Yesterday we had some dense fog (as we do this morning as well) so I bolted from the house before sunrise to get positioned for some good photos. The first stop? The Maryland side of Great Falls. I should point out that there has been long running confusion about Great Falls, as a Google search will only take you to the Virginia-based National Park website. Why? Because Great Falls actually resides within the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. Oh, and as much as the Virginians would like to claim Great Falls as their own, most of the Potomac River and the water in it belongs to Maryland. Don’t believe me? Here’s some online chatter on the subject:
The river forms part of the borders between Washington, D.C., and Virginia on the left descending bank and Maryland and Virginia on the river’s right descending bank. The majority of the lower Potomac River is part of the State of Maryland. Exceptions include a small tidal portion within the District of Columbia, and the border with Virginia being delineated from “point to point” (thus various bays and shoreline indentations lie in Virginia). Except for a small portion of its headwaters in West Virginia, the North Branch Potomac River is considered part of Maryland to the low water mark on the opposite bank. The South Branch Potomac River lies completely within the state of West Virginia except for its headwaters, which lie in Virginia. — Wikipedia
This makes for some really interesting jurisdiction disputes (especially the bridges that cross the river around Washington, D.C.), as well as business taxes and water claims. Anyway. Onward to the photos. Below is the official Great Falls Tavern, and not the wannabe that’s on the other side of the river in Virginia (See? Lot’s of confusion…).
The image below is unremarkable, though it does illustrate just how low the Potomac is now. Normally the diagonal structure is completely underwater — as is most of the foreground — but we haven’t had any decent rain since Hurricane Sandy, so the river level is dropping.
The 30-year-old replica freight boat Canal Clipper III was damaged by winter storms and permanently retired in 2003. Below is it’s 2006 replacement, the Charles F. Mercer, a replica, double-decked, canal packet boat which you can read about here. I know it seems hard to believe, but I don’t ever remember seeing the new boat before, so I was quite surprised to see the top structure.
The images below were taken on the scenic boardwalk over to Olmsted Island. And what should I discover at the Great Falls overlook? A bunch of photogs! They were either a class or one of regional photo clubs, as they were keenly following directions from the guy in the light blue shirt. And here is what they were there to record. Kinda low. I’ve got photos somewhere from back in the 1990s of the water so high that none of the rocks are visible.
Heading back to the car, I saw evidence that Olmsted Island had high water fairly recently, with low areas being scoured clean and log jams well above normal water levels. And one last shot of the canal boat before hopping back in the car to head for points further south.