Civil War Transcendence, part 26

I only had 21st century money, and didn’t know if there was a fee for crossing the bridge. I now wished I had relieved the drunk of his few coins!

My clothes stank of whiskey, so I put a little stagger in my step — which wasn’t so hard, due to the pungent smell. I was a little inebriated just from whiffing the aroma of my coat!

I proceeded toward the team of mules that were hitched in a single file harness with a teamster who sat on the first mule. He was urging the team down the towpath. The mules’ harness had a large rope that was attached to the boat. They were pulling the boat into the lock.  Since the process was both tricky and dangerous, the teamster’s attention was on trying to fit the boat in the lock without doing damage to the sides — plus stopping the boat without busting the downstream gate.

I walked…make that staggered…past the teamster, who was just a boy.

He snickered as I went by, and when the whiskey aroma hit his nostrils asked, “Got any left?”

I answered, “Nope,” and continued to the lock bridge.

Along the C&O Canal

Along the C&O Canal. Image courtesy of Library of Congress

There was a man operating the opening mechanism for the lock’s upstream gate. The gates, located at each end of the lock, were configured like a draw bridge, except they were placed horizontally at each end of the lock. The lock bridge was on top of the upstream gate, and since it was open, the bridge’s two halves were separated…and wouldn’t come together until the gate was closed. Once the boat was securely in the lock, the lockkeeper closed the gate. I walked toward the lock bridge.

The lockkeeper barred my way.

About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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