Role of the CCC in Restoring the Canal

Virtually disregarded for 15 years after the 1924 flood, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal and its towpath needed some friends. It found hundreds of them in the form of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

Still trying to recover from the Great Depression, the U.S. government provided jobs for many young men who were struggling to support their families. Living in dedicated, on-site CCC camps, these workers took on a variety of large-scale projects, many of them in national parks. One such project was the restoration of 22 miles of the lower C&O Canal.

Along the Canal, CCC workers removed overgrowth, rocks and debris. They repaired breaches in the Canal caused by flooding. They restored lift locks. And they resurfaced the towpath. For this, the workers were paid $30 a month, $25 of which was sent home to their families.

The CCC did such a good job of restoring the lower section of the Canal to working order that there was talk of re-watering the whole Canal. Before the conversation could continue, however, World War II and another major flood in 1942 put an end to it.