ohio runs up to Berkley Springs, a
watering place that boasts of patronage by Virginia aristocrats back in
George Washington's time.

Resolved that we would forego the luxury of luncheon on board, we
tied up under the highway bridge, left "Sometub" in charge of the
toll-keeper and strolled into town. At the hotel we were too late
for dinner and were told that the dining room would not be open for
the service of supper until 6 o'clock. In desperation we sought a
restaurant--and in two minutes regretted that we had not prepared our
own luncheon on the boat.

[Illustration: Picturesque Water Mill Beside the Potomac]

Isn't it peculiar how the smallest trifles will alter the most
elaborate plans? A trifling ham sandwich in a two by four restaurant
caused us to evacuate Hancock forthwith. We had intended to remain here
a day or longer, run over to Berkley Springs and perhaps go fishing.
Instead we left town so precipitately that we forgot to stop at the
postoffice and ask if our mail had been forwarded.

       *       *       *       *       *

A FEW miles east of Hancock is a wide-water a mile long in the canal
known as Little Pool, the channel being about the width of the
Monongahela river at the Smithfield street bridge. From Hancock to
this point we were obliged to stop frequently on account of grass that
clogged the propeller, and on entering Little Pool the obstruction
was so great that it was necessary to get out and tow several hundred
yards. When clear water was regained the motor began to show signs of
balking, and after a heart-rending effort to repair it on the towpath,
we threw the thing into the boat and paddled our way through the rural
hamlet of Millstone where housewives, milking their cows on the bank
of the canal, stared at us pityingly as we labored by. Cow stables and
pig stys on the berm bank offered no mooring place in the town, and we
plied the paddle until we reached a secluded stretch of woodland where
we could be alone in our chagrin over the obstinacy of the motor.

When we lighted our lantern we were annoyed for the first time by a
swarm of mosquitoes. We had been warned before the trip that these
insects on the canal were related to the Jersey "man-eaters" and would
make life miserable on our cruise. We were prepared for their ravages,
but fortunately a little breeze sprang up after nightfall and they gave
us no more trouble. They were the only militant mosquitoes that we saw
between Cumberland and Georgetown.

As if gloating over our discomfiture in having lost our motive power, a
double-bass bullfrog started in to make the night hideous. His favorite
singing dias was in the pool right under the bow of the boat. When a
stone was thrown in his direction he retreated into deep water, but
invariably returned. Late in the night I hit upon the expedient of
pouring a pint of 30-cent gasoline on the water. The croaker croaked no

In the morning a little tinkering was rewarded by the motor showing
signs of renewing operations and we started in high hopes, but after
a few hundred rods it was apparent that we were making little speed
and we limped into the tiny hamlet of Ernestville where we stopped for
supplies and fresh water. Ernestville is a poor shopping center and
fresh water and kerosene were about all we could obtain.

Along this stretch of the canal it is paralleled for a considerable
distance by the old National Pike, which on this particular morning
was thronged by automobile tourists. As they sped by we knew that they
would be in Hagerstown in an hour. We wondered if we would reach there
in a day. It was apparent now that we must take our crippled motor to a
garage and Hagerstown was the nearest point where we could obtain the
services of a mechanic skilled in repairing marine engines. To reach
Hagerstown from the canal we decided to stop at Williamsport and this
was now our goal.

       *       *       *       *       *

BIG POOL is a widewater where the canal broadens into a beautiful lake
nearly a mile wide and more than a mile long. Our balky motor pushed
us into this big sheet of water and then stopped with a derisive
screech. It was the ultimatum of a dry bearing and it was inexorable.
While we were floundering in the breeze and trying to paddle ashore,
a motorboat came alongside and its occupants inspected our equipment.
"Sometub" they liked immensely, but the engine perplexed them. We were
looking for neither advice nor sympathy and the stranger who acted very
superior and said, "I have a Koban," didn't improve his favor in our

Then into our lives came a heroic figure. Just at that moment he
appeared the greatest man in the world--philanthropist, navigator,
philosopher! He was the skipper of Canal Boat No. 18 which swept
majestically down the pool. His boat appeared as big and formidable as
the new superdreadnaught Pennsylvania. Dexterous work with the paddle
enabled us to get in its lee. Up there on his quarterdeck stood the
skipper. I since believe that he must have resembled Noah, but to we
two--we felt like castaways--he was indeed a mighty admiral. But he was
the admiral of a friendly power and amid all his dignity there was a
benign expression also of stern consideration for a brother mariner in
distress. We gazed at him and his noble craft in mute appeal.

"Ketch the line!"

Like spent swimmers grasping for a straw, we seized the line and made
it fast. For the second time "Sometub" was humiliated by being towed by
a prosaic freight boat.

[Illustration: Above--Upper Level at Four Locks

Below--Old-Time Mill]

Two miles an hour is top speed for a laden canal boat and No. 18's
tired mules kept well inside this limit. At the end of the towline
we nosed along in perfect complacency. We chatted with the skipper,
admired the scenery, examined our maps of the route, chaffed the
villagers, ate our luncheon, jogged the motor, read a little, took
short naps and made ourselves absolutely comfortable. Our only effort
was to keep on the shady side of the boat, for the weather was the
hottest we had endured. As a remedy for tired nerves I can testify to
the curative qualities of canalboating.

The skipper was a man of parts. He had run the canal for more than
20 years. He had walked every inch of the towpath from Cumberland to
Washington every hour of the day and night and he declared that he
could pace those 184 miles with his eyes blindfolded. He recognized
every hill and house and tree and could tell their history. He knew all
the neighborhood gossip, and all the neighbors knew him.

Toward the end of the drowsy afternoon we floated into the little
village of Four Locks which takes its name from the fact that a chain
of four locks are here. No. 18 cast us off and we prepared to paddle
through. To our surprise the motor condescended to run. At the time I
was ready to believe that it heard the mule driver's sublime cussing
and was frightened into obedience.

With the motor running again we soon passed No. 18 and snorted off
around a sharp bend, through Two Locks where we were lowered into the
waters of the Potomac. I say "snorted" advisedly. "Sometub" exhibited
colt-like behavior when unleashed from the slow-moving canal craft.
The towpath follows the northern bank of the river and the boats hug
the shore closely, but we careened far out into the stream. "Sometub"
had found a nautical playground more spacious than it had ever enjoyed

After a two-mile run on the river we entered another lock and once more
were confined to the comparatively narrow channel of the canal. We
found all conditions favorable and at sunset we crossed the great stone
aqueduct over the winding Conococheague and a few minutes later tied up
at the Williamsport lock.

I was now on familiar ground. Eleven years before I had visited
historic Williamsport in quest of newspaper "feature stories," and a
decade had witnessed but little change in the place. In the early days
of the Federal government Williamsport was a pretentious bidder as
the seat for the national capital. In the Civil War it was a sort of
Pryzmyl, having been taken and retaken by the armies of both the north
and the south, but the town itself was of no importance except as the
key to strategic positions beyond. Here in June, 1863, the vanguard
of Lee's conquering legions crossed the Potomac when they swept down
the Shenandoah and crossed triumphantly into Pennsylvania, and here
less than a month later their ragged columns made a bold stand against
Meade's victorious forces while the retreating Confederates waited for
the flood to subside so that they could withdraw into Virginia. Along
the street that leads down to the river are many of the old houses
whose walls resounded with the tread of those valiant armies--Union and
Confederate. In those houses, too, many a soldier suffered the agony
of wounds received in the desperate charges at Gettysburg. Of those
southern heroes who raced with death from that immortal field, scores
gave up their lives here in sight of their native Virginia hills.

Williamsport today is another of those outposts for supplying alcoholic
drinks to bleary-eyed pilgrims from West Virginia and in consequence
does not afford hotel accommodations for the ordinary traveler. After
trying in vain to get dinner, we boarded a trolley car and 40 minutes
later reached Hagerstown where we stopped for the night, enjoying the
solid luxury of a "room with bath connecting."

       *       *       *       *       *

AMONG Hagerstown's well known business men is Mr. Walter E. Pattison, a
former Pittsburgher. We sent him a grape-vine telegram of our advent in
town and on coming down from breakfast in the morning he hailed us with
a motorcar and an invitation for a drive through Greater Hagerstown. We
accepted with alacrity, remembering the tedious hours of the previous
day, and made no objection when the chauffeur cut up didoes with the
Maryland speed limit.

Mr. Pattison accompanied us to Williamsport in the afternoon to see
"Sometub" and to join a little reunion with Col. George W. McCardell,
the veteran editor of the Williamsport _Leader_. Editor McCardell had
been looking for me for eleven years and we were somewhat in doubt as
to the outcome of the interview. The reason for his desire to lay hands
on me was, as nearly as I can remember, the following paragraph which
was printed over my name in the Pittsburgh _Gazette_ in the summer of

    The Williamsport Leader is more than a journalistic
    enterprise--it is a well founded institution. It is the
    oracle of rockribbed Democracy, the unflinching champion of
    pure Jeffersonism and unfaltering Andyjacksonism.... The
    editor will take two pairs of Maryland frying-size chickens
    on subscription, but of his Virginia subscribers he requires
    three pairs in advance because, he says, the Maryland
    pullets are better and more tender.

I resolved to meet the editor and finish the argument. Mr. Pattison
led the way to a new and prosperously attractive sanctum. It was
publication day--Friday--and Col. McCardell, after a strenuous week,
stood with folded arms beside an imposing stone with type still wet
from the day's "run." My wife, who embodies the traditions of five
generations of the editor's brand of politics but who stood ready to
defend the quality of Virginia chicken against the world, was the first
to enter the den of the journalistic lion. It was a clever ruse on
Mr. Pattison's part, for first of all Col. McCardell is a chivalrous
southern gentleman. Why, of course, Virginia fried chicken is the
finest in the land. And Virginia women compose the very flower of
American womanhood. Their presence here is welcomed like the May-time
sunshine. The Potomac ripples softly when they cross the river and in
the trees on the Maryland shore the summer zephyrs sing sweet benisons
to the fair daughters of the Old Dominion.

And when I entered the feud of eleven years had vanished. I could only
blush and bow my acknowledgements.

With fond good-byes to Col. McCardell and Mr. Pattison we departed in
the mid-afternoon bound for Mercerville by twilight in the hope that
we would have the following day to spend on Antietam battlefield. But
we had not reckoned with the elements. Four miles below Williamsport
a terrific storm burst upon us. So sudden was the tempest that we
were obliged to tie to the towpath bank to prevent the furious gales
of wind from capsizing the boat. For a few minutes it seemed that our
canopy would be torn to tatters. Our lines gave way and I climbed out
to steady the heaving craft. Then it rained in such torrents that
it momentarily took away my breath. Vivid flashes of lightning and
deafening thunder followed in instant succession. The wind wrenched big
sycamores from their roots and they crashed across the miry towpath
like jackstraws thrown by an angry giant. The storm lasted more than
an hour but a steady patter of rain followed. Our supplies stored
under the deck and protected by the poncho were dry, but our clothes
were dripping and the temperature had turned chill and raw. Darkness
was coming on and we prepared to tie up for the night. How bright and
warm looked the blue flame from the canned alcohol while we boiled our

It was a gloomy outlook, but southern hospitality which proved the
silver lining to every dark cloud on our cruise, once more intervened.
A farmer rode down the towpath and invited us to go to his house for
the night. Our good Samaritan was Mr. J. H. Wine, whose home nestles
snugly under the mountain beside the canal. We accepted with haste that
we hoped would indicate our extreme gratitude and soon had our dripping
duds spread out on the backs of chairs before the range in the spacious
kitchen. Mr. and Mrs. Wine tendered us the guest room and we sought
slumber early. Only the outdoor enthusiast would have been worthy of
the frugal breakfast in the morning. We thanked our good hosts and
prepared to depart. The question of remuneration for favors invariably
was spurned by the hospitable people on the canal.

The sun came out gloriously and we hoped to reach Mercerville by
noon. We did, but there the motor balked again and we spent two hours
trying to fix it. We gave up the thought of visiting Antietam and
about the time the shadows began to lengthen, started solemnly toward
Shepherdstown, five honest miles down the canal. We paddled and towed
alternately, making even slower progress than in the wake of No. 18.
Darkness came on and we were still on the lonely path. About 9 o'clock
we reached a lock and were told that Shepherdstown was still a mile
beyond. A storm was gathering and the lockmaster invited us to tie up
and spend the night in his house notwithstanding that it would place
several members of his large family at an inconvenience. We agreed to
leave the boat, but insisted on going to Shepherdstown where we could
find a hotel and a garage mechanic.

       *       *       *       *       *

AGAINST the protests of the lockmaster and his wife we lighted our
lantern and started down the lonely towpath. Black clouds obscured the
sky and we stumbled along at times having difficulty in keeping on the
path. Flashes of lightning and rumbling thunder betokened a storm that
would rival the one on the previous night. Our lantern's flickering
light only intensified the darkness but the lightning frequently
assisted us when its glare illuminated the entire landscape.

In our race with the storm we were the first under the wire. Fleeing
across the bridge over the Potomac we breathlessly climbed the hill
and along a dark street to the center of the town whither we had
been directed to the hotel. Suddenly we rounded a corner into an
electric-lighted thoroughfare and stood before the entrance of the
Rumsey House. Our clothes were wrinkled and we were splashed with
mud from head to foot. We still carried our lighted lantern and the
crowd at the hotel gazed at us with expressions twixt curiosity and
amazement. The proprietor was moved to commiseration.

"Come in here, you-all, right away," he said.


THE hallowed notes of church chimes awakened us on our first morning
in Shepherdstown and before the day was an hour older we felt grateful
to the motor for compelling our stop-over in this quaint community.
Geographically Shepherdstown is in West Virginia, but politically,
socially and traditionally it leans toward the Old Dominion. It lies
in Jefferson county at the foot of the beautiful Shenandoah valley
and is essentially southern. Its whole atmosphere and the sympathy
of its people belong distinctly to Piedmont Virginia. It is the
Alsace-Lorraine of America.

Next to Alexandria, Shepherdstown is perhaps the oldest important
settlement in the Potomac valley. It is one of the few old towns in the
country that has not been defaced by too much present day progress.
Shepherdstown has always been a substantial prosperous place and does
not affect the gewgaws of the new rich municipality. In some respects
it resembles Concord, Massachusetts. Its streets have many features
in common with the thoroughfares of the old-time New England towns.
In many of the residences are preserved some of the most striking
characteristics of chaste colonial architecture.

It was a restful place to spend Sunday and in the evening we joined
the villagers in a stroll through the shady streets and out on the
bluff overlooking the Potomac. Here on the edge of the cliffs on a
natural base of limestone rock is an imposing shaft lately erected
to the memory of James Rumsey, Shepherdstown pioneer and inventor of
the steamboat. Rumsey, you know, was the Langley of steam navigation.
While Prof. Langley originated the idea of the heavier than air system
of aeronautic transportation, his aeroplane, upon which experiments
were made on this same Potomac river, was not perfected to the point
of standing the practical test. Two bicycle mechanics in Dayton, Ohio,
were destined to make a crowning achievement where the scientist had
failed. Posterity will demand that the Wright brothers share their fame
with Langley.

[Illustration: Antietam Battlefield at Dunker Church (right) and
Cornfield (left) Across Hagerstown Pike]

Although Robert Fulton is popularly credited with the invention of
the steamboat, he only perfected the work which was started by Rumsey
in the waters of the Potomac at Shepherdstown in September, 1784. In
the presence of George Washington a boat which ascended the stream by
mechanical appliances was exhibited by Rumsey 23 years before Fulton's
Clermont made its memorable voyage on the Hudson.

The house in which Rumsey lived is one of the historic landmarks of
Shepherdstown. The inventor went to Europe and built a new boat which
made a successful trip on the Thames in December, 1792. A few weeks
later sudden death in the very prime of life cut short Rumsey's career.

In the Civil War Shepherdstown endured the agony but shared little of
the glory of battle. It is about eight miles north of Harper's Ferry
and less than four miles west of Antietam. Skirmishes took place here
early in the war and in September, 1862, it saw Stonewall Jackson's
famous foot cavalry sprint through this corner of Jefferson county in
his encircling movement for the capture of Harper's Ferry. A week later
echoes of the guns engaged in the bloody work at Antietam reverberated
against the hills around Shepherdstown and on the afternoon of that
17th day of September hundreds of mutilated men were carried into the
village and committed to the care of the townspeople.

The wounded were Confederate soldiers and from the majority of homes in
Shepherdstown had gone fathers, sons, brothers to fight under Lee or
Jackson. Marie Blunt, one of the heroic women who assisted caring for
the wounded, in describing that melancholy day, said:

"We went about our work with pale faces and trembling hands, yet trying
to appear composed for the sake of our patients, who were much excited.
We could hear the incessant explosions of artillery, the shrieking
whistling of the shells, and the sharper, deadlier, more thrilling roll
of musketry: while every now and then the echo of some charging cheer
would come, borne by the wind, and as the human voice pierced that
demoniacal clangor we would catch our breath and listen, and try not to
sob, and turn back to forlorn hospitals, to the suffering at our feet
and before our eyes, while imagination fainted at the thought of those
other scenes hidden from us beyond the Potomac.

"On our side of the river there were noise, confusion, dust; throngs
of stragglers; horsemen galloping about; wagons blocking each other,
and teamsters wrangling; and a continued din of shouting, swearing
and rumbling, in the midst of which men were dying, fresh wounded
arriving, surgeons amputating limbs and dressing wounds, women going in
and out with bandages, lint, medicines, food. An everpresent sense of
anguish, dread, pity, and, I fear, hatred--these are my recollections
of Antietam."

       *       *       *       *       *

LEAVING our invalid motor in care of a garage mechanic we boarded a
Norfolk & Western train Monday morning to visit Antietam battlefield.
It is a ride of less than 10 minutes from Shepherdstown to the station
of Antietam which is adjacent to the village of Sharpsburg. The half a
century that has passed since the war has witnessed but slight change
here. Nearly all the houses are of the antebellum type. The woods
have been cleared at various places over the field, but otherwise the
landscape has changed but little when compared with wartime photographs
and sketches of the battle.

A walk through the town and the national cemetery brought us to the
Hagerstown pike which parallels the battle lines on the northern half
of the field. Threatening weather called for haste and I was obliged
to forego the pleasure of a ramble to familiar scenes around the
picturesque Burnside bridge which I had photographed 11 years before.
We were interested in two parts of the field--the line of Anderson's
Confederate division and the position occupied by Hooker on the Union
right. In locating the former we soon found ourselves in Piper's lane
and walked down to the gray stone barn which stands as solid today as
on that Wednesday afternoon when Hill and Sumner struggled for the
mastery of this blood-drenched farmstead.

Less than a mile beyond is the little whitewashed Dunker church which
marks the key to Stonewall Jackson's position. It stands in the woods
at the west side of the Hagerstown pike at the intersection of the
Smoketown road. On the east side of the pike was the famous cornfield
where the Union soldiers under Hooker and Mansfield engaged in deadly
combat with Jackson's men. In an area covering a few acres the losses
on both sides in less than four hours' fighting on the morning of
September 17th probably exceeded 5,000 killed and wounded.

All the important positions occupied by the troops on both sides
have been marked by tablets erected by the Federal government and
many memorials have been placed by the various states. One of the
most interesting monuments is that of the State of Maryland to her
sons--Union and Confederate--who perished at Antietam. It stands on a
knoll a short distance east of the pike opposite the Dunker church.

At 11 o'clock on Tuesday morning, July 25, our motor having been
pronounced "cured," we slipped "Sometub's" moorings and after adieus to
hospitable friends in Shepherdstown, started on the second half of our
journey. A mile and a half below the town we passed the ford over which
Lee's army retreated from Antietam and saw the cliff where the Corn
Exchange regiment came to grief in its pursuit of the Confederates.
A little farther on we noted what we supposed was the site of Camp
McAuley where the One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Pennsylvania regiment
from Pittsburgh spent many a chilly bivouac in the autumn of 1862.

The scenery on the canal between Shepherdstown and Harper's Ferry is
not rivaled anywhere in the country for its variety, abounding in
pastoral beauty, historic interest and sublime grandeur. Our motor,
being on its good behavior, the trip was uneventful. Across the river
among the trees we descried the little hamlet of Falling Waters where
occurred one of the first conflicts of the Civil War. We glided over
Antietam creek through a picturesque aqueduct and continued for miles
on through the trees at the base of the lofty cliffs of Maryland

After several stops to catch the pictures that presented themselves at
every turn, we reached the lock opposite Harper's Ferry about 4 o'clock
in the afternoon. We threw "Sometub's" line to a picket fence beside
the canal and hastened across to the town to call at the postoffice to
receive an accumulation of 10 days' mail that had been forwarded from
point to point all the way from Hancock.

This is a late day to describe Harper's Ferry. Thomas Jefferson more
than 100 years ago wrote a description of the place and stole the
thunder from his successors for all time to come. In October, 1859, old
John Brown in a different manner gave fresh fame to the locality, and
on a gallows over the hills at Charles Town paid the penalty with his
life. Harper's Ferry got into the headlines soon after Fort Sumter was
fired upon and kept in the limelight till the very close of the war.
Since that time the Baltimore and Ohio railroad has appropriated the
old town, mountains, rivers, scenery, historic associations and all and
has overlooked no opportunity to exploit its beauty and its traditions.

We had expected to have a veritable field day here with our camera,
but when we came from the postoffice clouds rolled down from the
mountains like great avalanches of snowy feathers, the village grew
misty and rain began to fall. With no immediate prospect of clear
weather we decided to continue our voyage. It would be heresy, however,
not to present a picture of Harper's Ferry, and we are indebted to
Mr. J. Hampton Baumgartner, of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, for
the one presented here. The railroad has acted the pious antiquarian
in preserving this historic shrine and the fame of the sacred spot is
perpetuated largely through the services of this corporation. Railroads
more frequently are ruthless vandals in their treatment of historic
landmarks, but not so with the Baltimore and Ohio. This portion of the
railroad is itself a talisman of history worthy of every patriotic
American's interest and study.

[Illustration: Harper's Ferry, from Maryland Heights]

Rain was falling in torrents when we unleashed "Sometub" from the
picket fence and started through the lock. By the time the one-armed
locktender had opened the gates and we chugged out under the Baltimore
and Ohio bridge at the entrance of the Maryland Heights tunnel the
storm had grown to the proportions of a cloudburst. We found ourselves
in a canyon of concrete with a sharp curve ahead. It was a perilous
place to meet a canal boat and we continued on through the blinding
storm. At the end of the canyon we moored to the towpath bank for a
time, but with darkness approaching and the rain continuing unabated,
we resolved to resume the voyage.

At dusk we reached Brunswick. Everything above board on the boat,
including ourselves was drenched. Scrambling out on the towpath I waded
through the mud to inquire of the locktender for a place to tie up.
Despite the rain, we had decided to spend the night on "Sometub." We
had become so attached to the little craft by this time that it seemed
like ingratitude to go to a comfortable hotel and leave it out there in
the storm and the night.

But this was not to be.


THERE must have been something about the appearance of our outfit or
ourselves, or both, on the arrival of the bedraggled "Sometub" at
Brunswick calculated to awaken the deepest sympathy of the kind-hearted
folk who watched us approach through the chilly rain. When I asked the
lockmaster for a suitable place to tie up for the night he pointed to
a dilapidated dock on the berm bank adjacent to an ancient and densely
populated pig pen.

"It would be very fine, except for the neighbors," I told him. "Pigs
have a habit of getting up too early in the morning to suit us." This
was not quite the reason for our objection to mooring beside a pig
pen, but I aimed to be diplomatic. Perhaps they might be his pigs.
"Crackey!" exclaimed the lockmaster, "You-all don't intend to spend the
night in that boat, do you?"

"Yes," I answered. "We have the most comfortable cabin you ever saw."

Before the lockmaster could answer another man, who hastened over from
the railroad yards, at once assumed the role of superintendent of the
harbor, collector of the port, quarantine officer or whatever you would
choose to call him. He spoke with the air of a person clothed with
absolute authority.

"Yes, yes; tie up over there and I'll----" he began.

"I have just told the lockmaster that I'll not tie up over there," I
interposed. But our new friend disregarded me entirely and continued:

"----I'll have an automobile here in five minutes to take you and the
missus up to the hotel. Your boat will be safe till morning. Come from
Pittsburgh, eh? How in Sam Hill did you get into the canal? I used to
work in Pittsburgh, but that was a good while ago. Pretty big place
now, I suppose--"

He was true to his word. An automobile oozed through the mud and the
chauffeur announced that he was ready to take "the lady and gentleman
to the hotel." In the presence of such an example of prompt service
we reconsidered our resolution to spend the night in the boat and
taking our baggage, we went to the hotel in our khakis. The people in
the lobby must have thought that unkempt members of a band of gypsies
had invaded the place when we rushed through to our room. However,
the opinions of bystanders as to the appearance of our traveling duds
gave us little concern. We put on dry clothes and in a few minutes it
was announced that the dining room had been opened for our especial
benefit. The young wife of the proprietor cooked and served a bountiful
repast. She must have felt repaid for the effort by the manner in which
we dispatched all the good things she had prepared.

The rain lasted through the night but Wednesday, July 26th, dawned with
clear skies. We prepared to depart early, but first stocked "Sometub"
with provisions and fuel, Brunswick being the last large town on the
canal on the way to Washington. Before us for a distance of nearly 50
miles lay a stretch of sparsely settled country. From Brunswick to
Point of Rocks the Baltimore and Ohio railroad runs close beside the
towpath and in the early morning, "Sometub" was greeted several times
by passengers on the observation cars of the Royal Blue express trains
which dashed by at a mile-a-minute speed. We wondered if the people who
were fluttering handkerchiefs and waving hats envied us. It was while
riding on the observation car several years ago on this same route
that we had planned our voyage. In its realization we regretted that
more vacation tourists could not share the pleasure of our trip over
the mountains--by water. We did not stop to consider that the majority
of summer travelers desire speed, luxury and the least discomfort and
would balk at the petty annoyances we endured through an obstinate
motor and the omniesence of Jupiter Pluvius.

Under the shadow of old Catoctin mountain we passed the Point of Rocks,
famous in the Civil War as the place where Lee's army crossed for the
invasion of Maryland in the Antietam campaign. A few miles beyond the
course of the river turns from southeast to southwest and we sheered
off sharply from the railroad. We crossed on the famous stone aqueduct
over the Monocacy river. The character of the scenery changed quite
as preceptibly as the direction of the stream. Through the drooping
branches of the trees we saw on the north the rugged outlines of old
Sugar Loaf peak and across the Potomac the undulating ridge of the
southern spur of Catoctin, and when heights faded in the blue haze of
a midsummer day, we bade farewell to the mountains. Henceforth our way
ran through the lowlands down to the sea, the hills and river bluffs
reaching an altitude of only a few hundred feet.

At Edwards Ferry we saw the wooded face of Ball's Bluff which gave name
to a Civil War conflict which was second only to Bull Run in causing
discomfiture to the people of the North. In this little fight the
country lost a notable figure in the person of General Edward D. Baker,
first United States senator from Oregon.

For miles along this portion of our route we ran without seeing a human
habitation. A dense strip of woodland concealed the river from view and
bluffs or marshy thickets interposed between the canal and the country
to the north. Occasionally through the trees we caught a fleeting
glimpse of beautiful meadows and cornfields of the Maryland farmlands,
but these vistas were rare.

At White's Ferry, where on September 5th, 1862, Stonewall Jackson's
army forded the Potomac, and while singing "My Maryland," marched
gallantly on toward Frederick, we stopped under the highway bridge that
spans the canal to replenish our supply of gasoline. Leaning over the
rail of the bridge stood a native whose face was obscured by the shadow
of a straw hat of immense brim. Over his shoulder was a fishing-pole
of a length of thirty feet or more. He ignored our salutation when we
approached, but after we had drifted under the bridge he crossed to the
rail on the other side and inquired:

"Stranger, whar did you put that tub in this ditch?"


"By crackey!" And he sauntered down the road.

The history of this "ditch" is a commercial romance closely linked
with the political developments of the last one hundred and fifty
years. During the period immediately preceding the Revolutionary War
Washington devoted his chief attention toward the opening of the west
to colonization and for a cheap transportation route foresaw that
navigation on the waters of the upper Potomac would offer a direct
outlet for the products of the agricultural regions of the western
country to the Atlantic seaboard. The alarm from Lexington in 1775, of
course, put an end to all immediate plans for the internal improvement
among the colonies, but after Burgoyne had been cut off at Saratoga and
Cornwallis had been bagged at Yorktown, Gen Washington again turned his
attention to the transportation problem. Before peace was restored he
left the camp of the patriot army at Newburg and inspected the future
route of the Erie canal through the Mohawk valley.

Washington shrewdly divined that a canal between Lake Erie near
Niagara, connecting it with the Mohawk and the Hudson would open up a
route that would be a dangerous competitor to the southern colonies in
their trade with the west. Soon after he was relieved from his military
duties he made a tour of exploration with a view of locating a route
connecting the Potomac with the Ohio and the Great Lakes. His journal
sets forth clearly his wonderful farsightedness and broad comprehension
of the situation. Here is Washington's report of his transportation
line from Detroit to Alexandria, Va.: (The spelling is Washington's).

    To Cuyahoga River                 125 Miles
    Up same to Portage                 60 Miles
    Portage to Bever Ck                 8 Miles
    Down Bever Ck to the Ohio          85 Miles
    Up the Ohio to Fort Pitt           25 Miles
    Mouth of Yohiogany                 15 Miles
    Falls to Ditto                     50 Miles
    Portage                             1 Mile
    Three Forks or Turkey foot          8 Miles
    Ft. Cumberland or Wills Creek      30 Miles
    Alexandria                        200 Miles
    Total                             607 Miles

Bear in mind that the "mouth of the Yohiogany" is now McKeesport, that
the "falls to ditto" indicates Ohio Pyle and that "Three Forks" means
the present locality of Confluence, and compare the distances with
present day surveys. They will not vary a mile on the entire stretch.
Ask the eminent engineers of the Lake Erie & Ohio River Canal if they
can add much to Washington's ideas. Their answer will give you added
reasons for celebrating on the 22nd of next February.

In February, 1785, the laws were passed by the legislatures of Maryland
and Virginia authorizing the formation of a company for the improvement
of the Potomac river and books for the subscription of stock were
opened at once. The total shares were 403 and the capital of the new
Potomac Company was 40,300 pounds. Washington was elected its president
and James Rumsey, the inventor, whose monument we saw at Shepherdstown,
was general manager. In the summer of 1785 the work of blasting rock
and other obstructions was begun between Great Falls and Harper's Ferry.

The work was prosecuted with vigor, but during the winter of 1786-87
there came a hint of labor troubles. Common laborers were paid 32
shillings (about $8.00) a month "with the usual ration except spirits,
and with such reasonable allowance of spirits as the manager may from
time to time think proper." The question of spirits seems to have been
the chief cause of the trouble, for it is recorded that the company
contracted for the supply of rum at "two shillings per gallon." It must
have been the same kind of stuff that is peddled across the river to
"dry" Virginians today.

In 1787 Washington withdrew from active work in the company to accept
the presidency of the Republic. His retirement sealed the fate of the
corporation. Its affairs languished for years and in 1823 was declared

In the same year--1823 a date since famous for the promulgation of
the Monroe doctrine--the navigation project was again revived in the
Maryland legislature. It was estimated that the proposed work of
cutting a canal from tide-water (Washington, D. C.) up the Potomac,
across the mountains to a branch of the Ohio, and down the same, at
$1,500,000, of which Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia
were each to subscribe one-third. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company
was incorporated by the Maryland legislature in 1825 with a capital
stock of $6,000,000, Congress having previously made an appropriation
of $30,000 for preliminary surveys. The route selected for the canal
alarmed the citizens of Baltimore. They saw that it would divert trade
from their city. About this time Philip E. Thomas, a Baltimore banker,
and George Brown, an enterprising resident of that city, took earnest
counsel between themselves to save the traffic for their town. On the
19th of February, 1827, they held a meeting with their townsmen which
was destined to become memorable in the whole history of transportation.

[Illustration: Tom Thumb--B. & O. 1830]

Up in Quincy, Mass., and in Maunch Chaunk, Pa., for a year or two
wagons had been operated on rails, and Mr. Thomas inquired of his
confreres why a "rail road" would not be practicable from Baltimore
to the Ohio. The whole world knows the answer: On February 28, 1828,
a charter was granted to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, Mr.
Thomas resigned the presidency of the Machanics' Bank in Baltimore to
become the head of the first American railway system.

       *       *       *       *       *

THEN began a memorable commercial race between canal and railroad.
Their prospective routes were parallel and both sought the same
destination--the Ohio river at Pittsburgh. Early in 1826 both
companies were in the field surveying for their respective highways.
On the fourth of July succeeding celebrations were planned by the
rival corporations. In Washington on that day President John Quincy
Adams, the members of his cabinet, foreign ambassadors, survivors of
the Revolutionary War and a great throng of citizens proceeded up
the Potomac to Great Falls where the first spadeful of earth in the
construction of the canal was turned by the President of the United

Over in Baltimore at the same hour the venerable Charles Carroll
of Carrollton, the only surviving signer of the Declaration of
Independence lifted a spadeful of earth in placing the foundation
stone to commemorate the commencement of the building of the Baltimore
and Ohio Railroad. The railroad was completed to the Maryland shore
opposite Harper's Ferry in 1834 and was opened to operation December
1, the work on the canal at that time having proceeded more rapidly,
despite injunctions, financial embarrassments and a multitude of
obstacles that interfered with the work. The canal finally was
completed to Cumberland February 17, 1851.

In the meantime the railroad had struggled to success in spite of
similar obstacles. The Baltimore and Ohio was opened to the public May
22, 1830, and was received with approbation of the public. At this time
the line extended from Baltimore to Ellicott's Mills, a distance of 12
miles. It was advertised that "brigades of cars left Baltimore at 6 and
10 a. m. and 3 and 4 p. m." These "brigades" of cars first were hauled
by horses and mules and later a brother of President Thomas invented
a car which moved by sails. The superintendent of motive power,
nevertheless, was enterprising and steam was soon applied. As early
as 1831 the company offered a prize of $4,000 for the best locomotive
offered for trial on the road. It is a curious fact that a watchmaker
of York, Pa., built the first practicable models.

One of these, the "Atlantic," on August 25, 1835, drew the first train
into Washington amid the applause of President Andrew Jackson and a
distinguished assemblage. This "grasshopper" locomotive was in use
a generation later when it hauled the vanguard of Union soldiers to
save the national capital in 1861. It developed a speed of 30 miles an
hour which was regarded as suicidal in the early days of railroading.
Although superannuated, the "Atlantic" is still in a good state of
preservation and can be operated under its own power.

The canal and railroad are no longer competitors. The bonds of the
former company are held by the railroad. The canal is in operation
during the season of navigation and more than 100 boats are engaged in
providing low-priced transportation for coal from Cumberland to the
seaboard. On the railroad "brigades of cars" are seen at intervals of
a few minutes dashing along behind locomotives that weight more than
twenty times that of the little old "Atlantic."

[Illustration: "Atlantic" Engine--B. & O. 1832]


THROUGH the sultry afternoon of Wednesday, July 25th, "Sometub" ran for
hours under the willows that fringe the Maryland meadows in Montgomery
county. Across the river the Virginia shore presented an endless
panorama of wooded hills that grew less rugged in their outlines as we
proceeded down the stream. At sunset we were running through a marshy
region and decided to keep on rather than invite malaria by spending
the night on the border of a swamp. We were happy when, in the receding
twilight, we espied the hills of Seneca creek and knew by consulting
our topographical maps that we would have a more healthy mooring place.
At Seneca a widewater covers about ten acres and under a big sycamore
tree beside the little lake we tied "Sometub," preparing dinner on our
"canned heat" range and serving it on our poncho which was spread on
the soft, green turf.

The dying embers of a campfire were visible across an arm of the lake
and after dinner we went to pay a neighborly call. Beside the fire was
a tiny "pup" tent supported by two canoe paddles. On our approach three
young men greeted us. A week before, they told us, they had started out
from their homes in Washington on a fishing trip up the river. In the
Potomac the bass were not biting but the mosquitoes were and betwixt
hope and desperation they had turned into the canal. Now they were
having fairly good luck and were comfortable.

Our new friends punctilously returned the call. One of the youths was
the son of a naval officer and expressed much interest in "Sometub,"
and its unique cabin arrangement. We sat in the lantern light till
midnight swapping motorboat experiences for fish stories. In this we
had the better of the deal.

Thursday dawned clear and hot. Our neighbors, the fishermen, were out
before sunrise and had breakfasted on their catch of perch, catfish
and "sunnies" before we were stirring. Old Sol drank up the dew within
a few minutes after his appearance over the Virginia hills and we
made an excursion into a blackberry thicket where we picked a dish
of luscious fruit for breakfast. It was our last berry feast of the
season. After reciprocating photographs of our respective "camps," we
headed for Seneca lock and were lowered through it by members of a
troop of Washington Boy Scouts who volunteered their assistance to the

At noon we reached Great Falls. Here are 13 locks in a series of two,
seven chambers in the first and six in the second. The actual time in
making the descent was considerably less than two hours. We stopped
at the first lock, and upon payment of a small fee to the lockmaster,
were admitted to the private park surrounding the Great Falls of the
Potomac. Crossing a swinging bridge to an island in the river we
obtained a magnificent view of the cataract. The stream was at flood
stage and the scene rivaled the rapids of the lower Niagara.

In the late summer and autumn of 1861 the Union and Confederate pickets
frequently exchanged compliments at short range from behind the rocks
and boulders along this stretch of the Potomac. If you have any friends
among the survivors of the Pennsylvania Reserves, ask them to tell
you of their experiences during the open season for snipers in those
exciting days.

In the middle of the afternoon we passed Cabin John bridge and moored
"Sometub" at the lock at the foot of Glen Echo park. In the shade of
the trees everything looked cool and refreshing and we decided to
spend the evening with friends in Washington, but a few minutes after
we stepped off the boat we realized that it was the hottest day of
the summer. The lockmaster's wife invited us to go into her house and
assigned us "spare rooms" to change our clothes. Going to Washington
by trolley, we found the heat in the city almost intolerable after
our fortnight in the open air of the mountains. After dinner in town
against the protests of friends we returned to the boat and were lulled
to slumber by the music in the dancing pavilion of the park.

       *       *       *       *       *

JUPITER PLUVIUS had been on hand at the beginning of the voyage and now
at its close he was in evidence again. Rain interrupted us at breakfast
and continued through the forenoon. Disregarding the showers we started
on the last lap of our cruise and at 11 o'clock reached Lock No. 1,
or, according to our count, No. 75 from Cumberland. We surrendered
our waybill with the request that the canal company would return it
to us to keep as a souvenir. After a pleasant chat to the lockmaster
during which time we took refuge from a particularly annoying shower,
"Sometub" was lowered to the Georgetown level. A few minutes later
the lofty towers supporting the arials of the naval radio station at
Arlington were visible and rounding a majestic curve to the eastward,
we beheld the fantastic skyline of the National Capital.

[Illustration: "BACK HOME"]

Threading our way between a fleet of canal boats, tugs, skiffs and
nondescript craft we reached the coal wharf in Georgetown and ran
"Sometub" into the mud at the ancient lock which connects the canal
with Rock creek, its outlet into the waters of the Potomac. The
waterfront at Georgetown is no prepossessing place and the attitude
of the bystanders was not calculated to lead the boatman to leave his
property unguarded. Asking the obliging lockmaster to "keep an eye"
on "Sometub" I went up a side street to the office of the Chesapeake
and Ohio Canal Company to report our arrival and to meet in person Mr.
A. Sahli, the secretary, with whom I had had an interesting telephone
conversation last winter when in Washington arranging for the voyage.

Mr. Sahli had been most obliging and we felt grateful for his advice.
He told me that a short distance below the lock at the railroad yards
I could take the boat from the water and ship it back to Pittsburgh.
It seemed that every possible convenience was provided for the skipper
directing a "portable cruise."

I cannot describe my feelings when I returned to the wharf. We refused
to realize that our voyage was at an end. It seemed that to take down
the canopy, pack our stores and utensils and lift "Sometub" from the
water would leave us absolutely homeless. It was still raining. For
a long time we sat in the boat debating what to do. It was Friday
and we had three days remaining on our hands. The little boat never
looked more friendly, cozy and hospitable than just now. We had been
companions on a most interesting journey and to leave it to pursue our
own pleasure was like parting with a faithful partner in adversity.

We compromised by exploring new waters. Giving the signal to the
lockmaster, we were lowered into Rock creek and started up that winding
stream toward Rock Creek park where we hoped to find a quiet place
to tie up. We ran under the arched bridge of Pennsylvania avenue and
under the trees to a point at the foot of the hill below DuPont circle
but here shoal water checked our progress. Reluctantly we turned back
and ran out to the dam where the creek empties into the Potomac. Here
our cruise came near terminating in a tragedy. We were within 30 yards
of the dam before we saw that water to a depth of a foot or more was
pouring over its crest into the swirling river 15 feet below. The motor
refused to reverse. We were caught in the current and drifted broadside
toward the dam.

Then we learned that a spruce canoe paddle is the most reliable of all
motors for a small boat in moments of emergency. It was impossible to
stem the current, but we succeeded in edging off from the middle of the
stream and when almost at the edge of the dam caught some wisps of
willows and held "Sometub" until a line was thrown ashore.

After extricating ourselves from this predicament we ran back to the
entrance of the canal and met a great, whole-souled man in the person
of Mr. Michael O'Leary, night watchman in a machine shop on the river
front and the owner of a houseboat in Rock Creek. True to all the
virtues of his nationality, Mr. O'Leary possesses a generous heart and
bountiful hospitality. Shure, it would be all right to tie up to his
boat and he would be plased to keep an eye on the wee tub.

Honesty was written all over his face and we left "Sometub" in his
care, going downtown to spend another evening with friends but returned
at night to our cabin. Saturday morning we were confronted by the
inevitable necessity of "taking down" the superstructure of the boat
and packing our baggage. Mr. O'Leary was on hand with a group of
longshoremen who lifted "Sometub" from the water and carried it to a
freight car as if it were a toy. We felt homeless now indeed. Only the
refreshing good humor of Michael O'Leary mellowed our regret that our
voyage was at an end.

"Sometub" in its freight car berth started that night on its return to
Pittsburgh for many subsequent weekend excursions on the Allegheny, but
we tarried a day longer. On Sunday morning we crossed over to Virginia
and went to old Christ Church in Alexandria. There in that historic
temple of worship, with its sacred memories of George Washington, we
rounded our fortnight's journey. From first to last we had followed in
the footsteps of the greatest American.


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