At this spot the Potomac is extremely shallow during most of the year, so many travelers and others before about 1940 used the fords to cross the river. During the Civil War, the area was a great route for smugglers, troops crossing into unfriendly territory, of for slaves seeking freedom in the North.
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal was built on the eastern side of the river, flanked by the railroad. Today, only the towpath remains, as the canal has been destroyed by flooding from hurricanes.
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