19th Century Prints, Contemporary, Engraving, Monoprint, Past/Present, Prints, Wood

Past/Present: C & O Canal

Today we have a new P/P post, featuring two images of the Chesapeake &  Ohio Canal. The Canal was built in the years between 1828 and 1850. In the 19th and early 20th century, the C&O Canal provided jobs and opportunities for people throughout the Potomac River Valley, from the tidal basin in Washington D.C. to the mountains of Western Maryland.  Cargo, mostly coal, was moved down the waterway on boats.  The rich harvest of coal from western Allegany County mines became the mainstay of canal shipping. A small world of canal enterprise developed around the boat basins and locks–stables, drydocks, hotels, saloons and warehouses were all created as a result of the Canal and it’s steady stream of workers. By1870, canal boats moved almost a million tons of freight, not only coal but building materials, lumber, and flour from local mills. It was a seven day trip down the canal from Cumberland, MD  to Georgetown. Although no longer functional, the canal still endures as a pathway for discovering historical, natural, and recreational treasures.

Our older print is from “Picturesque Washington”, a book published by J. A. & R. A. Reid, Providence, 1884-90. The print is a wood engraving, and has been hand colored with a light watercolor wash. Our contemporary print is by local printmaker Martha Oatway. The print comes from a series of monoprints depicting Lock 7 of the C&O Canal, located in Glen Echo, Maryland. Oatway was inspired by the reflections of the tree branches in the canal, and based her imagery on the watery abstractions.

Image on Left: Along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Published by J. A. & R. A. Reid, Providence. Wood engraving, hand colored, 1884-90.

Image on Right: C&O Canal Lock 7 Series. #12 by Martha Oatway. Monoprint on mylar, 2009. edition 1.


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