Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A stone culvert, hidden in plain view

I was using, tracing the National Road in Catonsville, Maryland, looking for old alignments and other things that might catch my eye. I was using the high resolution aerial photographs, following the course of the National Road along the Patapsco River, when I came across a curious structure.

It looked like a stone culvert, carrying some stream under the National Road, into the Patapsco River. This seemed impossible - surely I would have noticed it on the many times that I've driven by - right?

If you are on the National Road, heading west, following the Patapsco River, you'll get to a gas station. Park in the parking lot of the gas station. You won't be able to see anything obvious from the road. Just after the gas station is a concrete culvert:
Twin stone arch culvert, just east of Ellicott City, Maryland

The culvert is taller than the photograph suggests - the water level is usually very low - such that I had no trouble walking (albeit rather bent over) down the culvert to the other side. It's also possible to just cross the road, but it's a five or six foot drop, and there's a fair amount of brush.

About halfway through the culvert, it goes from concrete to stone:
Twin stone arch culvert, just east of Ellicott City, Maryland

When you emerge on the other side and step back, a double arch stone culvert is revealed:
Stone culvert, Ellicott City, Maryland

When the road was widened, the culvert was widened to accomodate the road. This is rather common for stone culverts on the National Road in Maryland. One can also find several bridges in Washington County, Maryland that have been treated similarly.

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