Photo by Francis Grant-Suttie
Each year, during the C&O Canal Trust’s Park After Dark gala, the Trust recognizes individuals for their deep commitment to the preservation of the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) with the William O. Douglas Stewardship Award. The award is the Trust’s highest honor and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated Justice Douglas’ spirit of stewardship.
This year, the Trust will honor Don and Liz Harrison in recognition of their leadership and many contributions to preserving the history of our local national park. As longtime supporters of the Park, Don and Liz have served on the boards of the Friends of the Historic Great Falls Tavern, the C&O Canal Association, and the C&O Canal Trust.
Don and Liz have demonstrated a life-long passion for the C&O Canal. For Don, his love of the canal goes back to the 1940s when he often went fishing with his dad as a young boy. This year, the Friends of the Historic Great Falls Tavern celebrates not only their 50th Anniversary, but the culmination of Don’s 21 years as President of the board. Liz will also vacate her position as Membership Chair, but they each assure that they will remain involved in the Park long after their tenure with the Friends ends. “Working with people who have the same focus and passion for the history and nature of the C&O Canal has been a huge positive,” Liz says.
As leaders of the Friends of the Historic Great Falls Tavern, Don and Liz have been directly involved in several Park initiatives. One of the more notable projects was the construction of the Charles F. Mercer. In addition to support from outside organizations and the National Park Service, the Friends of the Historic Great Falls Tavern raised over $500,000 to fund this initiative. In 2006, the Charles F. Mercer was launched at Great Falls. Don was recognized with both a regional and national George and Helen Hartzog Award for his efforts in helping to bring the Mercer to Great Falls.
Don and Liz have been involved with the C&O Canal Trust since its inception in 2007. Their activism extends past board membership; Don and Liz have not only provided strong support for Canal Community Days – the Trust’s public volunteer program – but also have participated in annual beautification events. Before Canal Community Days, Don and Liz organized clean-ups around the Historic Great Falls Tavern as far back as the 1990s.
Honoring Don and Liz with the 2023 William O. Douglas Stewardship Award is a privilege.Their continued leadership has significantly impacted the Park and will continue to inspire future stewardship of the C&O Canal NHP.
About the Friends of the Historic Great Falls Tavern
Founded in 1973 to advocate on behalf of preservation and educational projects in the Park, the Friends of the Historic Great Falls Tavern is a nonprofit, member-supported organization dedicated to preserving the Historic Great Falls Tavern and other historic structures located in the C&O Canal National Historical Park.
The Friends will celebrate its 50th Anniversary on Sunday, October 22, 2023. For more information about the event, please contact the Friends of the Historic Great Falls Tavern at [email protected].