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Ground Broken on Swains Lockhouse Rehabilitation

The C&O Canal Trust and the C&O Canal National Historical Park broke ground on the Swains Lockhouse rehabilitation project on March 17, 2018.

Participating in the groundbreaking at Swains Lockhouse are, from left to right, Don Harrison, President of the Friends of the Historic Great Falls Tavern; Bill Holdsworth, President of the C&O Canal Association; Bert Swain, C&O Canal Trust Board Member and member of the Swain family; Kevin Brandt, Superintendent of the C&O Canal National Historical Park; Meshelle’ Johnson, representing Senator Chris Van Hollen; Kevin Mack, representing Congressman John Delaney; and Mike Mitchell, Chair of the C&O Canal Trust Board of Directors.

Since announcing the Swains rehabilitation two years ago, we have successfully raised $75,000 for the project. Work began in February to restore the lockhouse to its appearance in 1916, which will be the time period the lockhouse will interpret once complete. The contractor will begin by making the first floor floor structurally sound. From there, they will jack up and level the second floor and the roof. This will provide a structurally-sound base for their next project: to install a brand new standing seam metal roof, just as the lockhouse would have had in 1916. When complete, Swains Lockhouse will join our award-winning Canal Quarters program as the seventh lockhouse that is available to guests for overnight stays.

Swains will be a multi-purpose Canal Quarters lockhouse, with part the building housing the Canal Quarters program, with accommodations for up to eight guests. When not in use as a Canal Quarters residence, it will be a designated space for the Canal Classrooms program. Students on educational trips to the Park will be able to participate in learning activities in the lockhouse.

Trust Board Chair Mike Mitchell and Park Superintendent Kevin Brandt

The Trust’s award-winning Canal Quarters program allows guests to experience life on the canal at different times in its history through overnight stays. There are currently six lockhouses in the program with Swains joining as the seventh upon its completion. Each lockhouse is restored to reflect a different period of time during the canal’s history. Volunteer quartermasters maintain and oversee the lockhouses, ensuring they are in good repair, clean, and ready for guests. You can view all of the lockhouses in the Canal Quarters program and book your stay here: https://www.canaltrust.org/programs/canal-quarters/.


Canal Classrooms, now in its sixth year, is the Park’s innovative education program. With financial support from the C&O Canal Trust, the program has served over 47,000 Pre-K to 12th grade students with its STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) lessons. This unique program gets kids out into the Park where they are taught by Park Rangers and the Canal Classrooms Corps, a group of retired teachers who have been trained in the Park’s education programs. Canal Classrooms seeks to inspire life-long learning through hands-on, curriculum-based educational programming. In addition to providing a unique learning experience, the program also aims to inspire a new generation of life-long park stewards. Learn more about Canal Classrooms here: https://www.canaltrust.org/support/our-funding-priorities/canal-classrooms/.

We want to thank our donors for their support of this project: France-Merrick Foundation, Paul and Gail Chod,
Knight Austin and Ann M. Kiplinger and the Kiplinger Foundation, Eastern National, Preservation Maryland,
Captain John Chapter of Questers International, and the C&O Canal Trust Board of Directors.
The Friends of the Historic Great Falls Tavern and the C&O Canal Association also donated money to the project.

Photos by Chris Stubbs Photography

You can follow the rehab at www.canaltrust.org/swains. We are still raising money to furnish Swains Lockhouse with unique period pieces. Visit this website to donate: www.youcaring.com/saveswains.