Alot of people traveled the I&M canal and each had their story. In France we visited a vineyard ordered planted by Charlemagne 800, along the I&M Canal not even 200 years old, Abe Lincoln rode the gentle water pulled by a mule, and one of my favorites Wild Bill Hickock was there too. In fact, back then most of the mule drivers were young boys aged 14 – 17. Wild Bill, then just “James Butler” was there driving mules.
Today one boat remains for tours and a little ride.
We came by just as they were heading out, with a one horse, I mean mule-powered engine.
Well Wild Bill witnessed another mule-driver mistreating his animals and took exception. A fight, or “bug tussle” ensued and the two went into the water. Each came out thinking they had killed the other, and rather than face a hanging, the two separately headed West to Indian territories. Now that’s how to start an adventure. Of course Wild Bill’s ended with aces and eights, but that’s another story. We just waved to the boat and pedaled on.
Farther from the big city, you can see the impact of the economy and hard times and many times we ride between neglected trail and passing abandoned industry. Still there’s beauty on the trail.
One section of the trail was closed, so we entered and rode down to see for ourselves. We found a washed out bridge, but somebody had taken the warning signs and laid them down at a narrow section so we could use it as a footbridge across. Score one for disrespect for authority. Then since the trail was closed, the rangers didn’t do much clearing and we had a section of under the tree
or over the tree. Personally I enjoyed that section….
At the end, riding the I&M canal let us walk in the footsteps of people who helped build the country, some famous, some infamous, almost all of them with an adventurous spirit.