Close to Home: Cabin John Bridges

March 21, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

There is a peculiar bridge that one has to cross when driving from Cabin John to Glen Echo or DC on MacArthur Boulevard. It´s the one-lane Union Arch Bridge, also inofficially known as the Cabin John Bridge. From its completion in 1864 until 1903 the main span was the longest single-span masonry arch in the world. Back then it was quite a tremendous engineering feat. It was built as part of the Washington Aqueduct, the road surface was added later. Today we drive over or pass underneath it without wasting a thought. I tried grasping the significance of the structure by walking along the Cabin John Trail close to the bridge (coincidentally we live right by the Cabin John Trail and Creek, but a few miles further up towards Potomac/Bethesda). There is a narrow path leading from the road level down to the Cabin John Creek. As the path levels out there are more bridges consisting of Cabin John and Clara Barton Parkways. These are of course modern structures with the usual concrete pragmatism and eyesores. It´s really difficult getting an unobstructed view of the Union Arch Bridge, the best I could do was to climb down the boulders along the bank to the level of the creek. The trail itself winds underneath all of the bridges and merges onto the towpath of the C & O Canal.







The great stonearch with Cabin John Parkway passing underneath.







In the shadow of one of the other bridges. It´s really hard to imagine that Cabin John Creek was

navigable at some point. See also this historic picture.







The modern day connectors.







Clara Barton Parkway passing over Cabin John Parkway.

















Spooky. Was Danny here?







The end of Cabin John Creek, behind the viewpoint it flows into the C & O Canal.











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