Wednesday, June 1, 2016

C and O Rocks

The C and O Canal has always been a part of my life. When I was two or three years old, my mother used to take me to feed bread crusts to the ducks near Great Falls.  These weren't wild birds but gynormous white creatures which definitely added a fear factor to the thrill of the expedition.

On winter days my friends and I kept a close eye on the thermometer studying the stats like the scores in a ball game. Below freezing for a few days? Then time to cruise along Canal Road or out to Swain's Lock to check out how thick the ice was for skating. And in summer you could rent a row boat or a canoe.

Our canal has been around since George Washington wanted to float things upriver in 1785. After much hemming and hawing, ground breaking finally happened July 4, 1828,  replete with John Quincy Adams attending, but the project was a goner from the git go.  The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad would reach Cumberland first demoting the canal to obsolete though it took quite a while to wind down.

The Swain family of Swain's Lock lived in the lock house until relatively recently- surviving both the Johnstown flood in 1889,  Hurricane Agnes in 1972, and the transition of the canal to the National Park service in 1938 which looks after the towpath we know today.

The C & O  Canal also strikes a chord with former hometown boys Eric Brace and Peter Cooper- so much so they named their latest project after it. The album is a tribute to this area's rich vein of songwriting and music clubs and covers a lot of local history- geographical as well as social. Emmy Lou Harris, Bill Danoff, the Seldom Scene and the Rosslyn Mountain Boys are all represented bringing back memories of places like the Red Fox Inn, Gallagher's, the Cellar Door and the Birchmere. All scenes where Eric and Peter found their spark. Come see what it's all about at their CD release party at  Jammin Java this Friday. All ages $15.

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