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C&O Canal Association marks 60th anniversary of Douglas hike

By Staff | Mar 28, 2014

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Association has announced the online publication in PDF format of William E. Davies’ book, The Geology and Engineering Structures of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, at www.candocanal.org/histdocs/Davies-book.pdf. The association is using this publication to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Justice William O. Douglas’ 1954 hike from Cumberland to Georgetown with editors of the Washington Post.

Davies’ book is an invaluable reference for students of the C&O Canal, an almost completely intact, 19th-century canal that is now the C&O Canal National Historical Park. The 636-page book is a 1989 draft of a lifetime work by Davies, a noted geologist and expert on flooding. Although published after his death and unfinished, this work is a uniquely valuable mile-by-mile description of structures and formations along the 184-mile length of the canal as it travels through four major geological provinces Piedmont, Blue Ridge, Great Valley, and Valley and Ridge. Even though the document is a combination of typewritten pages and hand-written notes, online readers can use the search features of their software to locate relevant material.

Davies, a graduate of MIT and Michigan State, began collecting data on the canal in the 1940s. Participation in the 1954 Douglas Hike intensified his interest. Davies investigated every foot of the canal, making detailed notes and drawing diagrams of the structures. The book is supported by 38 linear feet of documentation including field notes, photos, sketches, maps, and copies of original sources. This material was donated to the Western Maryland Room of the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown Md.

Additional information on the C&O Canal NHP and the Douglas Hike may be found at www.nps.gov/choh/index.htm.