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Weverton: The Little Town that Couldn’t

Train Wallpapers

Big Pool on the C&O Canal

Big Pool Photo Gallery

Weverton Branch of the B&O

Brunswick Railroad Days

Martinsburg B&O Roundhouse

Martinsburg B&O Roundhouse Continued

Martinsburg B&O Roundhouse History

Fort Fredericia

Fort Frederick October 23, 2004

Fort Frederick Photo Gallery

Scottish Heritage Day at Fort King George

Plum Orchard February 2007

Darien GA March 2006

Darien Photos March 2006

Kissing Bridges of Frederick County

Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C. 2005

Seneca Stone Cutting Mill Index Page

Seneca Stone Cutting Mill

Weverton Industrial Village

Weverton Industrial Village - Revisited

Two Trails

LHSA Meeting October 2007

Letchworth State Park

George Eastman House

1st Digital Camera

Chairman Leica Camera

Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi

Bandelier National Monument

St. Marys Kingfish Classic 2007

Train Wallpapers

Big Pool on the C&O Canal

Big Pool Photo Gallery

Weverton Branch of the B&O

Brunswick Railroad Days

Martinsburg B&O Roundhouse

Martinsburg B&O Roundhouse Continued

Martinsburg B&O Roundhouse History

Fort Fredericia

Fort Frederick October 23, 2004

Fort Frederick Photo Gallery

Scottish Heritage Day at Fort King George

Plum Orchard February 2007

Darien GA March 2006

Darien Photos March 2006

Kissing Bridges of Frederick County

Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C. 2005

Seneca Stone Cutting Mill Index Page

Seneca Stone Cutting Mill

Weverton Industrial Village

Weverton Industrial Village - Revisited

Two Trails

LHSA Meeting October 2007

Letchworth State Park

George Eastman House

1st Digital Camera

Chairman Leica Camera

Cathedral of St. Francis of Assisi

Bandelier National Monument

St. Marys Kingfish Classic 2007

Along the banks of the C&O Canal and Potomac River lie the partially buried dreams of many people. Not the least of which was the dream of Caspar Wever.

That dream was to turn the power of the Potomac River into an engine that would power an entire industrial complex. Just upstream from his property, Wever could see the prosperity that harnessing the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers brought to Harper’s Ferry. Unfortunately, his dream has been submerged and almost swallowed by the river and the trees.

Today, you can still traces of the dreams of Caspar Wever and his investors. To get there, you first have to go to Keep Tryst Road off Highway 340. This is the East end of the road next to the railroad tracks. Cross the tracks (carefully!!!) and go downstream on the C&O Canal towpath past lock 31 a few hundred feet. You should see an unmarked path leading toward the river. If you used the right path, you will find a broken concrete slab that extends partway across the creek. [Photo Weverton-18]

You may find your self going up what looks like a small dike or berm; actually, it is probably the remainder of Factory Road, the main road through Weverton. Reaching the river, you may have to look for the Headgates; but once you have found them, you know you’re there – they are massive. You can get to the top of the first Headgate pier by scrambling up the side of the old Factory Road. Once on top, you are 15-20 feet above the sediment between the piers.

 

These Headgates would allow water from the river to flow into the channel where it would turn waterwheels to produce power for industry. The stone-sawing mill was located at the last of these Headgates and at the start of the river dam. [Photo Weverton 08] At the top of this stairway of stone was the mill.

Across the tops of the Headgates, ran Factory Road.  Along this road would be the factories powered by the river.

My thanks to Peter Maynard’s book “Weverton: a failed 19th century industrial village” for helping me put this information into a coherent form.

[Additional History]

Caspar Wever made a reputation as the Superintendent of Construction for the new, Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad in the 1820s and 30s. In this capacity, he oversaw the construction of several beautiful stone arch bridges that serve the railroad today.

That reputation was subsequently tarnished considerably by his failure at town building. The development of a town or a city for economic development is not a new idea for Wever or unique to the United States. For centuries, cities and towns have been developed by people with money (and/or power) to attract and generate more money and/or power through taxes, tariffs, rents, and dues. Caspar Wever was continuing in the grand tradition.

He was also in the land speculation tradition that flourished in the early years of the Colonies and later, United States. What brought forces of land speculation, town-building, and money generation together for Wever was the development of a method of using the force from water mills to power multiple industries at the same time.

Wever must have known about the success of Lowell, Massachusetts. There, in 1823, they had taken a river, put a dam across it, developed a canal, and where the industry of clothing mills flourished and provided jobs, churches, houses, and businesses followed.

By the strangest of coincidences, Caspar Wever owned a lot of land just downstream from Harper’s Ferry, where industrial use of water power was firmly established. His land just happened to be next to the new National Highway, the C&O Canal, and the revolutionary B&O Railroad.

His idea was simple in scope and impossible in execution. Simple because he wanted to provide a source of power to industries which would provide job opportunities, which would attract workers, which would attract other businesses.

Impossible because the new industrial site would be far away from large population centers making the job of finding workers difficult; the Panics of the 1830s and the Depression in the 1840s also delivered blows to the economic viability of the town.

Yet, there were successes. The dam across the Potomac River was constructed (by the C&O Canal for Wever!!!); a file factory, stone sawing mill, and a cotton mill building were all built. [As a note, the cotton mill never operated!] Lots were sold on the Knoxville Road and a hotel and a church were built. Finally, in the great flood of 1852, the entire complex was under multiple feet of water. While parts of the enterprise struggled on into the Civil War Period, the grand plan was doomed.

 

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Copyright © 2013 SamLindsey.com.  All rights reserved.

Privacy Statement

Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited