Fight for 'Indian' canal may soon end

March 24, 1995|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

Martha Jachowski and John Mogey are hoping their two-year fight to save a piece of history is nearing the final round.

The two Pinehurst on the Bay residents have been lobbying the county to purchase 19 acres surrounding the "Indian" canal as an addition to Downs Memorial Park.

The 12-foot-deep trench got its name because children used to find arrowheads along its edges. It runs 500 yards from the Chesapeake Bay to Bodkin Creek.

The $83,500 to buy the land would come from a state open space grant. The proposal has been reviewed by the county Department of Recreation and Parks, the Budget Office and the Planning Advisory Board. County Executive John G. Gary Jr. must now decide whether to keep the project in the budget he will send to the County Council in May.

The wedge of land would expand Downs Memorial Park as far north as Riverside Drive and west from Pinehurst Drive to the waterfront.

"Here is something that as far as we know is untouched," said Mr. Mogey, treasurer for the Pinehurst on the Bay-Bodkin Community Association. "It's 200 years old, and with all the development going on around it, it would be good for the county if we kept it."

The tract survived a developer's plan to build 12 houses on 60 acres that included a portion of the canal. The state Critical Area Law prevented him from building on the land.

The origin of the canal is uncertain. Al Lukenbach, an archaeologist with the county Office of Planning and Zoning, believes the canal was built by slave labor because it was such a large undertaking. He said it was probably used to transport lumber, tobacco and crops from Locust Cove.

Although land records show colonists had settled in the region in the early 1600s, the first reference to the canal was in 1790, in a land deed.

The waterless canal is now closed off at the bay by a sandbar.

Mr. Mosby and Ms. Jachowski have had the canal listed with the Maryland Inventory of Historic Places.

Ms. Jachowski says the canal will be valuable to future generations. "It's an educational tool for children," she said. "Just that little bit of history could lead a student to go further with the history."

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