Catoctin Aqueduct Overlook Trail
The National Park Service, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, will construct an overlook trail at the recently restored Catoctin Aqueduct, Mile 51 of the park. The restoration of the Catoctin Aqueduct was reviewed through an Environmental Assessment (EA), March 2008, PEPC project number 15279 and was approved through a Finding of No Significant Impact determination, June 2009. That project also addressed the National Historic Preservation Act, Section 106 requirements for the assessment of effects for cultural resources. The trail was not a part of the EA review process.
The restoration was funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). It became apparent, however, as the restoration work progressed for the aqueduct, that an overlook trail would provide an enhancement to the overall project. An overlook trail would reduce potential impacts to the Catoctin Creek shoreline and surrounding woodlands from the development of social trails, along which people would travel to gain a view of the restored aqueduct.
The overlook trail will be constructed on the east side of Catoctin Aqueduct. The overlook will be downstream of the aqueduct and will provide a safe vantage point for visitors to view the structure. The primary trail will be ADA compliant, with an alternative stair route. Both trail components will connect with the park's towpath. Wayside exhibits will be installed as part of this project. Signs will be placed at the overlook, near the aqueduct downstream east wing wall, and along the towpath. Signs will convey historic canal information along with project information on the restoration effort.
The restoration of the Catoctin Aqueduct was a partnership project between the NPS and the Catoctin Aqueduct Restoration Fund, Inc. (CAR Fund). The CAR Fund spearheaded an "Adopt a Stone" program and the overlook trail will enable program participants to identify and view their adopted stones within the aqueduct.
In addition to the overlook trail component, this project will also undertake the removal of a 1974 bridge abutment that was constructed by the NPS. The abutment is the only remaining feature of a failed attempt to span the Catoctin Creek and provide a visitor bypass around the failed aqueduct. Upon the failure of the bridge, the NPS installed a Bailey Bridge at the towpath which was in use until the restoration of the aqueduct.
The park's Interdisciplinary Team reviewed the project for impacts to natural and cultural resources. The project does not pose any serious or long-term effects to the environmental, historical, cultural, archeological, or visual resources. It meets categorical exclusion #C.11 – Minor trail relocations, development of compatible trail networks on logging roads or to the established routes, and trail maintenance and repair.
In consultation with the Maryland Historical Trust (State Historic Preservation Officer), as required by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the project was reviewed for impacts to cultural resources. No adverse effects are anticipated as a result of this project and the project is consistent with the Secretary of Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and the accompanying guidelines.
For further information about this project, please contact Chief of Preservation and Project Management, at Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NHP, 1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100, Hagerstown, MD 21740.