Tuesday, May 3, 2016

5/3 Dismal Swamp

Docked at the Visitors Center

 We woke to a rainy and dismal day.  The Elizabeth City Bridge was fixed and we made the first morning opening at 7:30.  We headed for the Dismal Swamp Canal that connects the Albemarle and the Chesapeake. 

Some days have a lot of firsts and today was on of them.  Very soon after we headed north there was a train bridge that is normally open.  A train was going over it today.  You don't often see a train in front of you on the water.  It was kind of neat.  This train bridge is run by hand and after the train went by the bridge tender walked out on the bridge and opened the bridge in the pouring rain. 
Train on Bridge
Bridge Tender Opening Train Bridge by Hand

George Washington invested in the Dismal Swamp Land Company.  The investors planned to build the canal for transportation and to drain the swamp and cut the trees to sell the timber.  The labor was done by slaves.  Some people sent their slaves to work on the canal so that they could be paid.  It was hard work, with lots of mosquitos and other bugs.  Many slaves seeking freedom were hidden in the Dismal Swamp as part of the Underground Railroad.  Today the Canal is kept mostly for pleasure boaters, like us. 

In the rain, everything seemed dismal, but beautiful.  It felt like you could reach out an touch the foliage.  There were some good sized logs to dodge in the canal too.  Just to make it interesting while cruising along.  
Big log to dodge
Dismal Swamp Canal from Pontoon Bridge

Another new experience was going through our first lock on the loop.  There will be many more to come, including one tomorrow.  It is very cool.  The lock master lines everyone up on both sides of the lock.  He helps you to wrap a line from the bow and one from the stern to bollards that are on the sides about 10 feet up.  Then he closes the back of the lock and opens the front some to let the water rise.  All the boats rise along the sides and finally, he opens the front of the lock the whole way and everyone leaves the lock on their merry way.
View from inside the South Mills Lock

Another new experience came when we got to the Dismal Swamp Canal Visitor Center.  There is a nice dock but only enough space for 3-4 boats.  So extra boats raft up to your boat so that everyone has a place for the night.  We are on the dock and rafting with the folks from Knot Too Big.

The Dismal Swamp State Park is just a brief walk over a pontoon bridge.  It provided lots of history and information about the flora and fauna of the swamp.  Walking over the bridge it was neat to look at our boats.   Just over the bridge, I saw deer enjoying their day.  There is a boardwalk over the swamp.  While it had tons of mosquitos, it also had these beautiful flowers from the tulip trees.  There were birds and butterflies too numerous to count.

Tomorrow, we continue north and will cross into Virginia.

Lat 36 degrees 30.40 minutes North
Long 76 degrees 21.36 minutes West

1 comment:

  1. Hi Guys, We've been following you since we met you in the Dismal Swamp. Great Blog! We have a picture of you on our blog and in our video. You can see it here. :) http://www.searchingforcshels.com/sfcs/2016/5/15/north-bound-new-bern-nc-to-deep-creek-basin-dismal-swamp