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C&O Canal Trust Works to Make Park Accessible and Inclusive

By News, Uncategorized

Lock 2 in Georgetown by Paul Graunke

American essayist, author, and briefly National Park ranger, Edward Abbey once said, “The national parks belong to everyone. To the people. To all of us.” For those of us who love our national parks, who cross off a park with a “bucket list” level of commitment each time we visit, this statement rings true. Our national parks allow people to explore the natural world and wonders around us, a window into the past and the breathtaking beauty of lands preserved. And yet, while everyone is welcome, so many, especially those of differing backgrounds, often experience barriers preventing visitation. The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) offers so much incredible history for visitors of all ages and backgrounds to explore. But there are many who have yet to visit our local national park, or who have not had the opportunity to experience its historical and natural resources. Read More

Trust Leads Successful Spring Clean-Up Events in April

By News

Photo by Francis Grant-Suttie

Spring has sprung in the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP), and with it, the C&O Canal Trust – as the official nonprofit of the Park – has jumped straight into the busiest season of the year. Every spring and summer, as the days get longer and bluebells pop along the towpath seemingly overnight, the C&O Canal Trust begins outdoor programming in various areas of the Park. From Canal Community Days volunteer events to Canal For All service projects to hikes along the towpath, the C&O Canal Trust has had a very active April. Read More

Celebrating National Preservation Month

By Explore Your Park, History, News, Things to Do
May is National Preservation Month! This month-long celebration of unique and diverse histories and cultures began in 1973 as National Preservation Week. In 2005, National Preservation Week was extended to an entire month, and today, we celebrate the entire month of May. For the C&O Canal Trust, National Preservation Month gives us the opportunity to reflect on the importance of C&O Canal history and how we can continue to expand preservation efforts of historic structures and natural resources found in the Park.
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C&O Canal Trust Presents Park with $127,500 in Support of Programs

By News

As the philanthropic partner to the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP), the C&O Canal Trust works to raise funds for vital Park programs that improve the visitor experience and preserve the historical and natural integrity of the C&O Canal. Thanks to the generosity of individual donors and foundations, the Trust presented the Park with a gift of $127,500 in support of three key programs including Canal Classrooms; Rare, Threatened, and Endangered (RTE) Plants; and Towpath Resurfacing. Read More

Trust Hosts Active Volunteer Service and Educational Programs In October

By News

The C&O Canal Trust welcomed more than 70 individuals to the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) in October for volunteer service and educational programs.

Kite Pharma volunteers at Weverton with the C&O Canal Trust. Photo by Trust Staff.

Groups with the Washington County Division of Stormwater Management and Kite Pharma worked with the Trust to collectively remove nearly 2,000 pounds of trash from Weverton between mile markers 57 and 59 during two volunteer events. Trust volunteers responded to an immediate need for trash cleanup in the area, providing vital support to the Park and visitors. Along with general trash, the groups removed items like a frying pan, fishing nets, metal folding chairs, and a card table. Volunteers with Shepherd University helped remove over 200 pounds of trash from Lock 38, another busy access point in Washington County. Read More

Thank You to Our Canal Community who Helped Raise Over $200,000 at Park After Dark!

By News

Photo by Szemere Photography

On September 17, the C&O Canal Trust celebrated a rainy Park After Dark with more than 160 guests at the Historic Great Falls Tavern. Thanks to the generosity of our canal community, the event raised over $200,000 that will directly support Park and Trust initiatives. Of the funds raised at the event, nearly $35,000 will support the Trust’s Canal For All community outreach program. Read More

National Park Service Focuses on Invasive Plant Management

By News

Photo by Trust Staff

The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) is home to over 1,500 species of plants, including over 260 non-native plant species. The C&O Canal NHP’s Natural Resources staff has made significant progress on the management and removal of invasive species found within the Park throughout 2023. Through a partnership between the Park’s Natural Resources staff and the NPS National Capital Region Invasive Plant Management (IPM) team, treatment planning and work is underway.  Read More

Don and Liz Harrison to Receive the William O. Douglas Stewardship Award at Park After Dark

By News

Photo by Francis Grant-Suttie

Each year, during the C&O Canal Trust’s Park After Dark gala, the Trust recognizes individuals for their deep commitment to the preservation of the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) with the William O. Douglas Stewardship Award. The award is the Trust’s highest honor and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated Justice Douglas’ spirit of stewardship.  Read More

C&O Canal National Historical Park is an Economic Engine for Surrounding Communities

By News

Image Credit: Jane Schmidt

National parks have long been revered for their natural beauty and historical significance, but they are also a vital part of our nation’s economy and help drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation industry. According to a new National Park Service (NPS) report, 2022 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, nearly 312 million visitors spent $29.3 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park last year. These expenditures supported a total of 378,400 jobs. The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) helped lead the economic impact among NPS sites in Maryland, second only to Assateague Island National Seashore in total visitor spending. Read More

Park After Dark is One Month Away!

By News

Photo by Turner Photography Studio

We look forward to welcoming our canal community to Park After Dark at the Historic Great Falls Tavern on Sunday, September 17, 2023—just one month from today! Park After Dark is the largest annual fundraising event to benefit the C&O Canal National Historical Park. It is a wonderful opportunity to come together, highlight the work of the C&O Canal Trust, and gain insight and vision for the future from Park and Trust leadership. There are a variety of ways to be part of Park After Dark. Read More

Canal For All: Fostering Inclusivity and Diversity in C&O Canal National Historical Park

By Canal For All, News

Canal For All group Girls Inc. enjoys programming at Lock 44 in Williamsport. Photo by Francis Grant-Suttie.

The C&O Canal Trust’s Canal For All program works in partnership with the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) to provide opportunities for education, stewardship, and volunteerism that are safe, welcoming, and inclusive for all. To foster diversity and to better reflect our community, Canal For All engages BIPOC, differently-abled, LGBTQIA+, and other underrepresented or disadvantaged communities. We partner with community organizations to diminish participation barriers and create exciting and relevant opportunities to Play, Learn, Serve, and Work in the Park.

In 2023, Canal For All has grown to serve nearly 300 youth and adults and will exceed that number by the end of the year. The program’s impact and diversity have expanded in notable ways. Several new community organizations have partnered with the program, expanding our demographic reach to include adults with Down syndrome, LGBTQ+, and our first groups in Virginia.  Read More

Trust Celebrates Latino Conservation Week 2023

By Canal For All, News

Latino Conservation Week nature crafts. Photo by Community Bridges.

The Trust hosted a Latino Conservation Week celebration on July 22 at Great Falls. In partnership with Community Bridges and Girls Who Hike Virginia, the Canal for All event welcomed 25 youth and adults for a fun day of crafts, hiking, and plant species identification. Latino Conservation Week is an initiative of the Hispanic Access Foundation created to support the Latino community in enjoying the outdoors and participating in activities to protect natural resources. Over 220 events were held nationwide by numerous community, nonprofit, and faith-based organizations from July 15-23.  Read More

C&O Canal National Historical Park Continues Important Work to Protect Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Plants

By Nature, News

Student Conservation Association interns planting smooth rock skullcap at a site in the Potomac Gorge area. Photo by C&O Canal NHP/NPS.

The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) is focused on the long-term conservation of rare, threatened, and endangered (RTE) plant species throughout the Park. Its comprehensive strategy to conserve these plants includes identification, monitoring, habitat protection, seed collection, plant propagation, and establishing new populations of RTE species in unique habitat niches in the Park. That strategy has recently come full circle as the first several hundred plants from five species of RTE plants, processed and propagated from collected seeds, have been outplanted into appropriate habitats in the Park. Read More

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

By News

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. Read More

Trust Partners with Smithsonian Associates for C&O Canal Tour

By History, Landmarks, News, Program

Smithsonian Associates group visits Great Falls in the C&O Canal NHP. Photo by Francis Grant-Suttie

The C&O Canal Trust partnered with Smithsonian Associates to provide a day-long tour of the C&O Canal National Historical Park on June 2. Thirty-six participants braved the heat to explore several parts of the Park, including Great Falls and Rileys Lock. The tour included a guided tour of Lockhouse 22 at Pennyfield. Lockhouse 22 is one of seven rehabilitated lockhouses in the Canal Quarters program, which gives visitors the opportunity to book up to three consecutive nights in a historic lockhouse. Read More

Support the Park: Sign Up for TowpathGO!

By News

Photo by Paul Graunke

If you love the C&O Canal National Historical Park and enjoy recreating in the Park, we’ve got a great way for you to combine your passions and support the Park! Sign up for TowpathGO and rally support from your friends and family for this unique peer-to-peer fundraising challenge. Join us for this year’s TowpathGO!

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Annual Artwork Contest Seeks Logo for 2024 Canal Community Days

By Canal Community Days, News

The C&O Canal Trust is conducting its annual t-shirt artwork contest to find a logo representing our 2024 Canal Community Days events. Artists are invited to create and submit artwork celebrating these annual volunteer events, bringing community members together to beautify the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP).  The winning design will be printed on our Canal Community Days t-shirts and worn by volunteers as they work along the C&O Canal throughout the spring and summer. Read More

C&O Canal Trust Board of Directors Names Lauren Riviello as New President and CEO

By News, Uncategorized

Lauren Riviello by Trust Staff

Williamsport, Md. – The C&O Canal Trust’s board of directors is pleased to announce it has named Lauren Riviello as its new president and CEO. Riviello has more than a decade of nonprofit leadership experience and is deeply passionate about the Trust and its mission. She has served as the Trust’s director of development since February 2021 and will assume the role of president and CEO on April 1, 2023. Read More

C&O Canal Trust Raises Over $200,000 at Park After Dark

By News
On September 17, the C&O Canal Trust welcomed nearly 150 guests to the Historic Great Falls Tavern for the largest fundraising event of the year, Park After Dark. The event, which benefits the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP), raised a total of $223,750—surpassing the Trust’s fundraising goals and previous Park After Dark events. Of the funds raised at the event, $55,000 will directly support the Park’s work to preserve and protect rare, threatened, and endangered plants. Read More

Canal Trust Staff to Host Walks for Walk Maryland Day

By News

Walk Maryland Day by Charissa Hipp

Wednesday, October 5 is the 8th annual Walk Maryland Day. Members of the C&O Canal Trust staff will be hosting walks throughout the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) during the day. The public is invited to attend these walks and participate in Walk Maryland Day, a celebration of Maryland’s official state exercise. With 347 miles of trails in the park, the C&O Canal NHP is the ideal place to enjoy the outdoors and take a walk.

  • 10:00 a.m. – Point of Rocks, 2 miles round trip
  • 11:00 a.m. – Billy Goat C Trail, 2.8 miles round trip
  • 5:00 p.m. – Brunswick Boat Ramp, 2 miles round trip
  • 5:30 p.m. – Cushwa Basin at Williamsport, 3 miles round trip
  • 5:30 p.m. – Little Tonoloway at Hancock, 2.7 miles round trip
  • 6:00 p.m. – Railroad Bridge Bridge Parking on Canal Rd. at Sharpsburg/Shepherdstown, 2-3 miles round trip
  • 6:00 p.m. – Dam 5, 2-3 miles round trip

Participants are encouraged to register as a Sole Mate on the Walk Maryland Day website.

President & CEO of the C&O Canal Trust Robin Zanotti Announces Retirement

By News
Robin Zanotti

Robin Zanotti by Trust Staff

Williamsport, Md. — After more than seven years as president of the C&O Canal Trust, Robin Zanotti has announced she will retire in early 2023. Zanotti is participating in a year of succession planning and transition management with a succession planning team led by the Trust’s Board of Directors. This is meant to ensure the change in leadership is seamless and the organization maintains its momentum in both revenue and program growth.  Read More

C&O Canal Trust Wraps up Successful Canal For All Season

By News

Canal For All at Four Locks by Francis Grant-Suttie

Throughout the month of July, over 300 youth and adults from Community Bridges, the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County and Girls, Inc., of Washington County, and the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle joined us in the park for games, crafts, historical hikes and tours, birdwatching, songs, outdoor skills, and dodging more than a few raindrops. Read More

Picnic Area At Cushwa Gets A Fresh New Look

By News

Photo By Trust Staff

During Williamsport’s Canal Community Days event in May, Trust volunteers and staff put a lot of work into sprucing up the area around Cushwa Basin. Canal Trust staff member Don Street built two raised beds that were added to the picnic area adjacent to the Trolley Barn. Ellen Kinzer from the Trust staff selected native perennials from The Native Niche like Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea), False Salomon’s Seal (Smilacina racemosa), and Heartleaf Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) that were planted by volunteers during the event. Read More

Celebrating Olmsted’s Living Legacy

By News

‘Great Falls from Olmstead Island’ by Kara McNulty

This year the nation is celebrating the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Law Olmsted with a yearlong Olmsted 200 celebration. Olmsted was considered the founder of American Landscape Architecture, designing some of our most celebrated landmarks in the United States, such as Central Park and the U.S. Capitol Grounds in Washington, D.C. His work preserving America’s Scenic Spaces left its mark, even laying the foundation for the national park system. When he retired in 1895, his sons continued his legacy. Read More

Visitors to C&O Canal National Historical Park Create $161 Million Economic Benefit to Gateway Communities; Support 1,360 Jobs

By News

Image Credit: NPS

National parks are a vital part of our nation’s economy and help drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation industry. According to a new National Park Service report, 2021 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, approximately 6.7 million visitors spent $247 million in local gateway regions while visiting National Park Service lands in Maryland last year. These expenditures supported a total of 2,940 jobs, $130 million in labor income, $215 million in value added, and $344 million in economic output in the Maryland economy. The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) helps lead the economic impact among NPS sites in Maryland, second only to Assateague Island National Seashore in total visitor spending. Read More

C&O Canal Trust Celebrates Kids to Parks Day at Fletchers Cove

By News

Photo Credit: Francis Grant-Suttie

Despite the record heat, which made it feel more like a mid-summer day, the C&O Canal Trust’s celebration of Kids to Parks Day at Fletchers Cove was filled with smiles and enthusiastic participants. Children and their families were greeted by staff from the Trust and from WUSA9 who volunteered to help with programming for the day. Children were invited to complete Junior Ranger booklets and participate in a variety of activities.  Read More

Nearly 50 Volunteers Participated in 15th Annual Canal Community Days Clean-Up Event in Williamsport

By News, Volunteer

Photo Credit: Francis Grant-Suttie

Williamsport, Md. – On Saturday, May 14, the C&O Canal Trust, in partnership with the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP), hosted its 15th annual Canal Community Days event in Williamsport. Nearly 50 volunteers from around the community spent the morning working on projects to restore and revitalize the C&O Canal at Cushwa Basin and Lockhouse 44. Read More

Trust Hosts First Successful Canal Community Days Event of 2022 at Great Falls

By News

Photo by Francis Grant-Suttie

The C&O Canal National Historical Park received a lot of love on Saturday, April 23, 2022, as the C&O Canal Trust welcomed volunteers, elected officials, Trust Board Members, and partnering organizations into the Park at Great Falls for our first Canal Community Days volunteer event of the season. Nearly 100 volunteers successfully removed over 1,000 pounds of trash and invasive plants, spread 15 yards of mulch in the picnic area, painted several park features, sanded the Mercer, and cleaned the Tavern’s first-floor windows.
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Trust Supports Preservation of Rare Plants in the C&O Canal National Historical Park

By News

A Biodiversity Treasure in Peril

The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) is beloved for its natural beauty, rich recreational opportunities, and accessibility for over five million visitors. What is less well known is that it is one of the most biologically diverse national parks in the nation. Since its creation in 1971, nearly 200 rare, threatened, or endangered (RTE) plants, some of which are globally rare and unique. But that number appears to be dwindling. Between 2008 and 2020, just 106 previously identified RTE species were found along the C&O Canal. Invasive non native plants, regional urbanization, and surging visitation have all taken their toll on the fragile habitats that make such diversity possible. With the addition of unfolding climate change, the National Park Service (NPS) is facing complex challenges to conserve these resources.  Read More

Celebrate FeBREWary with the C&O Canal Libations Trail

By Eat/Drink, News
We are excited to announce the widely popular C&O Canal Libations Trail will carry on in 2023! Featuring craft breweries located in or nearby the ten Canal Towns, the popular trail was developed in a joint effort involving Allegany, Montgomery, Frederick, and Washington county tourism bureaus, Visit Maryland, C&O Canal Trust, and the Canal Towns Partnership as part of the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s 50th anniversary year long celebration in 2021. Read More

Seeking Freedom Beyond the C&O Canal

By Blog, History, News
The Potomac River and its companion C&O Canal were the northern boundary of the Confederate states.  Many people fled to that boundary and the Union protection beyond it.  A curious passage from Civil War Captain Michael Egan’s “The Flying, Gray-Haired Yank” reads “The post [Hancock] was also a transfer point on the “underground railway” between Maryland and Virginia, where, before my arrival, large amounts of goods contraband of war were permitted to pass with a superficial examination, or without any inspection.”   Read More