In doing some online research on businesses located in Georgetown, I stumbled on this great book produced by the US Dept. of the Interior and the National Park Service in 1991 entitled “C&O Canal, The Making of A Park,” by Barry Mackintosh. The book outlines the enormous challenges the NPS had in creating the C&O Canal NP and how it was done. Lots of great info including a battle they had between the B&O RR in Georgetown over a spit of land called “The Mole.”
The Mole was historically significant in that the “water gate” of the C&O Canal was located at the very tip of this peninsula. The C&O Canal itself emptied into the Rock Creek just a few hundred yards upstream. But barges would float from the Canal, into the creek and on into the Potomac when traffic was heavy. Don’t forget there was an inclined plane a couple miles up the Potomac where barges could drop down from the Canal to the Potomac and float into Georgetown on the river.
I have seen track charts depicting the railroad extending on to the Mole in its early years but I had never known of its name nor of what was exactly there. Thankfully, this book has a couple nice photos and a description of the area. They also discuss “Parcel G” (seen on the map above) which the NPS and B&O fought over due to environmental and economic concerns. (The NPS wanted the B&O out and the B&O wanted to stay; remember, construction was booming in Washington, DC. Supplying that massive demand was the B&O’s priority.) Eventually the B&O would relent, moving the American Cement Corp. from the Mole over to a location in the large yard. As for McGuire & Rolfe Inc.’s asphalt plant, I am not sure what happened to it.
This also answers a big puzzle I have pondered for some time. In the B&ORRHS Archives there are blueprints for changes to the tracks in the old yard dated 9/27/1941. I had wondered why they were modifying it, and on the blueprint you can see the ghost of the sidings which had extended on to the Mole. Reading this book, it all makes sense. The B&O had to remove those tracks due to the agreement they made with the NPS for the C&O Canal NP.