254 marijuana plants found growing along C&O Canal

July 22, 1997


Staff Writer

HANCOCK - Authorities Tuesday dug up about 254 marijuana plants found growing near the C&O Canal west of Hancock, one of the largest crops of pot ever found in the park that runs along the Potomac River, according to authorities.

The plants, between 3 and 8 feet tall, were about three weeks away from maturity, said John Bailey, a U.S. park ranger with the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

At maturity, the plants would have been worth about $300,000, Bailey said.

"This is probably one of the most major (pot discoveries) we've had," said Bailey.

Bailey said it is not uncommon for marijuana to be planted on public land because the grower, if caught, does not risk having personal property seized by authorities under civil forfeiture laws.


The plants were found growing between the towpath near that Potomac River about 1 1/2 miles upstream from Hancock, Bailey said.

The plants, growing in four plots over about a 150-yard area, were surrounded by heavy screen to protect them from damage by animals, Bailey said.

The plants were about 75 yards from the towpath and could not be seen from the trail, officials said.

Two five-gallon buckets were found near the plants. Officials believe that whoever was growing the marijuana plants was dipping water from the Potomac River to water them.

About seven park rangers and members of the Washington County Narcotics Task Force went to the area at about 1 p.m. and spent several hours pulling up the plants, Bailey said.

Rangers from Fort Frederick State Park, which has a trail that runs through the area, received an anonymous tip about the plants about a week ago, Bailey said.

Authorities had the pot plants under surveillance in the hope of catching someone tending them, but to no avail, Bailey said.

The plants will be destroyed, Bailey said.

The last big marijuana crop was found along the C&O Canal in 1993. In that case, 50 plants were found in the Noland's Ferry area in Frederick County, Bailey said.

In the early 1980s, about 100 plants were found near Dam No. 6, Bailey said.

The C&O Canal towpath is a popular biking and hiking trail that extends 184 miles from Cumberland, Md., to Georgetown in Washington, D.C.

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