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Lock 38 (near Shepherdstown)

Lock 38 Area Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


The stone for Lock 38 came from a quarry across the river. The lock was built between September 1832 and September 1833 by Gilson, Noonan, Midler and Fresh and Co. for $7,725.85. However the lockhouse that is partially visible on the left, was not begun until 1837 and not completed until September 1838 at a cost of $1,530.34. As the section of the canal from Dam 5 to Dam 3 opened in 1835, the lockkeeper here would have lived in a temporary structure or in a nearby building until the lockhouse was completed.
Lockkeepers at this lock were responsible for also operating the river lock a tenth of a mile downstream. Because of this additional responsibility they were normally paid somewhat higher than those with only one lock under their care. Wages and salaries changed during the operating years of the canal, of course, but as an example, in 1839 the lockkeeper here was paid $200 when the wages for a single lock were $150.


William Huyett

Public domain

Mile 72.8
From the collection of John Frye

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:

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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