Hidden DC: An Aqueduct Bridge

Watering Washington


Montgomery Cunningham Meigs, Quartermaster General of the Union Army during the Civil War, was the brains and driving force behind the creation of the 12-mile long Washington Aqueduct system which supplies water to the city to this day.

The 9-foot diameter brick and mortar conduit begins near Great Falls on the Potomac river and travels downhill where it drains into several reservoirs along the way.

At the foot of Georgetown, where Rock Creek drains into the Potomac, Meigs built an ingenious bridge to carry the water across the gap in 48-inch cast iron mains which also supported the weight of the bridge.

Since its’ completion in 1863 it has been repaired and modified and Rock Creek bridge has been rebuilt and extended though the cast iron mains are still in use.

They are once again reworking the bridge, giving a rare glimpse of Meigs’ genius beneath.

Here’s the bridge looking south toward the river.

Rock Creek Bridge

And a look from topside at the main.

Of particular interest are the collars and the arms which stabilize the pipe.

Check out the beautiful fluting on the collar covers.

Collar cover close up:

Huge cast iron arms lock the pipe in place using the collar area as the attach point.

Here’s the attach point:

And the bracing arm locked into place.

Some very cool 19th-century engineering, still going strong in the 21st.

I think I will go have a cool drink of water.


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