Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park | ANTIETAM CREEK AQUEDUCT

View of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal's Antietam Creek Aqueduct passing over Antietam Creek

View of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal’s Antietam Creek Aqueduct passing over Antietam Creek


The Antietam Creek Aqueduct is located at Mile 69.4 on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath. It is just a short walk downstream from the parking area for the Antietam Creek Campground on Canal Road. See the Locks and Lockhouses web page for an interactive location map.


Approaching the Antietam Creek Aqueduct from upstream on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath

Approaching the Antietam Creek Aqueduct from upstream on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath

A canal aqueduct is a nifty little feat of engineering that solves the problem of what to do when a canal crosses paths with a creek or river. Both are waterways, but the canal is a self-contained channel and cannot temporarily merge with the river because all of its water will spill out uncontrollably. The solution is to elevate the canal over the waterway via a bridge. In essence, a large, elevated bathtub must be built—water cannot be leaking out of the bottom and sides. This is done with a thick layer of clay and stone on the bottom and solid stone walls for sides.

Illustration of an aqueduct--the Catoctin Aqueduct--in action

Illustration of an aqueduct–the Catoctin Aqueduct–in action

Upstream view of Antietam Creek from the Antietam Creek Aqueduct on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Upstream view of Antietam Creek from the Antietam Creek Aqueduct on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Antietam Creek is one of many tributaries of the Potomac River

Antietam Creek is one of many tributaries of the Potomac River

The Antietam Creek Aqueduct was completed in 1834. There are eleven aqueducts on the C&O Canal, but this is the best preserved.

Retaining walls of the Antietam Creek Aqueduct on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Retaining walls of the Antietam Creek Aqueduct on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

While today’s hiking and biking trail runs through the middle of the aqueduct, when the canal was in operation this area was full of water. The actual towpath that the mules followed is along the top of the Potomac River-side retaining wall. Hikers are welcome to walk along the wall, but for bikers the easiest route is through the aqueduct.

Original towpath ran along the top of the retaining wall of the Antietam Creek Aqueduct on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

Original towpath ran along the top of the retaining wall of the Antietam Creek Aqueduct on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

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Last updated on May 29, 2024
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