May 19, 2007
Low bridge, everybody down
On a Friday evening, sunlight glances off the stone walls of the canal. Kids run along the towpath, tossing rocks into the water, racing ahead to get to the next bridge while young parents push strollers along the gravel path. My parents bring a bicycle built-for-two to the canal and pedal along, attracting looks from runners as they go past. Urban Sophisticate often runs along the canal when she is home for a visit and training for a marathon, and I go there in the evening sometimes with Signing Friend to take her dog for a walk. When I was a teenager, Outdoor Girl and I went canoeing on the canal, paddling along for miles. In the winter, the canal can be a smooth surface for ice skating.
When the canal opened in 1825, hailed by many as the engineering feat of the nineteenth century, the 363-mile long waterway was used primarily for transporting goods, although packet boats would sometimes carry a load of passengers as well. I've seen the boats in a museum downtown, so I can picture one moving slowly through the water pulled by mules whose hoofs would thud against the packed dirt of the towpath. As I stood on a bridge to take this photo, I could almost hear the call of the boatman yelling, "Low bridge! Very low!" warning anyone enjoying the sun on the roof to duck down.
Posted by jo(e)