Reconstruction of Historic Stop Gate Winch House - Mile 13.74
The National Park Service, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, will reconstruct a Stop Gate Winch House at mile 13.74 of the park. The stone abutments of the original structure are intact but the upper wooden building no longer exists. It is the intention of this project to reconstruct the wooden structure which served as a winch house.
The stop gate at this location was constructed by the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company to help arrest floodwaters from damaging the canal. The original structure was a wooden winch house on top of stone abutments. Wooden stop planks (boards) were lowered from the winch house into grooves in the abutments. Once in place, the boards created a wall that would "stop" the floodwaters from traveling further downstream via the canal prism. A levee at this location directed flood waters out onto Bear Island and the Potomac River.
The wooden winch house has been missing from this structure since pre-1930's. The park staff still use the remaining masonry abutments as the stop gate in high water events. In order to install the stop boards, staff must drive a crane to the site across an area called Mary's Wall. The crane is used to lower the boards into the grooves.
During the past few years, numerous leaks in the area of Mary's Wall have caused engineers to restrict the movement of heavy machinery/equipment across this area. As a result, the stop gate is not accessible and the stop boards cannot be used to divert high water from downstream locations.
With the reconstruct the wooden winch house, the structure will store all stop boards and machinery used to lower and raise the boards into place. This structure will enable park staff to access the site readily and safely. The enhanced operation will enable the park to provide much more efficient response to high water events.
This stop gate is one of two remaining structures in the park. The other structure is located at Dam #4 in Washington County, Maryland. The stopgate and winch house at that location are very well documented with documentation and photographs. The stopgate at Mile 13.74 is less documented. However, the stone abutments at the 13.74 is almost identical to the stone abutments at Dam #4. It is our conclusion, that the documented structure at Dam #4 was the same at both locations. The building specifications from the Dam #4 winch house will be used to construct the winch house.
Currently, wooden stairs provide a visitor bypass of the structure when the stop boards are in place. These stairs will remain with the new structure. A walkway will be provided for visitor use to connect the towpath with Berma Road. This walkway will be a component of the new building, passing along the outside, similar to the walkway on the winch house at Dam #4.
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.4 – Routine maintenance and repairs to cultural resources sites, structures, utilities, and grounds if the action falls under an approved Historic Structures Preservation Guide or Cyclic Maintenance Guide, or if the action would not adversely affect the cultural resource.
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 impacts 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, contact Exhibits Specialist (Restoration), 1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100, Hagerstown, MD 21740