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Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park Awarded $150,000 in Centennial Funds to Match Funds Raised by C&O Canal Trust

Funded projects include repairs to Marsden Tract Bridge, implementation of Canal Classrooms at Great Falls

Hagerstown, MD – The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park and its official nonprofit partner, the C&O Canal Trust, today announced an award of nearly $150,000 in grant funding from the National Park Service’s Centennial Challenge. The award is designated for two projects: the repair of the Marsden Bridge in the Potomac area of the Park, and the expansion of the Canal Classrooms program in Great Falls.

To be eligible for the Centennial Challenge awards, the Park had to apply with a partner who had matching funds ready to be spent by the end of fiscal year 2015. The Trust has been fundraising for the past year for the two projects and enabled the Park to receive the 50/50 matching funds from the Centennial Challenge.

The Marsden Bridge project will replace the canal bridge that links MacArthur Boulevard to the towpath in the vicinity of the Marsden Tract Campground. The current bridge has fallen into disrepair and will be replaced with a pre-fabricated bridge. This initiative is part of the C&O Canal Trust’s “Towpath Forever” fundraising effort to assist the Park in repairs that will keep it safe for visitors and improve access to the towpath. The Trust will donate $75,000 to the project, matched by $75,000 from the Centennial Challenge for a total of $150,000 to replace the bridge.

The Canal Classrooms program is the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s education program, currently in its third year. This scalable program provides thousands of school-aged children with the chance to use the Park as an outdoor classroom, where they learn through experiential opportunities that utilize national and state standards; curriculum that includes Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) concepts as well as history lessons; and the integration of technology. Canal Classrooms served 9,000 students last year and plans to increase this number every year as the program’s capacity grows. With this new funding, Canal Classrooms will be able to fund its growth in Great Falls. The Trust will donate $65,000 to the program, with the Friends of Historic Great Falls Tavern and Freedom’s Run contributing another $5,000 each. Combined with another $74,999 from the Centennial Challenge, the Canal Classrooms program will be funded for a total of $149,999 this fiscal year.

“We are pleased to learn that these two important C&O Canal Park projects have been selected for Centennial awards,” stated Park Superintendent Kevin D. Brandt. “The matching funds that the C&O Canal Trust provided were integral in us being selected for the Centennial match, and we are grateful to them for their ongoing financial support of the Park.”

Trust President Robin Zanotti echoed Brandt’s enthusiasm. “It is thrilling to learn that, with the addition of the Centennial funds, we can now proceed with these two projects for which we have been fundraising. Both projects are right in our wheelhouse, as we focus on fundraising on both Towpath Forever and Canal Classrooms. It is very satisfying to be able to make such an impact for our C&O Canal Park partner and the Park’s visitors.”

The Centennial Challenge awards are part of an initiative by the National Park Service to help parks prepare for centennial visitors. Over $26 million and 106 initiatives were funded as a part of this effort.

The National Park Service received a $10 million congressional appropriation that was matched with $15.9 million from more than 90 partner organizations. The 106 projects, located at more than 100 parks in 31 states and the District of Columbia, are designed to improve visitor services, support outreach to new audiences, and leverage partnerships to reinvigorate national parks while forging connections with communities.

“As the National Park Service approaches its centennial in 2016, the National Park Foundation and local park friends groups have pledged to raise private funds to improve the facilities, accessibility, and programs of our national parks, matching the federal appropriation and resulting in a $26 million investment in the parks, “ said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.