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Conococheague Aqueduct said at risk

June 16, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

The Conococheague Aqueduct in Williamsport is in danger of being lost to the forces of nature, said C&O Canal Park Superintendent Doug Faris.

"I'm probably more worried about the Conococheague than the Monocacy," Faris said after a press conference that named the Monocacy Aqueduct one of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

For the last eight months, engineers have been studying how to repair both structures, which were built in the 1800s to carry the canal over other bodies of water.

The price tags: $3 million for the Conococheague and $4.5 million for the Monocacy.

The U.S. Park Service is concentrating first on the Monocacy Aqueduct on the border of Frederick and Montgomery counties. It is the largest of 11 aqueducts along the 184.5-mile canal that stretches from Cumberland, Md., to Washington, D.C.

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But the Conococheague, the canal's second-largest aqueduct, is undergoing $350,000 in emergency repairs financed by the state and federal governments, Faris said.

The Conococheague Aqueduct sustained major damage in 1920 when the upstream wall collapsed after it was struck by a canal barge.

The barge crashed through the opening and remained stuck in the creek until 1936, when a flood washed it down the Potomac River.

Stones in the aqueduct have been washed out over the years.

Volunteers have fished the stones out of the Conococheague Creek and propped them along the bank to await restoration, said Sue Ann Sullivan of Williamsport, who is on the C&O Canal citizens advisory commission.

Sullivan and Edward K. Miller of Hagerstown, the two Washington County representatives on the commission, were present for first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's Monday visit to the Monocacy Aqueduct.

About 42 percent of the canal is in Washington County, Miller said.

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