fbpx Skip to main content
All Posts By

Grace Kearns

May Event Wrap-Up

By Uncategorized

The C&O Canal Trust celebrated a very active May with various events focused on stewardship, education, and beautification throughout the entire length of the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP).

Canal Community Days events are among the most popular events held each spring in the C&O Canal NHP. So much goes into the success of these events, namely the dedication of our volunteers and community partners who join us in the Park, as well as the sponsors who help fund the necessary tools and materials to clean-up our national park.

In early May, despite the relentless rainy weather, 50 volunteers came out to Cushwa Basin for clean-up projects. In total, volunteers removed 1,425 pounds of garlic mustard and 200 pounds of trash; spread 1 cubic yard of paver base, 5 cubic yards of mulch, and 3 cubic yards of topsoil; planted 59 native plants; installed 22 landscaping timber around garden areas; and replaced 28 boards on 10 picnic tables.

Photo by Francis Grant-Suttie

We are so fortunate that we have such a robust canal community. In Williamsport, the Trust was joined by volunteers from the following community partners: CompleteCare of Hagerstown, Girls Who Hike Maryland, Hagerstown Home Depot, Maryland MINI Cooper Club, M&T Bank, Saint James School of Maryland, Sierra Nevada Corporation, Springfield Middle School’s LEO Club, United Bank, and Washington County GenNext.

As the nonprofit partner to the full 184.5 mile park, the C&O Canal Trust is committed to beautification throughout the entire length. On May 18, the Trust welcomed a mighty crew of six volunteers to the Spring Gap Campground in Allegany County for trash and invasive species removal projects. Volunteers removed 75 pounds of trash and 125 pounds of garlic mustard.

In addition to public volunteer events, the Trust also engaged community groups through our Canal For All program. Throughout the month, we welcomed the Arc of Washington County, our newest Canal For All partner to Williamsport. Canal For All is an outdoor education program that focuses on four pillars: Learn, Play, Work, Serve. This program aims to expose youth and families to the beauty and historical significance of the C&O Canal NHP. During the two different Canal For All events held in Williamsport, participants from the Arc of Washington County were invited to Lockhouse 44 for a brief tour of the historic lockhouse and interactive art projects that involved using natural materials found in the Park. The ARC of Washington County offers comprehensive day and residential services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. These services include skill-building activities, vocational training, community engagement opportunities and therapeutic support. The focus is on enhancing independence and fostering social connections to promote a meaningful and fulfilling life for each participant. To learn more about the Arc of Washington County, visit https://www.arcwc-md.org/.

ARC of Washington County Photo by Trust Staff

National Kids To Parks Day Photo by Trust Staff

As a part of the Canal For All program, we partnered with the National Park Service at Great Falls during National Kids to Parks Day. National Kids to Parks Day is a nationwide event promoted by the National Park Trust and is celebrate annually on the third Saturday of May. The goal of this national event is to connect kids and families with their local, state, and national parks. During the event, 90 youths and their families participated in various activities including craft projects, historically interpretive experiences, and a lock gate demonstration. At Lock 20, in front of the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center, Park Staff invited visitors to watch how lock tenders would operate a lock gate. During the heyday of the canal’s operation, a lock was used to manipulate the elevation of the water levels through a lock to allow a boat to pass through.

Thank you to everyone who participated in both Canal For All activities and public volunteer projects. We continue to work on opportunities to expand our canal community and focus efforts on growing a community of stewardship for our local national park!

Trust Leads Successful Spring Clean-Up Events in April

By News

Photo by Francis Grant-Suttie

Spring has sprung in the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP), and with it, the C&O Canal Trust – as the official nonprofit of the Park – has jumped straight into the busiest season of the year. Every spring and summer, as the days get longer and bluebells pop along the towpath seemingly overnight, the C&O Canal Trust begins outdoor programming in various areas of the Park. From Canal Community Days volunteer events to Canal For All service projects to hikes along the towpath, the C&O Canal Trust has had a very active April. Read More

Celebrating National Preservation Month

By Explore Your Park, History, News, Things to Do
May is National Preservation Month! This month-long celebration of unique and diverse histories and cultures began in 1973 as National Preservation Week. In 2005, National Preservation Week was extended to an entire month, and today, we celebrate the entire month of May. For the C&O Canal Trust, National Preservation Month gives us the opportunity to reflect on the importance of C&O Canal history and how we can continue to expand preservation efforts of historic structures and natural resources found in the Park.
Read More

Canal Community Story- Dallas Harrison

By Canal Community Story

Celebrate your love for the C&O Canal by sharing your personal story about the Park. 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, fill out the form below, email it to us at [email protected] or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory. We could use your story here on our website!

Tell Us Your Canal Story



Dallas Harrison- Canal Community Story

Read more Canal Community Stories here.

April is Native Plant Month

By Nature
Springtime on the C&O Canal brings new blooms just in time for National Native Plant Month in April. 2024 will mark the fourth year since the Senate Resolution was passed in 2021 and the first year of the House Resolution. Celebrate at home by planting native wildflowers, removing invasive species in your garden, and spread the word about the importance of native plants in our local ecosystems.

Did you know that the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) is one of the most biologically diverse parks, with one of the highest concentrations of rare, threatened and endangered plant species in the eastern United States? Help us preserve and protect the larger natural ecosystem of the C&O Canal. Get involved this April by giving a gift to the C&O Canal Trust or joining us this year for our public volunteer Canal Community Days events.
Read More

Canal Community Story- Brian Bell

By Canal Community Story

Celebrate your love for the C&O Canal by sharing your personal story about the Park. 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, fill out the form below, email it to us at [email protected] or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory. We could use your story here on our website!

Tell Us Your Canal Story



Brian Bell- Canal Community Story

Read more Canal Community Stories here.

The Trails Less Traveled

By Explore Your Park, Hike, History, Nature, Things to Do
The Billy Goat Trails in Potomac, MD, are some of the most popular trails within the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP). Each year, millions of visitors come to the Park seeking recreational opportunities. Have you considered exploring some of the Park’s trails less traveled? This not only allows you to explore new areas in the Park but also allows a reprieve for the more heavily accessed trails. Much like the flow of a river carves its path, so do footsteps on trails. So, while exploring more of your local national park, you can also help protect the longevity of our favorite trails.
Read More

Canal Community Story- Linda Lander

By Canal Community Story, Uncategorized

Celebrate your love for the C&O Canal by sharing your personal story about the Park. 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, fill out the form below, email it to us at [email protected] or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory. We could use your story here on our website!

Tell Us Your Canal Story



Linda Lander- Canal Community Story

Read more Canal Community Stories here.

Canal Community Story- Neil Wittmer

By Canal Community Story, Uncategorized

Celebrate your love for the C&O Canal by sharing your personal story about the Park. 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, fill out the form below, email it to us at [email protected] or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory. We could use your story here on our website!

Tell Us Your Canal Story

Photo Contest Winners of 2023

By Blog, Photography

In 2023, we received many wonderful photo contest entries. From iconic nature pictures to mesmerizing sunsets to beautiful day trips along the towpath, our canal enthusiasts share gorgeous highlights of the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

These are your favorite photos—our monthly photo contest winners! Check them out below and reminisce with us about 2023.

Click the picture to view full size.

Submit your photos of the Park to be considered for our monthly photo contest here.

Canal Community Story- Chris Craig

By Canal Community Story, Uncategorized

Celebrate your love for the C&O Canal by sharing your personal story about the Park. 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, fill out the form below, email it to us at [email protected] or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory. We could use your story here on our website!

Tell Us Your Canal Story

The Trust is Thankful for…

By Blog

Bat-tastic Fun Facts

By Blog, Nature

To celebrate Bats and their impact to our local ecosystems we have compiled some Bat-tastic fun facts to share with you!

1. Bats can eat more than 1,000 mosquitos per night.

Each adult bat can eat up to 1,000 insects per hour. That is over $53 million of free pest control they provide and with the agricultural benefit of being pesticide free.

2. The C&O Canal NHP is home to 10 species of bats.

There are 10 confirmed species of bats within the C&O Canal NHP. Eight of which are hibernating bats.

3. Bats are pollinators just like birds and bees.

Bats aid in pollination both by transferring pollen when drinking nectar from flowers but also through seed spreading.

4. Bats are the only mammal that can fly.

There are other mammals that have the ability to glide, or fall with style. Though bats are the only mammal that have the true ability to fly.

5. Not all bats use echolocation to find prey.

While many believe bats to have poor eyesight and rely on echolocation, bats’ vision is actually pretty comparable to human sight. As well not all bats can  echolocate, only 70% have the capability.

6. The species of bats within the areas of the C&O Canal are all insectivores.

Insectivore as the name suggests eat insects. While other species of bat can be carnivores or frugivores. Carnivorous bats eat meat like frogs, fish and birds. Frugivores eat fruit and other vegetation like fig, mango and agave.

7. The C&O Canal NHP is a top favorite for hibernating bats in the state of Maryland.

Eight different species of bat now call the Indigo Tunnel “home,” including the Maryland state endangered small-footed myotis and the federally endangered Indiana bat. The Indigo Tunnel, located in Allegany County, has been identified by Maryland Department of Natural Resources as one of the largest bat hibernacula in the state. To protect the hibernating bats and their home, the National Park Service has placed metal gates at the portals of the tunnel. (pictured below)

Photo by Maximillian Ruther

Photo by Nanette Nyce

Information for this post was sourced from the NPS and BatWeek.org

Top image by HitchHike via Pexels

Canal Community Story- Emma Horne

By Bike, Canal Community Story, Canal Story, Stories

Celebrate your love for the C&O Canal by sharing your personal story about the Park. 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, fill out the form below, email it to us at [email protected] or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory. We could use your story here on our website!

Tell Us Your Canal Story

Canal Community Story- Mike Felder

By Canal Community Story, Canal For All, Canal Story, Stories, Volunteer

Celebrate your love for the C&O Canal by sharing your personal story about the Park. 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, fill out the form below, email it to us at [email protected] or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory. We could use your story here on our website!

Tell Us Your Canal Story

Trust Celebrates Latino Conservation Week 2023

By Canal For All, News

Latino Conservation Week nature crafts. Photo by Community Bridges.

The Trust hosted a Latino Conservation Week celebration on July 22 at Great Falls. In partnership with Community Bridges and Girls Who Hike Virginia, the Canal for All event welcomed 25 youth and adults for a fun day of crafts, hiking, and plant species identification. Latino Conservation Week is an initiative of the Hispanic Access Foundation created to support the Latino community in enjoying the outdoors and participating in activities to protect natural resources. Over 220 events were held nationwide by numerous community, nonprofit, and faith-based organizations from July 15-23.  Read More

Canal Community Story- Chris Forth

By Bike, Canal Community Story, Canal Story, Stories

Celebrate your love for the C&O Canal by sharing your personal story about the Park. 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, fill out the form below, email it to us at [email protected] or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory. We could use your story here on our website!

Tell Us Your Canal Story

C&O Canal NHP Receives Maryland Historical Trust Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation and Sustainable Design

By News

Photo by C&O Canal NHP/NPS

The C&O Canal NHP was awarded the 2023 Excellence in Historic Preservation and Sustainable Design award from the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT). The award recognizes the park’s efforts to combat the impacts of flooding with long-term, sustainable solutions along a 0.9-mile stretch between McMahons Mill (mile 88) and Lock 42 (mile 89) in Williamsport, Maryland. The rehabilitated historical retaining wall and towpath ensure future generations will continue to learn and enjoy the C&O Canal in its historical context. Read More

Five Ways Birding at the C&O Canal Can Improve Your Health

By Blog, Nature, Photography

Nature has a profound impact on human well-being. Research shows that spending time in nature and connecting with your natural surroundings is associated with better body and brain health. Now researchers know that birds are a specific source of those health benefits.

Prothonotary Warbler by Robert A. Powell

Here are five ways that birding at the C&O Canal NHP Can Improve Your Health:

Carolina Wren Singing on its Pedestal by Eric Stuyck

1. Physical Fitness

Birding is not just about observing birds; it often involves exploration. To do that, you have to move from place to place physically. The C&O Canal stretches for 184.5 miles, offering ample hiking, biking, and leisurely walking opportunities. These activities promote cardiovascular health, improve endurance, and boost energy levels. Birders can enjoy the scenic beauty while moving their bodies, improving overall fitness and stamina.

 2. Stress Reduction and Mental Well-being

In our increasingly digitized world, finding moments of tranquility is essential for maintaining mental health. Birding at the C&O Canal offers a respite from the daily stresses and a chance to immerse oneself in the wonders of nature. Studies show that listening to birdsong has been found to help your mood, reducing feelings of anxiety, depression, and paranoia in healthy research participants. Nature and birdsong also reduce stress, lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels. Birding provides a mindful experience, allowing you to be fully present in the moment and forget about everyday life.

A Welcome Visitor by Vinod Thomas

3. Connection with Nature

Humans have an innate connection with the natural world, and birding provides an opportunity to foster and deepen that connection. The C&O Canal is a thriving ecosystem home to over 120 diverse bird species. By observing and identifying birds in their natural habitats, you’ll develop a greater appreciation for the intricacies of nature and the delicate balance of ecosystems. This connection with the environment can lead to a heightened sense of environmental stewardship and a desire to protect and conserve our natural heritage.

4. Cognitive Enhancement

Birding is both a physical and sensory experience and an intellectually stimulating one. It requires observation, concentration, and the ability to recognize patterns and identify different species. Regularly engaging in this activity can enhance cognitive skills such as attention to detail, memory recall, and pattern recognition. Additionally, birding fosters curiosity and a thirst for knowledge about the natural world, encouraging continuous learning and exploration.

Well, Hello There! by Christine Ley

5. Social Engagement

Birding can be a solitary activity, allowing for introspection and self-reflection. However, it also offers opportunities for social interaction and building connections with like-minded individuals. Joining birding groups or participating in bird walks with other birders at the C&O Canal can create a sense of community, providing a platform to share knowledge, exchange experiences, and forge new friendships. Social connections are vital for mental well-being, and birding offers a supportive network of individuals who share a common passion for nature.

 

Birding at the C&O Canal offers a delightful blend of nature, exercise, and mental stimulation, making it a perfect activity for individuals seeking physical and psychological well-being. From reducing stress and improving cardiovascular health to fostering a sense of wonder and environmental consciousness, the health benefits of birding at the C&O Canal are undeniable. So grab your binoculars, lace up your walking shoes, and embark on a birding adventure that will nourish your body.

Trust Partners with Smithsonian Associates for C&O Canal Tour

By History, Landmarks, News, Program

Smithsonian Associates group visits Great Falls in the C&O Canal NHP. Photo by Francis Grant-Suttie

The C&O Canal Trust partnered with Smithsonian Associates to provide a day-long tour of the C&O Canal National Historical Park on June 2. Thirty-six participants braved the heat to explore several parts of the Park, including Great Falls and Rileys Lock. The tour included a guided tour of Lockhouse 22 at Pennyfield. Lockhouse 22 is one of seven rehabilitated lockhouses in the Canal Quarters program, which gives visitors the opportunity to book up to three consecutive nights in a historic lockhouse. Read More

Canal Community Story- Ed Zahniser

By Canal Community Story, Uncategorized

Celebrate your love for the C&O Canal by sharing your personal story about the Park. 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, fill out the form below, email it to us at [email protected] or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory. We could use your story here on our website!

Canal Community Story: Ed Zahniser

Ed Zahniser- Canal Story

Explore the C&O Canal’s TRACK Trails

By Explore Your Park, Nature, Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Uncategorized

What is TRACK Trails?

TRACK Trails is an award-winning program by Kids in Parks that offers family-friendly outdoor adventures. By following the self-guided brochures and signs, your visit to the park becomes a fun and educational adventure. As you track your progress, you become eligible for prizes.

How does it work?

TRACK Trail in Hancock by Trust Staff

Start by going to the Kids in Parks TRACK Trail website and search your area on the map to find an adventure near you. Once you find a location, you can browse the adventures on the map under Find An Adventure. Sometimes TRACK Trail brochures are located at the park or attached to a TRACK Trail sign, but you can always access them on the Kids in Parks website.

TRACK Trail adventures exist at three locations in the C&O Canal National Historical Park—Brunswick, Williamsport, and Hancock. For example, in Williamsport there are four different adventures: Conococheague Aqueduct Scavenger Hunt, Lock 44 Scavenger Hunt, Nature’s Hide & Seek, and Need for Trees. Many of the nature-based adventures are general enough they could be used throughout the Park.

After completing tasks, you can track them on your device to receive TRACKer gear. Different TRACK Trail adventures have different gear awarded, such as stickers and cards for hiking trails, disks for the disk golf courses, or bike bells and first aid kits for the bike trails, and more. The more adventures you complete, the cooler gear you get. You can see a full list of gear rewards here!

How did Kids in Parks and TRACK Trails come about?

Photo by Trust Staff

Kids in Parks began in 2009 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, developed by the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. As the program demonstrated easy implementation and effectiveness in getting children outdoors, Kids in Parks rapidly expanded to other parks and public lands across the country. Achievements of the program include endorsements by the American Academy of Pediatrics, awarded as a Let’s Move! Champion of Change by the White House, and acknowledgement for Outstanding Public Engagement by the Public Lands Alliance.

President and CEO Robin Zanotti Reflects on Career and Retirement

By Uncategorized

 

Robin Zanotti Leading the Mules by Trust Staff

After nearly eight years leading the C&O Canal Trust and a 40-year career in fundraising and nonprofit executive leadership, President and CEO Robin Zanotti is retiring on March 31, 2023.  We asked Robin to reflect on her time at the Trust, and share her plans for the next chapter of her life.

What brought you to the C&O Canal Trust?
My career has been spent exclusively in service to nonprofits. I have received the most joy from my work when I engaged with volunteers and donors with whom I shared a passion for the mission of the organization. When I was asked to consider this position, it didn’t take me long to realize how gratifying it could be. I already loved the park and could easily commit to using my experience to maximize support for it.

Additionally, it is a rare opportunity for the lead fundraiser, my usual role, to become the president and CEO. The Trust’s board of directors was looking to stabilize the organization’s finances, and it was clear that my fundraising skills could be of benefit to the Trust. It sounded like a great opportunity for me.

What has been your greatest challenge at the Trust?
When I became president at the Trust, it was during a period of transition. The organization needed a steady hand, but at the same time, fundraising had to be a top priority. We had a small but strong, dedicated staff who were eager to move forward as a team and willingly embraced me as their leader. Our board was just as dedicated and ready to put its energy into moving the Trust forward. It took some time to get everything aligned for forward momentum, and those early months were a bit unnerving.

What has been your greatest achievement at the Trust?
I can point to a number of programs and projects that I’m extremely proud of. I was grateful to work with very talented staff and generous donors to help make them possible. In a more macro sense, the steady growth of the organization, and what that has meant to the support of the C&O Canal, would have to be my greatest achievement, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. We still managed to double in size during the last eight years, which means more eager and motivated staff are working diligently each day to achieve our mission to preserve and protect the park. Having doubled our budget means that charitable support has doubled, in effect putting to work the generous gifts of a growing number of donors, many of whom have deepened their commitment. For a woman with a fundraising career and commitment to mission, it doesn’t get any better than that!

Is there anything you’d do differently?
Gosh, for what was essentially a fledgling organization at the time I arrived, there were plenty of things I could have done differently. There weren’t enough of us to go around to do all that was needed. I prioritized mission, investing in and supporting staff, and engaging donors and volunteers in as many ways as I could. I wouldn’t change any of that. 

What will you miss the most?
People. Always the people. Being with like-minded park lovers is a reward unto itself. 

While I’ll miss the daily commitment to supporting the park, I certainly won’t miss the park. I intend to take with me the deeper appreciation I developed as a result of these eight years and enjoy the park with the satisfaction of knowing I had a role in its preservation.

Swains Lockhouse by Josh Bowers

Do you have a favorite spot or favorite memory in the Park?
My lockhouse visits were special experiences. I especially liked the early morning walks in what felt to me like my very own piece of the park. Staying at Swains Lockhouse might be one of my favorite memories. My husband and I were the first to stay overnight after we helped rehabilitate it and added it to the Canal Quarters program. We were ‘kicking the tires’ and learning what our guests would experience to be sure it was really ready. I felt so much pride for the Swain family, the National Park Service, and generations of visitors – past, present, and future. Together, we preserved a very special part of the history of the C&O Canal. I definitely had a moment.

What do you hope for the future of the Trust?
I haven’t yet mentioned the Trust’s relationship with the National Park Service. I wish for a long, healthy partnership based on mutual trust and earnest goodwill. It has been with this approach that the Trust has flourished and been able to enhance its support of the Park. There is so much more to do, and it will all be within the construct of this mutually supportive relationship.

What’s next for you in retirement?
I’ve purposefully decided to craft my retirement years as they present themselves, at least initially. I have some vague notions about travel and more time spent with family. There are many books to be read and parks to be explored. I plan to take some time to enjoy the freedom while sketching out a fulfilling plan.

Park After Dark 2022 by Turner Photography Studio

Anything else you’d like to share?
I cannot imagine a better way to cap off my career than with the work I’ve done here at the C&O Canal Trust. The board of directors graced me with their support, provided me with the latitude to run the organization, and were my soulmates in crafting a strategy for developing the organization into a high-performing partner for the National Park Service. I’ve worked with two amazing park superintendents who were also willing partners. It’s with a fair amount of satisfaction that I leave this work and these important relationships to my successor. All best wishes to Lauren Riviello and everyone at the Trust and the National Park Service. See you on the towpath!

 

Annual Artwork Contest Seeks Logo for 2024 Canal Community Days

By Canal Community Days, News

The C&O Canal Trust is conducting its annual t-shirt artwork contest to find a logo representing our 2024 Canal Community Days events. Artists are invited to create and submit artwork celebrating these annual volunteer events, bringing community members together to beautify the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP).  The winning design will be printed on our Canal Community Days t-shirts and worn by volunteers as they work along the C&O Canal throughout the spring and summer. Read More