To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the C&O Canal becoming a National Historical Park, we are featuring 50 Canal Stories throughout 2021. Each story will take a look at a person’s relationship with the C&O Canal. Whether an NPS ranger, a volunteer, or a visitor, everyone has a story to tell about the canal! If you want to share your story, submit it to us at the link here, email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory.
Lee Goodwin, Photographer and Supporter of the C&O Canal Trust
C&O Canal Trust: What is your history / relationship with the C&O Canal?
Lee: I started coming to the Canal more than forty years ago when we moved to a house just a few miles from Great Falls. Since then, I have regularly hiked the towpath and canoed in the canal. But my favorite activity at the Canal is photographing the beautiful landscape, and the wildlife that the Canal attracts. I have been a serious photographer since I was a child, and I feel fortunate to live so close to such a fantastic subject. Every time that I think I may have exhausted the photographic potential of the Canal, the weather will change, or the leaves will turn, and a whole new world of possibilities will open up. Over the years my Canal photographs have been exhibited at the Great Falls Tavern and in exhibits around Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, and sales of my photographs have raised thousands of dollars for the C&O Canal Trust at the Trust’s Park After Dark fundraiser.
C&O Canal Trust: What is your photography process?
Lee: Like many photographers my age, I learned my craft using a variety of small, medium and large format film cameras, and developing and printing black and white photographs in a traditional darkroom. However, several years ago I was drawn to the creative possibilities offered by digital photography. While I like the detail and the rich tones that I achieved with traditional processes, I appreciate the flexibility offered by the digital medium. The photographs included in this story were taken with a variety of classic and contemporary cameras. Currently, my day-to-day cameras are Nikon Z7 and Fuji X-T3 mirrorless digital cameras.
C&O Canal Trust: What is your personal favorite photo you have taken on the canal?
Lee: My favorite photo is “Lock 7 in Fog”, which was taken from the foot bridge over Lock 7, looking downstream into a foggy morning. The photo was taken with a Mamiya 7 medium format film camera, and over the years it has been one of my most popular photos. However, while I love the photo, it is also bittersweet for me, because it highlights the changes that have come to the Canal over time. This photo could not be taken today because the National Park Service has had to add braces to stabilize the lock walls.
C&O Canal Trust: What is your favorite thing to do on the canal?
Lee: In addition to my photography, I like to get out and hike on the towpath. Especially during the pandemic, the towpath has been a refuge where I can get out and enjoy the fresh air in relative solitude, without worrying so much about the rest of the world.
C&O Canal Trust: Do you have a favorite memory of the Park?
Lee: My favorite memory goes back to when my daughters were young. There used to be canoes for rent at Swains Lock, and I would take the girls out on the canal on weekend mornings (after I had cleared out any spiders lurking in the canoe). They enjoyed being out in nature, and they made a game out of counting the turtles that crawled out to sun themselves on logs and rocks along the canal.
C&O Canal Trust: What is your favorite place or section of the Park?
Lee: I love the two miles between Anglers and the Great Falls Tavern. It has a little bit of everything, and many of my favorite photos were taken in that stretch of the canal. The colors in the widewater section are special in the fall, and Great Falls is particularly spectacular when the river is full in the spring.
If you want to see more of my Canal photographs, you can find galleries for the Canal, the Anglers and Widewater section, and Great Falls park on my website: https://lee-goodwin.squarespace.com/