The Old Ditch Booming, 1892
Dec 22, 1892
THE OLD DITCH BOOMING
Next year a lively time is expected and a great big tonnage - it will pay.
The Chesapeake and Ohio canal has closed business for the season, and the hoarse voice of the driver on the towpath, the melodious bray of the mule as he plods along, and the sharp orders of the captain will not be heard again until the warm rains dispel old winter, and the verdure begins to smile along the banks. On the last of this month all over the line traffic ceased and the boatman tied up for the winter. One or two, caught within load between Cumberland and Georgetown, continued on, but will in a day or two, at the least, follow the example of their brethren, and earn their daily bread in some other manner until the re-opening of the waterway in March.
On the 23d of this month, Friday, the water will be drawn off the entire length of the canal. The stoppage is caused by the refusal of the boatmen to work after the first two or three cold snaps. They fearing being ice bound.
The canal is in a better condition now, than it has been for the past thirty years. The banks, from Cumberland to Georgetown, are in excellent shape, and all weak points have been strengthened with solid masonry. All locks have been repaired, and there is not a defect in the whole system. During the season just closed two hundred boats were kept on the go constantly, and over 270,000 tons of coal were shipped. The shipments would have been much larger, but owing to a scarcity of boats lots of the coal went down by rail. During the whole season just closed, from March to December, not one day was lost, even in the height of the dry spell. The canal was kept filled with water, even though the river was almost dry; and the carrying capacity was pushed to the utmost.
Next season bids fair to be one of the biggest that the old ditch has ever experienced. While everything is tied up this winter all of the boat yards will be worked hard. There are three in Cumberland, Felix Baries, near Baltimore st., and Mertens Sons’ two yards in Shantytown. All of these places are working a full complement of men on full time and will continue during the winter turning out boats as, fast: as possible, the demand for boats will, in the spring, be large, and the company will endeavor to provide all that are necessary for the business. During the past year the yards here have turned out in the neighborhood of one hundred boats, some new and others rebuilt from the old bulks that were left, some years ago on the banks to rot. Baries has kept twenty hands employed. He has turned out seventeen new boats and rebuilt thirteen old ones. These were turned over to Meredith, Winship & Co., Georgetown, D. C. He will run his yard all of the winter, and has received orders to go ahead and build as rapidly as possible.
Mertens Sons have turned out fortyfive new boats and have rebuilt almost that many more. They are pushing things, and have a busy season before them.
Thanks to Tim Snyder for making this available.
Washington County Free Library
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (Md.); Washington County (Md.), History