The Catoctin Aqueduct was one of eleven masonry structures built to carry the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal across major tributaries of the Potomac River. This aqueduct spanned Catoctin Creek near the village of Lander. Construction of the stone aqueduct was started in 1832 and completed in 1834. It was 92 feet long with a three arch construction. This aqueduct featured an elliptical center arch with two semicircle arches on either side of the center arch.
This aqueduct was often called the "crooked" aqueduct. This was due to the relationship of the aqueduct to the canal prism. Rather than a straight approach at each end of the aqueduct, the canal prism had severe turns as it approached the aqueduct. Topography and the stream channel orientation accounted for this engineering element. Due to the bends in the canal prism, canal boat captains were obligated to bring their boats to a stop, manually align the boat before proceeding through the aqueduct.
The elliptical arch was not as structurally strong as the semicircle arches on either side and the aqueduct began sagging in the early 1900's. The Catoctin Aqueduct, along with many other components of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company, fell into disrepair when the canal company ceased operations in 1924. The Catoctin Aqueduct continued to show signs of failure when it partially collapsed in 1973.
Today, the east arch and abutment remain in place. Portions of the west arch and abutment are also in place. Wing walls and arch piers are still extant. Several preservation campaigns have taken place to stabilize the existing portions of the structure. The National Park Service installed a Bailey bridge adjacent to the aqueduct. This bridge currently allows towpath continuity for park visitors.
The project proposes to restore the Catoctin Aqueduct to its original design, including the elliptical center arch. However, engineers involved with the project will incorporate internal components to make the structure more stable and sustainable that the original structure's cut stone with rubble stone fill. Engineers will develop a more monolithic interior design, using concrete with cut stone facing.
For further information, please contact the Park Engineer at 1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100, Hagerstown, MD 21740.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, in partnership with the Catoctin Aqueduct Restoration, Inc. and the Community Foundation of Frederick County, Inc., is proposing the restoration of the Catoctin Aqueduct. The partnership groups are conducting fundraising for this endeavor.