Written by Karen Gray- C&O Canal National Historical Park Historian
Charles Bezaleel Fisk (June 14, 1806–Jan. 11, 1866) is the only C&O Canal engineer who served throughout the construction period, being hired as a mere assistant engineer in 1828, rising to the position of chief engineer in April 1837, and leaving the canal in 1852. Fisk’s name is on the builders stone in the middle of the berm parapet of the Monocacy Aqueduct, the keystone of the upstream portal of the Paw Paw Tunnel, and the C&O completion obelisk beside the Wisconsin Avenue bridge over the canal in Georgetown on the NW side.
If you have traveled the entire length of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, you will know that the eastern terminus looks very different from the western. The Park spans four significantly different geological regions and changes 184 meters (or 605 feet) in elevation.
Welcoming close to 5 million visitors annually and stretching 184.5 miles long, the C&O Canal National Historical Park requires many boots on the ground to maintain its trails and towpath, operate programs, and assist visitors. The National Park Service would not be able to do this without the invaluable efforts of the many volunteers who contribute thousands of hours of service each year. Read More
The State of Maryland has announced that it would support the C&O Canal National Park Service’s towpath resurfacing project with a grant of $1.02 million from the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) for the third consecutive year. Read More
In September, the C&O Canal Trust said goodbye to long-time Director of Programs and Partnerships Becky Curtis, who has moved with her husband to Santa Barbara, CA. Becky joined the Trust in 2011 and has played an integral role in the organization’s growth over the past eight years.
On August 22nd and 28th, the C&O Canal Trust hosted two groups of girls from Community Bridges Inc. at Lockhouse 6. As part of the Trust’s Canal for All Initiative, the groups were given a brief lecture about the history of the canal from a Canal Classrooms teacher and spent the night in the lockhouse.
Over 7,000 K-12th grade students benefited over the 2018/2019 school year from the Park’s award-winning Canal Classrooms program. This curriculum-based program, supported in part by C&O Canal Trust donors, allowed young people from a wide variety of backgrounds to learn the unique history of the C&O Canal and to deepen their knowledge of the natural world in one of the most biologically diverse national parks in the United States.
Year One of the Park’s multi-year towpath resurfacing project is complete! Towpath users can now enjoy 23 miles of completely rehabilitated towpath, from Edwards Ferry (Mile 30.8) to Whites Ferry (Mile 35.5) in Montgomery County, and from Brunswick Family Campground (Mile 54) in Frederick County, to the Shepherdstown Bridge (Mile 72) in Washington County.
The Conservation Jobs Corps (CJC) is a new program built off the successful Maryland Conservation Corps (MCC). After years of seeing the benefits that MCC provides to young adults and the natural resources they protect and restore, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources expanded the program to include a younger age group. By partnering with community organizations, teens and young adults are able to work alongside natural resource staff to conserve Maryland’s natural landscapes.
August 8 will be a big day for the Park with the ribbon-cutting for the newly-restored Conococheague Aqueduct and the ground-breaking for the new Park headquarters in Williamsport, Maryland. Please join us to celebrate these two landmark occasions!
A big thank you to all of our Canal Towns partners who stepped up to fund a daily shuttle around the towpath breach at Culvert 82 (Mile 52.5). Following the flash flood in May 2018 took out that section of the towpath there was no safe way for hikers and bikers to go around the breach.
This year, the C&O Canal hosted 90 middle school students from Identity Inc. at Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center in celebration of Latino Conservation Week. This week was created in 2014 by the Hispanic Access Foundation to provide Latino youth and families with outdoor recreation opportunities near their homes and for Latino communities to demonstrate their commitment to conservation. Sherry Guillen, the Community Volunteer Ambassador for the Park, organized a day of hiking, biking, and learning activities. Guillen wanted kids to realize what resources are available to them and provide them with recreational opportunities that they might not have experienced before. There were many first-time experiences that day, including being in the Park, seeing Great Falls, and riding a bike.
C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt has announced his retirement from the National Park Service effective at the end of September 2019. Brandt helped to found the C&O Canal Trust 12 years ago as the official nonprofit group supporting the C&O Canal National Historical Park and has worked in partnership with us as we have grown our programmatic and philanthropic support to the park
The first 5-mile section of towpath resurfacing between Edwards Ferry and Whites Ferry is complete and work is now underway on the stretch between Brunswick and Harpers Ferry. The Park anticipates completing rehabilitation of the towpath all the way to Packhorse Ford near the Shepherdstown Bridge this year. Horseback riders are asked to stay off the newly-resurfaced sections for about three weeks to give the new stone dust surface time to harden.
Locks 3 & 4 Project (Georgetown)
Re-watering of the canal between Georgetown and Fletchers Cove is imminent! A small section of the canal will remain dry to facilitate replacement of the 31st Street bridge by the District of Columbia. Water will be channeled through the dry area via a pipe.
Locks 5-22 Project
Work is close to complete on the water management structures between Lock 5 (Fletchers Cove) to Lock 22 (Violettes Lock/Inlet Lock 2). The Park has re-watered the canal from Pennyfield to Violettes Lock, and will re-watering from Great Falls to Pennyfield once work is finished on Lock 19 in July, at which time the Charles F. Mercer boat operation will resume.
Construction on the rehabilitated aqueduct is complete. Contractors are currently waiting for the newly-poured concrete to cure before applying brown stain to the inner wall, built to look like wood to replicate the “fix” to the aqueduct following the collapse of the wall of the aqueduct in 1922. Following water testing, the aqueduct will be officially re-watered, hopefully in July. The ribbon-cutting for the project is expected to take place sometime in August.
Paw Paw Tunnel Rock Scaling Project
Rock scaling of the cliff above the towpath on the upriver end of the tunnel will begin as soon as the final engineering design is complete. Hikers and bikers will be able to continue to use the tunnel once the work begins, with flaggers controlling tunnel traffic when necessary.
You may have seen this on our Facebook page:
A baby barred owl, sitting in water.
Photographer- Sandy Rosenblatt
We received this adorable photo and the accompanying story through our Facebook photo contest and we are so happy that Sandy thought to share her experience with us!
Now that the contest is over and the winner is announced (this photo in fact! Congrats Sandy Rosenblatt!), we can share all the details!
Sandy was walking along the towpath by Lock 8 in Cabin John, MD and turned to take a dirt trail down to the river. Along the way, she came upon a woman asking for help and she was led to where this barred owlet was sitting in the water. The woman explained that she didn’t know how to help but knew that something needed to be done. Together, they gently took the owlet out of the water and began to warm it up in Sandy’s jacket. After calling animal control, they sat with the owl, keeping it warm and comforting it. The owlet was taken to Owl Moon Raptor Center where they confirmed that although it was uninjured, it was still too young to be able to fly and would likely not have survived the night in the chilly waters. They guessed that he fell into the water and washed downstream.
Go to our Facebook page to see a video with more adorable images and footage provided to us by Sandy Rosenblatt https://www.facebook.com/CanalFriends/videos/447900339104646/
Remember, don’t touch wildlife unless you have spoken with a licensed wildlife rehabilitation specialist. Many times, the baby animal is fine and the parents are close by or are returning soon! Fawns can be left for hours while their mothers go out and forage. Fledgling birds (those that have feathers), may be found out of their nest and look lost, but their parents are normally within earshot and are feeding them throughout the day. For more information about specific species, check out this website
free background music from https://www.fesliyanstudios.com
We had a great showing of support at our first Canal Pride Day of 2019 at the Paw Paw Campground, held Saturday, April 27. Forty volunteers tackled many tasks during the three hour event. The volunteers removed invasive plant species like garlic mustard and Japanese barberry, beautified the campground, and resurfaced the towpath inside the Paw Paw tunnel.
Vermicomposting, the process of using worms to break down food, has many benefits that can indirectly impact the C&O Canal National Historical Park and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Food waste and trash both bring challenges to the Park, contributing to climate change and impacting the native ecosystems we are trying to protect. If you are interested in learning how you can contribute to the health of the C&O Canal, improve your home gardens, and spare your wallet, join the C&O Canal Trust for this free educational workshop, scheduled for Saturday, June 8.