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Hillary Clinton to visit Frederick Co. aqueduct

June 11, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

Hillary Rodham Clinton will tour the damaged Monocacy aqueduct on the C&O Canal Monday and perhaps lend her clout to efforts to repair the historic structure, a park official said Wednesday.

The first lady and about 175 other guests will meet at the remote aqueduct in Frederick County from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., according to C&O Canal Historical Park Superintendent Doug Faris.

"The first lady will be linking this structure to programs she and her husband support to preserve the legacy of our country," he said.

Built in 1833, the Monocacy aqueduct is near Pleasantville, and spans the border between Frederick and Montgomery counties.

Aqueducts essentially are stone bridges that carry the canal across the mouths of tributaries that feed into the Potomac River, Faris said.

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The Monocacy aqueduct is one of 10 that still stand along the 185-mile stretch of the canal that runs from Cumberland, Md., to Georgetown in Washington, D.C. It was severely damaged by flood waters from Hurricane Agnes in 1972, and has been held together with steel belts for the past 20 years, Faris said.

"This is the largest and grandest of the aqueducts along the canal, and one of the largest and most important in the U.S." he said.

Completed in 1833, the aqueduct is more than 430 feet long, Faris said.

Repairs to the stone aqueduct originally were estimated at around $20 million, but recent engineering studies show the cost to stabilize the structure could be $4 million or $5 million, Faris said.

"We think it's doable," he said.

In the past few years, the C&O Canal Association's Committee for the Preservation of the Monocacy Aqueduct has been raising money to help with the cost of repairs, Faris said.

"We're hopeful of getting support from Congress," he said.

Maryland Sens. Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski are among those expected at the June 15 event, which is being sponsored by the National Park Service, the C&O Canal Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the organization that invited Hillary Clinton.

A spokeswoman for the National Trust said the first lady's visit is designed to raise awareness about endangered historic places.

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