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Swains Lockhouse rehab celebrates Park Service Centennial

This summer marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. That’s huge because of what the national parks mean to us, and how many millions of people have marveled at the natural and historic wonders that are protected within park boundaries.

So what’s a good birthday present for such a popular 100-year-old? “We wanted a really special project that we could all rally around,” said Becky Curtis, Director of Programs and Partnerships for the C&O Canal Trust.

The gift couldn’t be more appropriate—rehab a lockhouse for everyone to enjoy in one of the most popular spots along the C&O Canal. It’s a project so exceptional that four different organizations are pooling their resources to make it happen:

  • C&O Canal Trust
  • National Park Service
  • Friends of the Historic Great Falls Tavern
  • C&O Canal Association

Swain’s Lockhouse at Lock 21 was chosen to salute the centennial celebration for the National Park Service, and here’s why:

  • What a spot! Swains Lockhouse, just upstream from the Historic Great Falls Tavern, is close to D.C. and has beautiful views of the Canal and the Potomac.
  • Family history. Members of the Swain family continuously occupied the lockhouse since 1909. That’s before the National Park Service! The Swain family ran a popular boat rental concession until they left the home in 2006.
  • A lockhouse in need of love. According to Curtis at the Canal Trust, Swains Lockhouse is in  urgent need of rehab. The home, originally built in 1832, was actively deteriorating and its condition needed to be addressed.

Plans for the rehab are well underway, and the actual construction is scheduled to begin this summer.  The C&O Canal Trust is planning an open house at Swains June 25-26 so visitors can see the “before” picture of the lockhouse. When rehab is completed in 2017, Swains will become the seventh lockhouse in the Canal Quarters program—welcoming overnight guests seeking an authentic lockhouse experience.

Happy Birthday, National Park Service!

Next Time

Learn more about how the Canal Classrooms program will integrate with Swains Lockhouse. Read it now!