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N 39° 35.652', W 77° 49.518'

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Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park

—National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior —

It shall be their duty, at all hours, by night as well as by day, to pass all boats and floats presenting themselves at their locks.
Charles Mercer, President, C&O Canal Company

Every time his boat passed through a lock, a boat captain put his life and livelihood in the hands of the locktender. The wooden lock gates were a delicate balance between safety and efficiency. They had to be light enough to allow one man to move them, yet strong enough to hold back 140,000 gallons of water. A skilled locktender could judge and adjust the flow of water in or out of the lock to minimize the risk to boat and lock.

Locktenders were responsible for the safe operation and maintenance of liftlocks. Neglect or carelessness could mean disaster. In exchange for a small monthly salary, an acre of land and a house, locktenders heeded the horn blast of boatmen even at 2 a.m. or on Sunday. After all, time was money.

How A Lock Works

Lift locks and raised and lowered boats to overcome changes in elevation.

A boat heading downstream enters the lock. Mules are unhitched and the locktender closes the upstream gates.

The locktender opens the downstream paddles. Water flows out and the boat is lowered.

With water levels equal, the

locktender opens the downstream gates. The mules are hitched and the boat moves on.
Series This marker is part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal series
Placed ByNational Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, April 6th, 2019 at 2:02pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 257393 N 4386533
Decimal Degrees39.59420000, -77.82530000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 35.652', W 77° 49.518'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 35' 39.12" N, 77° 49' 31.08" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
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