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C&O Canal National Historical Park Celebrates 50 Years in January

Snowy Prints on the Towpath at Big Pool Mile Marker 111 by Lesley Pearl

January 8, 2021 will mark the 50th anniversary of President Richard Nixon signing the enabling legislation that created the C&O Canal National Historical Park. This achievement marked the culmination of years of effort from people who loved the C&O Canal to preserve and protect it in perpetuity. 

The C&O Canal community is commemorating the anniversary throughout 2021, although, thanks to the pandemic, the celebration now looks much different than it did when we began planning over a year ago. Recognizing the important role the Park plays as an economic driver in Maryland, the state’s tourism offices will be implementing a marketing and media relations campaign throughout the anniversary year and beyond. The Canal will be featured on the covers of Maryland’s travel guides and in regional publications, promoting the wealth of activities there are to experience both along the C&O Canal and in the four counties, 10 Canal Towns, and three Heritage Areas the towpath touches.


With the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, visitation increased at the C&O Canal as people turned to outdoor recreation as a safe activity that allowed for social distancing. Road trips also became popular, and traffic on the C&O Canal Scenic Byway increased as families explored the canal by foot, bike, or car. You can learn more about itineraries we have created for your canal explorations on page 5.

Watch www.CanalTrust.org/50th for information on activities, events, and other ways you can celebrate, and while you are there, be sure to contribute to our Next 50 Years Campaign to ensure future generations experience a beautiful and welcoming C&O Canal National Historical Park.