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Lock 47 and Drydock ( more details)

Lock 47 and Drydock Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


Lock 47 is the first of the flight of locks, Nos. 47–50, that are in close proximity and around which a community grew known as Four Locks. Here the river makes a large bend around Prather’s Neck, which the canal cuts across. However, as the river falls considerably above this point, the canal needed to gain altitude before it cut across the neck to come out by the river upstream of the bend. A flight of locks allowed it to do.

Beside Lock 47 is a drydock that Thomas Hassett was given permission to build by the canal company’s board of directors on September 7, 1855. This Thomas Hassett was a predecessor of the one who owned land in the area at the turn of the century and who lived in the large stone house across the road.

Drydocks were built here and there along the canal, their owners earning income by using them to repair canal boats. The docks were somewhat similar to locks in that a boat could be floated into them through an upstream gate, after which the gate would be closed and a sluice gate opened at the downstream end to drain the drydock. The boat would settle down on raised beams as the water level dropped, allowing workmen to crawl under as well as around the lock to make the necessary repairs.

No plans had been made in the original design of the canal to provide for the repair of boats, although boat yards were expected to grow at major basins—and did. However as soon as the first section of the canal opened to Dam 2 in 1831, the company discovered that boats would sometimes suffer serious failures and end up as obstructions along the side of the canal. As a result in 1833 the resident engineers were directed to select an appropriate location for a drydock in each division of the canal and recommend a plan for the construction. Over time, however, these became a matter of private investments and businesses, built with company permission.

Employees of the drydock at Lock 47 included Lewis Fernsner, Harry Bowers, Bill Murray and John Hartman (Mastrangelo).

---For a map of Indian Spring District see Indian Spring District, 1877


Public domain

Mile 108
A lock is a chamber used to lift or drop water levels in order for a boat to move across elevation levels. There are 74 lift locks that rise 605 ft from Georgetown to Cumberland. The locks were tended by lockkeepers that would operate the locks for the canal boats that would arrive at any time of the day on their way either to Georgetown or Cumberland. Materials used to build the locks ranged from Aquia Creek Freestone, Granite, and Seneca stone to wood and cement on the upper composite locks. The locks would also be a place for canallers to trade or buy supplies that they would need for their long journeys.

Collection Location:
C&O National Historic Park

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (Md.); Washington County (Md.), History

Maryland, 1824-1938

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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