The Great Falls

Last weekend we made a trip to the Great Falls of the Potomac river that are located 14 miles upstream from Washington, DC.  There are two parks there: the Great Falls Park is located on the southern banks of the river in Virginia and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal parkland is located on the northern banks in Maryland. 

Both parks are one of our favorite spots to take a walk with the kids, and this time we visited on the Maryland side.  First we took a walk along the C&O canal.

Before the railroads were built, the C&O canal was the lifeline along the Potomac river and was used to transport everything: lumber, coal, grain, and people.  Boats and rafts would go downstream, and they were pulled upstream by horses.  The total length of the canal is about 184.5 miles and there were 74 canal locks.  The canal was in operation from 1831 until 1924.

The canal is now maintained as a park and you can stroll alongside it and see the canal locks.  In spring you can also catch a ride on a reproduction canal boat drawn by horses. 

To get to the vantage point that allows the best view of the rapids, we followed a curved wooden boardwalk complete with a few concrete bridges.  At the very beginning of this path the Potomac river is quite calm but it changes fast to whitewater rapids rushing between jagged rocks.

The wooded banks of the Potomac river looked magical in the warm sunny weather.  The trees are still bare and the landscape is all beige and brown - a perfect work of art on its own. 

Walking and looking at the trees there reminded me of a wonderful pendant I recently saw.  It was made by Albina Manning, an artist from Mesa, AZ.  This pendant was made using the wire wrapping technique.  The artist used a stone she found on one of the beaches of the Atlantic as a base.  The pendant is titled the Sleeping Tree and I think it too is a perfect work of art.  It is so clean, simple and concise that you can't possibly imagine anything being added or removed from it.