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C&O Canal NHP Receives Maryland Historical Trust Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation and Sustainable Design

Photo by C&O Canal NHP/NPS

The C&O Canal NHP was awarded the 2023 Excellence in Historic Preservation and Sustainable Design award from the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT). The award recognizes the park’s efforts to combat the impacts of flooding with long-term, sustainable solutions along a 0.9-mile stretch between McMahons Mill (mile 88) and Lock 42 (mile 89) in Williamsport, Maryland. The rehabilitated historical retaining wall and towpath ensure future generations will continue to learn and enjoy the C&O Canal in its historical context.

Photo by C&O Canal NHP/Joe Reed/NPS

This project was the largest restoration project in modern Park history, reconstructing missing or washed-out portions of a historic stone masonry retaining wall and stabilizing the towpath, replacing drainage culverts, and removing unnecessary vegetation. To prevent flooding and reduce closures, some portions of the towpath were raised and moved farther inland. The towpath was also widened to allow for emergency and maintenance vehicles, as needed. This section of the towpath was frequently closed during flood events, due to sections that were impassable many times each year, requiring a 3-mile detour for hikers and bikers, on narrow, winding country roads.

Elizabeth Hughes, director of the MHT, presented the award to Engineering Services Team Leader and Civil Engineer Joseph Reed on behalf of the Park, during an outdoor event at McMahons Mill on June 2. Attendees had the opportunity to tour the McMahons Mill area and see the final results of the rehabilitation project. A digital recording of the event is available on MHT’s Facebook page.

Photo by C&O Canal NHP/Joe Reed/NPS