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Tymber Compher

Canal Story #9: Michael Mitchell

By Canal Story

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 info@canaltrust.org or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory.

Tell Us Your Canal Story

Michael Mitchell, Former Board Chair of the C&O Canal Trust

C&O Canal Trust: What is your history with the C&O Canal?
Mike Mitchell: I first visited the C&O Canal Park in 1975 when I moved to the Washington area for graduate school, running and cycling on the towpath when I had time away from studies.  I visited the Park with greater frequency beginning in 1992 when I became an adult leader in the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs in the River Falls neighborhood in Potomac, with dozens of camping, cycling, and hiking events in the Park with the Scouts over the years.  In 1999 I began long distance cycling trips with friends on the towpath, and in the ensuing years have cycled on the towpath from Cumberland to DC five times and from Pittsburgh to DC twice.  In 2012 I was invited to join the Board of the C&O Canal Trust and for several years chaired the Program Committee of the Trust.  From 2014 through 2018 I chaired the Board of Directors of the Trust.  I am an avid photographer and six of my ten exhibits to date have featured images from the Park.  The Park continues to be my “go to” place for time in nature, peace and reflection, and I am in the Park on average three times a week.

C&O Canal Trust: During your time volunteering with the Trust, what is your favorite project you have been a part of?
Mike Mitchell: While it was not a “project” per se, my four years as Board Chairman of the Canal Trust provided me my fondest memories and sense of accomplishment in regard to the Park.  That experience afforded me a great opportunity to spend extensive time in the Park, attain a familiarity with the entire 184.5 miles of the Park, and to have a sense of legacy impact on my community adjacent to the Park as well as the entire span of the Park.  It also gave me the opportunity to develop a range of new friendships with fellow Board members, the incredibly dedicated Canal Trust staff, and the National Park Service leadership and staff of the C&O.  If I were to pick one favorite specific project on which I was a participant it would be the acquisition and installation of the new Marsden Bridge seen in the photography below.

C&O Canal Trust: Do you have a favorite canal memory?
Mike Mitchell: It would be impossible to select a single favorite canal memory.  I have a kaleidoscope of fond memories including cycling the length of the towpath multiple times with the Four Amigo friends from my days in the aerospace industry; hiking the entire length of the Park last September with a neighbor and current Canal Trust Board member in support of the Canal Trust mission; endless hours of photography in the Park in all seasons and all times of day; walks in the Park with fellow Canal Trust Board members; hiking, cycling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing in the Park; staying on overnights in the Canal Quarters lock houses with friends and family; and the sense of mission and achievement in working with the Canal Trust Board and staff, and the National Park Service staff in support of the Park.

C&O Canal Trust: What is your favorite spot on the canal?
Mike Mitchell: My favorite spot on the canal is wherever I happen to be on the canal at that moment.  Then entire 184.5 miles of the Park is a celebration of nature.

C&O Canal Trust: What does the canal mean to you?
Mike Mitchell: I like to tell people that I have three sanctuaries in my life, Bethesda United Methodist Church, Washington Nationals Park, and the C&O Canal National Historical Park.  BUMC services are on YouTube and no fans in Nats Stadium now because of the pandemic, leaving the C&O Canal Park an ever more important place to spend time with friends, enjoy nature, to reflect and to recharge.  The C&O Canal Park is a place for adventure and discovery, but it also is a deeply spiritual place for me.    

Meet Béla Demeter, Canal Steward

By Blog, Content, Volunteer

I’ve been a Canal Steward since July 2018. I’ve hiked the Canal and the Billy Goat Trail for nearly 50 years (when I came to Washington). I often had a plastic bag with me and rarely came out without some bottles and trash. It felt good to do my small part in cleaning up our shared landscape, especially when it involved so little effort. Signing on to the Canal Steward Program seemed like the next logical step.

In my 35 years as reptile keeper and Biologist at the National Zoo, I was the liaison between the department and our keeper aides and interpretive volunteers. I came to appreciate how incredibly important these folks were to the enhanced functioning of our operation. We simply couldn’t have reached out to the public as efficiently without their help. Upon retirement, I felt it was time to pay back some of that energy (my initial volunteer gig was at the National Gallery of Art as a docent, leading tours of the collection). As essential as government agencies are to the operation of parks and museums, staff are often limited by budgets and resources. Tapping into the immense pool of retirees and other people with time on their hands is an excellent way to enhance the benefits that these institutions offer. I also feel that it’s beneficial in so many ways when the public takes a proprietary interest in these areas.  

I think recruiting more volunteers (especially young ones) is money well spent. It always makes my day when young people comment on what I’m doing and remark that they have either done that themselves or are now inspired to do so in the future. I can spend every day on the canal, but it takes everybody pitching in to keep it pristine.

It’s difficult to pick a favorite spot in the Park — sorta like choosing your favorite child. Two spots on Billy Goat B come to mind, however. From an artistic point of view, there is a fallen tree about a quarter mile from the West trailhead. I call it the “Ent” (from Lord of the Rings). It’s incredibly expressive, and I always stop to gaze at it. It changes with moisture and is even more dramatic after a rain.

My other favorite area is about a half mile from the West trailhead. I call it “Skink Rock” due the numerous Five-lined Skinks that make this spot their refuge. It’s fun to find the little guys hiding in the crevices in the summer. This area also has a fair population of Pine Swifts as well as Black Racers on the upper portion of the trail.

Join Béla in becoming a Canal Steward this year! Sign up here.

Canal Story #8: Kari Cannistraro

By Canal Story

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 info@canaltrust.org or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory.

Tell Us Your Canal Story

Kari Cannistraro, Avid Canal Bike Rider & Vlogger

C&O Canal Trust: Tell us your canal story!

Kari: During the quarantine, I longed for some release. I craved the freedom to discover something new, explore hidden treasures, connect with nature, and engage in some fun exercise. Bike riding on the C&O Canal Towpath was the answer. I started planning each bike adventure as a tour with points of interest. Each tour would be about 20 miles to complete. As a videographer, I included my GoPro camera on these excursions. Thus began my new adventure creating videos to inspire more people to get out there and ride the C&O Canal Towpath Trail. Over time the bike touring made a profound change in my life.

Knowing that there were once Indians habituating right in this area sharpens my experience. I ride along the Potomac River on one side and the canal on the other side. I envision the mules pulling the boats through along the waterway and stopping at the lock gates to pass through the lock. I yell “Heeeey, Lock!” That is what the canal boater would yell to the lock keeper to open up the gates so as to pass through. As I ride along, I watch the trees sway in the wind with leaves splashing on the trail, feeling a kinship with the tranquil and of the stirring of nature drawing me in. I often pause off the bike trail and listen to the sounds of nature around me. I continue to ride along the Potomac River with the wind blowing through my hair just being in the moment. I let my mind wander and breathe in the pure air. I am in a gothic cathedral of trees. It’s a drug. I pass a historic marker that has a description of a Civil War battle crossing and a desperate escape. It really happened right here! I have to stop and take a closer look. Filming while rolling along and stopping at points of interest has intensified my experiences and my feelings of well-being. There is gold in “them thar hills”…yes…gold mines. I fight the rough hilly terrain feeling the thrill of danger to conquer it. I pass one of the most picturesque railroad depots and then quarry ruins that look like Roman ruins, but this is Maryland. On another trip, I push my bike off the path towards an 18th-century old village. Even though only stonewall ruins remain, it gives me a sense of adventure and travel. I feel as if I am on vacation. I need more! My goal is to continue to film my bike adventures and post them on YouTube and cover all of the 184.5 miles of the C&O Canal Towpath. I am biking the trail in segments and have already posted many videos. Each video has a travel destination to stop, enjoy and learn about the history surrounding the C&O Canal Towpath. There are hidden gems out there that enhance the biking experience. Besides various historic ruins, waterfalls, charming towns, gold mines, horse farms, ghosts, eagles, there is the ever-pervasive nature and wildlife. So many stories of interest are nestled nearby and often hidden along the trail. The C&O Canal Towpath is a wonder waiting to be discovered.

As I say at the end of all my videos…. “Hope to see you riding!”

Below are some of the C&O Towpath videos shot during the bike rides.
1.Lock 18 to Lock 23- Great Falls to Seneca Mill and Quarry Ruins
2.Cabin John, Maryland to Georgetown, DC Lock 10 to Lock 5
3.Point of Rocks, MD to Harpers Ferry, WVA Lock 29 to Lock 33
4.Harpers Ferry, WVA to Shepherdstown, WVA Lock 33 to Lock 38

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3og6FPSbicKUUhhnJmgLGw

Canal Story #7: Bruce Rosenblum

By Canal Story

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 info@canaltrust.org or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory.

Tell Us Your Canal Story

Bruce Rosenblum, Frequent Canal Visitor

C&O  Canal Trust: Tell us your C&O Canal story!
Bruce: During the summer of 2020, I cleared my head and some got exercise by going for a brisk walk along the canal most mornings, as early as possible (usually starting by 6 a.m.) While I have travelled the canal by bike and foot for many years, being there regularly and at a time when there was not too much other “human activity,” I saw many things I had not noticed before–river otters building a den and traversing the space between canal and river; a great blue heron catching a frog for “breakfast”; two owls singing a “duet”. I wrote a song for my grandson (age 5) about the canal, and on a late August trip to visit him (my only sojourn away from the house in the last 10 months) had a chance to sing it with him and add a verse he wrote about his experiences with nature walking on Cape Cod. A version of the song is posted to You Tube, complete with photographic “illustrations” from some of my canal walks and you can view it here.

C&O Canal Trust: What is your relationship with the C&O Canal?
Bruce: I have visited the canal for many years, either as part of my bike routes or on foot.  Walking, biking and watching the views/wildlife are my favorite things to do there.  

 C&O Canal Trust: Do you have a favorite canal memory?
Bruce: I have many fond memories of being on the canal, but it has been extra special during the last 10 months to be able to access this natural beauty so close to home when travel is difficult to impossible.

C&O Canal Trust: What is your favorite spot on the canal?
Bruce: My walks center on the segment between Swains Lock and Seneca Lock (Swains Lock is 4-5 miles from my house), which has beautiful views and a fair amount of wildlife.  I have been on the path from the start in Georgetown to Edwards Ferry, and there are a lot of beautiful and varied spots along that (circa 30 mile?) section–but that also means I haven’t even seen most of the canal yet!

Canal Story #6: Daofeng and Angela He

By Canal Story

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 info@canaltrust.org or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory.

Tell Us Your Canal Story

Daofeng and Angela He, C&O Canal Trust Donors

Daofeng and Angela He, through their Daofeng and Angela Foundation, have sponsored 40 benches along the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s towpath, providing $185,000 to the C&O Canal Trust for park maintenance and beautification projects.

C&O Canal Trust: What is your relationship with the C&O Canal?

Daofeng & Angela: We live very close to the Park and always use the towpath and trails to walk and ride bikes. We feel we need to feed back into nature and national parks. People take more from nature then we feed back into it. That is the biggest challenge we as humans have to face. 

C&O Canal Trust: Why did you decide to sponsor benches along the C&O Canal towpath?

Angela: For me, nature is very important. People need to take care of nature. At Great Falls, we saw the boat and the people enjoying the Park. Every Friday, I went to the Park to walk along the Billy Goat Trail. I would sit on a rock, and it was very peaceful. People use the Park to leave behind their stressful lives and feel peaceful. In nature, everything is peaceful. For this reason, nature and the environment is very important to everyone. It is the small things that are important. In the community and in our families, we take care of the small things and this helps us to take care of the big things.

Daofeng: Before I retired, I was involved in establishing a nonprofit in China. So I know about the nonprofit industry. Here in the U.S. I wanted to sponsor a local nonprofit that worked at the grassroots level. I wanted to make the funds from my foundation to flow to where it is really needed. A bench is a symbol of how we can reconstruct the relationship between humans and nature. It is important that the benches are made of reconstructed materials. Nothing is destroyed to manufacture them. We think of each bench and its location as a microclimate in the Park.

C&O Canal Trust: What is your favorite spot on the canal?

Daofeng & Angela: We enjoy hiking the towpath between Bethesda and Great Falls.

A Day in Williamsport, Maryland – An Itinerary

By Blog, Explore Your Canal, Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities

Park: You can get to the towpath from the town by bike or car when you head west on W. Potomac Street until you reach the Cushwa Basin parking lot. The towpath is located approximately 300 ft north west through the RailRoad Lift Bridge.    

River access: There are two entry points for boats along the Potomac River at River Bottom Park. The park can be accessed by bike or on foot from the towpath 0.9-miles. west of Lockhouse 44. For car access to the boat ramp, make a right onto N. Commerce St from W. Potomac St heading east out of the Cushwa Basin parking lot. Then make a right onto W. Salisbury Street to cross the Bollman Bridge. Follow this path down 0.1-miles to reach the boat access point. The second access point is located 600 ft to the right of the bridge overpass.

Stay: Depending on your preference, Williamsport offers a variety of lodging options. If you are interested in staying close to the towpath Bay farms, Bed and Breakfast is two blocks down W. Salisbury Street, totaling 0.5- mi. It offers an ideal stop for overnight travelers, hikers, or cyclists. Red Roof Inn is located a short distance, 1.1-mi from the towpath on E. Potomac Street, and provides affordable economy lodging choices. Another overnight stay option is Elmwood Farm Bed and Breakfast, which showcases cozy rooms and historic barn settings. Two miles up the towpath heading north is Jordan Junction Campground. An excellent place for hikers and bikers on the move; portable water, toilets, picnic tables, and grills are available for use. For extensive overnight camping Safari Campground and Yogi Bears, Jellystone Park Resort reside at the cross-section of Kendle and Lappans Rd. Cabin rentals, tent sites, and water amenities are available at the camp resort. 

Cushwa Basin by Mark Crilley

Williamsport Aqueduct by John Gensor

Don’t Miss: The RailRoad Lift Bridge & Conococheague Aqueduct.

The Conococheague Aqueduct is an exciting access point for canal boat riders interested in the full canal experience. Since the permanent lifting of the RailRoad Lift Bridge in 2016, pedestrians have been given access to cross the canal through the bridge. The restoration allowed for the expansion of the canal boat tour. The launch boat ride now explores the full length, from the Cushwa Basin to Lockhouse 44, with an informative historical tour of the canal. The tour also includes the newly restored Conococheague Aqueduct, which allows for boat operations to continue. This area is the, “Only place in North America where visitors can view, an operational lift lock, railroad lift bridge, lockhouse, turning basin and warehouse. (NPS, Conococheague Aqueduct 2020)”  

Eat: Dessert Rose Cafe 

Desert Rose Cafe is located a convenient two blocks from the towpath, heading east on W. Potomac for 0.3 miles. The restaurant provides a relaxed space for those eating in and hikers, bikers, and pedestrians on the go. Bike racks, outdoor seating, and amenities for trail users are available, such as bike pumps, inner tubes, first aid, and more. 

Chill: Byron Memorial Park

Byron Memorial Park is a brisk 0.8 miles from the towpath and leads into the center of town. This is a multiuse park that is located at the interaction of E Potomac St and Park Rd. Byron Memorial Park is known for its eventful celebrations encompassing car shows, concerts, and elaborate holiday celebrations such as Christmas lights and Fourth of July displays. Besides festivals, the park offers different facility rentals for those interested in using the Williamsport Community Building, pavilions, bandstand, gazebo rentals, and other rentals advertised on the Williamsport Town website.   

If you have time: Visit Lockhouse 44 

Located at mile marker 99.1 on the towpath, Lockhouse 44 stands along the canal. It was built in 1834 out of white and gray limestone; it now serves as a historical exhibit for requested tours. It is one of few surviving Lockhouse’s that initially maintained and operated the boat-locking system along the canal. 

Come back for: Springfield Farm

Springfield Farm is perfect for history fanatics interested in following the rich history of Williamsport. The Springfield farm is one of the largest barns in Maryland built by Otho Holland Williamsport himself in 1755. The estate contains a museum, two four bays, and a participant of the Living Legacy Project, an initiative dedicated to the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War and the fallen soldiers. Although the property is commemorated for its historical contributions, it is also available for reception, community events, fundraisers, banquets, and more. Questions can be directed to their email springfeildbarnweddings@gmail.com or phone number listed on the website.  

Events: Fourth of July Fireworks Display 

If fun and exciting celebrations are what you are looking for, join Williamsport in celebrating Independence day at Byron Memorial Park. It is a free venue that provides live local music performances, vendors, and a grand firework display.  

Along the Towpath in Williamsport by Ed Crawford

A Day in Poolesville, Maryland – An Itinerary

By Blog, Explore Your Canal, Planning Your Visit, Things to Do

Parking access: Poolesville is located about five miles from the C&O Canal National Historical Park. To get to the Park from the Old Town Bank Museum located on Fisher Avenue in Poolesville, head west on Fisher Avenue and make a left onto W. Willard Rd. Make a right onto Westerly Road in approximately 1.4 miles. You will then make a left onto Edwards Ferry’s Rd and continue until the end of the road. There is a small parking lot available for day and overnight parking located here. 

River access: Edward’s Ferry boat ramp access is located at the end of Edward’s Ferry Road, past Lockhouse 25. This is a historic Civil War site used by the Union Army for crossing the Potomac River. This area is known for smallmouth bass fishing.

Where to stay: Poolesville is home to Lockhouse 25. A blast from the past, this rustic lockhouse can be reserved through the Canal Quarters program. This historic structure was built in the 1830s and sits at mile marker 30.9 on the towpath. It is available for overnight stays by up to eight guests. 3.7 miles upstream from the towpath, is Turtle Run hiker/biker campsite. It includes a water pump, a portable toilet, and a picnic table & grill.

Sunflower Field located at Sycamore Landing Road (mile marker 27), Poolesville, Maryland. by Nicholas Clements

Civil War Reenactment at Lockhouse 25 by Jan Branscome

Don’t miss: The John Poole House

Originally built in 1793 as a log store, the John Poole House is the oldest building in Poolesville. It served as Poolesville’s first Post Office in the early nineteenth century and is now the Historic Medley District office. This historic building is located behind The Old Bank/ Old City Hall of Poolesville.

Where to eat: Poolesville Athletic Club & Cafe 107

Café 107 is located in the Poolesville Athletic Club and offers a wide selection of both hot and cold drinks, such as blended coffee drinks, smoothies, and food such as grilled chicken wraps, pizza, and even tasty breakfast dishes, which are available all day. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Where to chill: Whalen Commons

Whalen Commons, located in the town center, is a place to meet and greet new and old friends alike. Enjoy outdoor concerts, farmer’s markets, and outdoor movie nights in the open grassy area, . You will also find restrooms, a bandshell and a walking trail here.

If you have time: White’s Ferry

White’s Ferry is the last one hundred cable ferries that used to operate on the Potomac River. Every day, cars, bikes, and pedestrians use the ferry to cross the river between Maryland and the Leesburg, Virginia area. It is located at 24801 Whitess Ferry Rd, Dickerson, MD 20842.

Come back for: Sugarloaf Mountain overlook

This registered National Landmark has a breathtaking view and is accessible for bikers and hikers on the towpath. This is about a 10– mile bike ride from or 15mins by car from White’s Ferry. from Poolesville and 17 mins from Whites Ferry. The park is open 8 a.m to sunset. Gates close one hour before sunset.

Events: Poolesville Day Saturday, September 26, 2020

This is a special day to commemorate Poolesville’s 25 years of community. This is a free day event hosted by the Poolesville Day Committee. That will feature a town parade including a marching band, 5K charity run, arts and crafts, vendors, children’s entertainment, and more. This exciting event is capped off with live music and car shows.

Bassett’s Public Art Mural by Trust Staff


A Day In Brunswick, Maryland – An Itinerary

By Blog, Explore Your Canal, Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities

Park: You can get to the towpath from town by a car when you head west on Potomac Street. Make a right onto S. Maple Ave. Head south past the Brunswick Train Station and over the tracks where a small dirt parking lot resides next to the towpath.    

River access: There are two points of access for boats along the Potomac River. Larger boats can access the river by making a right through the railroad parking lot. Follow this to reach the river access point. The second access point is located at Brunswick Family Campground. Make a left onto the towpath from S. Maple Ave. Follow the towpath for 0.4 miles to arrive at the campground and access point. 

Stay: Visitors can find a cozy room at the Travel Lodge or the Holiday Inn. They offer rooms for leisure, adventures, and business space. 0.6 miles on the towpath is the Brunswick Family Campground. This campsite includes tent sites, dumping stations, full hook-up sites, limited wifi, and other amenities. 

 Brunswick, C&O Canal Park Sign by Paulie Ward

Towpath in Brunswick, MD by Jerry Knight

Don’t Miss: The Visitor Center & Brunswick Heritage Museum 

The Heritage Museum doubles as two museums in one, while also sharing a building with the Brunswick Visitor Center. The second floor tells of how the town was shaped by the railroad, and the third floor depicts a 1700 square HO scale model of the B&O Metropolitan Subdivision. In 1890, the Baltimore &Ohio Railroad came to Brunswick, increasing travel to and from Brunswick. Remains of the railroad yard are still visible to this day and were known as the longest railroad yard owned by a single company, totaling 5 miles of the rail yard. 

Eat: Beans & the Belfry

Beans & the Belfry is a cozy, hiker, biker, friends, and family cafe located just .4 miles from the towpath on W. Potomac St. They offer indoor and outdoor seating with complimentary bike racks. Beans & Belfry has what you need to stay refreshed. They serve hot dishes, sweet desserts, refreshing snacks, all-day breakfast, and more. Live entertainment can be found Friday and Saturday from 7-9:30 pm, and live Jazz brunch on Sunday at 11 am-2 pm.

Chill: The City Park Building & Parks 

The City Park Building is located at 655 East Potomac Street, which is open for public access and private rentals. Amenities include a small kitchen, tables chairs, and restrooms. Other recreational spaces include the Corner Park located on Maple Ave and W. Potomac St., three minutes from the towpath, and a Brunswick dog park located .6 miles from the towpath on E. Potomac St. 

If you have time: Visit Remains of Lock 30 or the Rivers Edge Trials

Located at mile marker 55 on the towpath, the red Seneca sandstone and Patapsco granite rubble of the Lockhouse are still visible today. Next to the remains of Lock 30, a bridge carries Route 17 over the Potomac, replacing previous ferries and a wooden bridge that burned down by the Confederacy early in the Civil War. The Rivers Edge Trails are 2.9 miles from the towpath located on 13th Avenue and great for bikers looking for intermediate trails. The path consists of a single rolling track six miles in length with four route options. Natural cuts, berms, and switchbacks are an added plus to increase momentum and intensity. 

Come back for: Boxcar Burgers & Towpath Creamery 

This two-in-one unique restaurant deserves a stop, especially if you are looking for burgers and ice cream to fill you up and cool you down. They share the same building, only a brisk five-minute walk from the towpath. Boxcar Burgers serves “ simple food, done well made from the best local ingredients,” while the Towpath Creamery “offers healthy, all-natural farm-fresh ice cream from both Cold Run Creamery and South Mountain Creamery.”

Events: Fun Runs, Bike rides & Wine and Chocolate Walks

If running is your thing, sign up for the Potomac Street Mile. It will be taking place from August 1st through the 15th. Be sure to sign up before the close of registration on July 31st, 2020.

If biking is more your style, support Brunswick on August, 2nd 2020, and join Throwback on the Towpath. A physical distanced ride dedicated to celebrating the history of penny farthings, welcoming all riders.  

Further down the calendar, Saturday, September 5th, Brunswick will be hosting wine and luxury chocolates. Local venues gather to offer delicious samples, food selections, while live music cascades through the streets. 

Smoketown Brewing by Esther Herbers


  1. About Boxcar. (2020). Retrieved July 29, 2020, from http://www.boxcarcatering.com/about-boxcar/
  2. City Hall. (2020, July). Parks, Recreation, and Pool. Retrieved July 29, 2020, from https://brunswickmd.gov/?SEC=CF1E2F23-FC1F-4F29-870E-35A7D96F5FB7
  3. Creamery, T. (2020). Towpath Creamery. Retrieved July 29, 2020, from http://www.towpathcreamery.com/
  4. Heritage Museum, B. (2020, July). About. Retrieved July 29, 2020, from http://brunswickmuseum.org/about/
  5. High, M. (2000). The C & O Canal companion. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  6. N. (2020). Brunswick Visitor Center. Retrieved July 29, 2020, from https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/brunswickvisitorcenter.htm

Canal Story #5: John Guttmann

By Canal Story

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 info@canaltrust.org or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory.

Tell Us Your Canal Story

John Guttmann, Board Chair of the C&O Canal Trust

C&O Canal Trust: What is your relationship with the canal?
John: I live in the Palisades neighborhood of Washington, DC. Our house overlooks the Canal. It is part of the fabric of life for us. I have also served on the Board of Directors of the C&O Canal Trust since 2015, serving as Development Committee Chair, Vice Chair, and now Chair of the Board of Directors.

C&O Canal Trust: What is your favorite project or accomplishment during your time on the C&O Canal Trust’s Board of Directors?
John: Towpath Forever! Nothing is more basic than the Trust’s efforts supporting the Park’s work to maintain this great American resource for our communities today and tomorrow.

C&O Canal Trust: Do you have a favorite memory of the canal?
John: Years ago, I biked from Hancock to Georgetown with one of my close friends. It was my first sustained experience on the Canal. That trip opened my eyes to what a remarkable resource the Park is for our entire region and, in fact, for all of America.

C&O Canal Trust: What is your favorite spot on the canal?
John: Definitely Widewater. Every time I am there, I am newly astonished that such a remarkable place of peace and beauty exists so close to a major city.

C&O Canal Trust: What does the canal mean to you?
John: The Canal is a constant reminder of the importance of our National Parks. It is part of our history. It is a remarkable piece of the natural world, full of an abundance of wildlife –  a place for contemplation and regeneration. However, like all of our National Parks, it requires support and attention from the public because of shameful resource shortages. That is where the Trust and its supporters come into play.

Photo Contest Winners of 2020

By Blog

Congratulations to these photo contest winners of 2020!

Want to enter your photos for a chance to win the C&O Canal Trust Facebook Photo Contest? Visit here for more information on how you can submit and maybe we will see you next year on our list of winners for 2021. Happy snapping!

Canal Story #4: Brody Reppe

By Canal Story

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 info@canaltrust.org or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory.

Tell Us Your Canal Story

Brody Reppe, Eight-Year-Old Park Volunteer, C&O Canal Trust Fundraiser, & Towpath Bike Rider


This past summer, eight-year-old Brody Reppe learned how to ride his bike and spent time riding with his father on the C&O Canal towpath. Upon learning that the C&O Canal Trust raised money to help maintain the towpath’s surface, Brody decided he wanted to help. He signed up for our TowpathGO! fundraiser and raised over $6,500! In January, Brody was awarded WTOP’s Top Kid Award; he donated 25% of his award winnings back to the Trust. To read more about Brody’s extraordinary accomplishment, visit WTOP here.

C&O Canal Trust: What is your relationship with the canal?
Brody: My dad told me about the canal as a great place to ride our bikes.  I was excited to try it and loved it right away!
C&O Canal Trust: What is your favorite accomplishment on the canal?
Brody: I rode 50 miles in one day as a fundraiser for the canal.  It was fun and it felt good to help.
C&O Canal Trust: Do you have a favorite memory of the canal?
Brody: My summer of riding the whole C&O Canal with my dad.
C&O Canal Trust: What is your favorite spot on the canal? Why?
Brody: My favorite spot on the canal is Great Falls.  I think the falls are really pretty.
C&O Canal Trust: What is your favorite thing to do on the canal?
Brody: Riding my bike of course!
C&O Canal Trust: What does the canal mean to you?
Brody: The canal is special because there is so much history and things to see along the canal.  It’s a lot of fun!

The McNulty Family Cleans up Violettes Lock on MLK Day

By Blog, Volunteer
The McNulty family has a passion for the C&O Canal National Historical Park, grown over years of exploring the Park’s diverse recreational opportunities.  At the start of the pandemic, they section hiked the towpath from Dargan Bend to Georgetown, soaking in the different landscapes and wildlife.  The McNultys enjoyed their experience so much they decided to give back to the Park by volunteering on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.   Read More

Canal Story #3: Patricia Barber

By Canal Story

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 info@canaltrust.org or post it on your social media feeds with the hashtag #MyCanalStory.

Tell Us Your Canal Story

Patricia Barber, Retiring Director of Development of the C&O Canal Trust

C&O Canal Trust: What is your relationship with the Canal?

Patricia: I was introduced to the C&O Canal in 1979 when I arrived in the DC area from what was then Rhodesia to attend grad school. The civil war in Rhodesia in the 1970s had rendered the countryside unsafe, so I was enchanted that I could explore this national park alone and in safety. Since then, I have been an enthusiastic Park user  – hiking, biking, walking three generations of hounds, paddling on the river, learning the canal’s history, and just loving its natural beauty. My husband and I have also owned two homes within walking distance of the canal and I have been privileged to work for the C&O Canal Trust as its Director of Development for five years.

C&O Canal Trust: Our readers may not know that you are retiring from the C&O Canal Trust at the end of January 2021. What is your favorite project or accomplishment you were a part of during your time with the Trust?

Patricia: Engaging with so many wonderful  Trust supporters whose generosity will leave an enduring legacy for the C&O Canal lovers of the future.

C&O Canal Trust: What is your favorite Canal memory?

Patricia: Watching my son (now 30) toddling among the bluebells along the towpath.

C&O Canal Trust: What is your favorite spot on the canal and why?

Patricia: An impossible question. Great Falls and the Potomac Gorge for their grandeur. Monocacy Aqueduct for its beauty. Pennyfield for its froggy chorus. Paw Paw Tunnel for its testimony to the hard labor of those who built the canal. Antietam Aqueduct to Taylors Landing because it’s my “home stretch.”

C&O Canal Trust: What does the canal mean to you?

Patricia: Peace, beauty, adventure, escape from the rat race.

Lockhouse 28 Receives New Decking

By Blog, Canal Quarters

Lock 28 at Point of Rocks by Paul Graunke

Lockhouse 28, located in Point of Rocks, MD, is one of the rustic gems in the Canal Quarters program.  Our most remote lockhouse, this piece of history is only accessible by way of the towpath. Visitors can enjoy a  tranquil overnight stay with just a short hike or bike ride from the Point of Rocks parking lot. Read More

Outdoor Recreational Opportunities Along the C&O Canal

By Blog, Fish, Hike, Paddle

Sky Fire at Dam 5 by Margaret J Clingan

The C&O Canal’s official designation as a historical park is based on the Park’s rich transportation history, but the park offers a multitude of recreational opportunities as well. Visitors can enjoy everything from hiking to cycling, climbing, paddling, fishing, and more. There’s no shortage of things to see and do at the park, and you’ll enjoy nature and beautiful scenic landscapes along the way. Always check the Park’s website before heading out – some trails and locations close periodically. (https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/conditions.htm) Read More

Letter From Retiring Director of Development, Patricia Barber

By Content

Patricia on the towpath with Sam and Chico

Dear Friends,

Forty years ago when I first visited the C&O Canal, I was 22 and the national park was just nine years old. After decades of flooding and neglect, much of the infrastructure we now take for granted was simply not there. Footbridges to the Great Falls Overlook had been taken out by Hurricane Agnes in 1972. There was no boardwalk at Widewater. Historic aqueducts were crumbling and much of the towpath was in very poor condition. Read More

Trust Receives $20,000 for Canal For All Programming from Rossi Foundation

By Canal For All, Content

Latino Conservation Week 2019 by Trust Staff

Canal For All programming will be coming to Washington County, Maryland, thanks to a new $20,000 grant from the Cornelia Cogswell Rossi Foundation. Started in 2017, Canal For All is the C&O Canal Trust’s outreach program targeted at engaging youth from communities currently underrepresented in the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s visitation and helping them overcome barriers to their participation in Trust and Park programs. Read More

Trust Announces New Board Members

By News
John S. Guttmann became Chair of the C&O Canal Trust’s Board of Directors in October, taking over from Stephen E. Chaudet, who wrapped up a two-year term. John is a Shareholder in Beveridge & Diamond, PC, a law firm that focuses on environmental issues. He also serves as General Counsel and a member of the Board of NAEM, the National Association for Environmental Management. Before assuming the chairmanship, John served the Trust as the chair of the development committee and as pro bono counsel. He and his wife Holly Cannon are residents of the Palisades neighborhood in Washington, DC, which overlooks the canal. He often bikes and walks the towpath with his dog Winston. Read More

C&O Canal Trust Answers “What Are You Grateful for?”

By Blog, Content, News
The holiday season is almost upon us, and it is bound to look very different this year while we still maintain safe ways of gathering in the midst of a world-wide pandemic. The C&O Canal Trust staff are here to remind you that while the impending holiday season is bound to look a little different this year, we are all so grateful for everything we do have, namely the Park!

Celebrate with us and share what you are also most grateful for this November!

Read More

Bird is the Word on the C&O Canal

By Blog, Nature
Calling all bird enthusiasts! If you love bird watching, the C&O Canal is the spot. The canal is home to over 120 species of birds, according the NPS website. We have collected some of the most iconic photos of birds around the Park thanks to you, our canal visitors! Read more below and get your birding on.

Read More

Must-See Locales Within 5 Miles of the Canal

By Blog, Things to Do
McKee Bechers Wildlife Management Area

McKee Bechers Wildlife Management Area by Martin Radigan

The C&O Canal National Historical Park showcases a multitude of historical and natural treasures from Georgetown to Cumberland, but if you’re willing to go just five miles off the towpath, it opens another world of things to see and do. Along with the communities in the Canal Towns Partnership, here are some must-see attractions within five miles of the canal.

Read More

They Answered the TowpathGO! Call

By Blog
Eight-year old Brody, who learned to ride a bike earlier this year, rode the whole of the towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage rail trail with his dad, Dan. His final 50 miles was his TowpathGO! challenge. He raised $6,430. “On the trail this summer, Brody and I have laughed together, cried together, physically pushed ourselves together, and celebrated together,” his dad recalled. Read more about Brody’s ride here: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/c-o-canal-trust-inc/towpathgo/brody-reppe Read More

Callie Fisburn Recalls Her Year with the C&O Canal Trust

By Blog
For the past year, I served as the Chesapeake Conservation Corps (CCC) Member at the C&O Canal Trust. This professional development program, funded by the Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT), provided me with many valuable experiences and learning opportunities that will help me in my future career. As the CCC member at the C&O Canal Trust, I assisted with several programs, including Canal Quarters, Canal Pride, and Canal for All. I also assisted the communications and marketing team, writing several articles for the Canal Connection and Canal Quarterly. Read More

Hancock Bikers by Sam Judge

Day Trip Jumping Off Points

By Blog
Cyclists on the towpath in Hancock

Cyclists on the towpath in Hancock by Sam Judge

At first glance, it may seem overwhelming to choose where to begin your adventure on the C&O Canal. There are over 80 access points to the canal with ample parking. Begin your day trip adventures on the canal by checking out these suggested points of interest below! Continue reading or view by region: EastCentralWest

East: DC to Brunswick

Mile Marker 0.0 – Georgetown

The C&O Canal begins in Georgetown, and there are many ways to access the canal in this area. Canal users can explore Locks 1, 2, 3, and 4, a picturesque series of four locks very close together, separated by boat basins. A bust of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas is placed at Lock 3, in honor of’ Douglas, who raised awareness of a 1950s plan to turn the canal into a parkway. Tucked along M Street in Georgetown, just east of the towpath, is the Old Stone House. It is the oldest structure on its original foundation in the nation’s capital. The Abner Cloud House is one of the oldest existing structures on the canal. Here, The Colonial Dames of America, Chapter III, offer interpretive programs. Continuing upstream from Georgetown, canal users can see Fletchers Cove and Carderock Recreation Area, which is the Park’s premiere rock climbing area.

Mile Marker 3.2 – Fletchers Cove
A large parking lot off of Canal Road NW, near Fletchers Boathouse and the Abner Cloud House makes for easy access to the Canal at Fletchers Cove. The area is popular for fishing and boating, biking, hiking, and picnicking. You can rent rowboats, kayaks, canoes, and bikes at the concession stand or grab a hot dog and snacks. The slow waters make it an ideal location for fishing and bird watching. The Capital Crescent Trail crosses and parallels the towpath at Fletchers Cove. Built upon the abandoned rail bed of the 11-mile Georgetown Branch of the B&O Railroad, the trail is one of the most popular of more than 700 rails-to-trails projects nationwide. Downstream, canal users will find the Abner Cloud House and Georgetown. Heading upstream, canal users will find Lockhouse 6, part of the Canal Quarters program, the Cabin John Bridge, a National Historic Civil War Landmark, Seven Locks, Lockhouse 10, also part of the Canal Quarters program, and Carderock Recreation Area, the Park’s premiere rock climbing area. 

Mile Marker 10.8 – Carderock

Carderock is accessible from the Clara Barton Parkway with lots of parking. It’s a great location for those who enjoy outdoor recreation and picnicking. The western end of Carderock is the Park’s premiere rock climbing area, with routes ranging from easy to extremely technical. Billy Goat Trail C surrounds the entire area and offers a beautiful 1.6-mile hike along the Potomac River. Canal users traveling downstream will find Lockhouse 10, part of the Canal Quarters program where guests can spend the night living as the lock keepers once did, Seven Locks, the Cabin John Bridge, a National Historic Civil War Landmark, Lockhouse 6, also part of the Canal Quarters program, Fletchers Cove, the Abner Cloud House, and Georgetown. Upstream, canal users will come to Great Falls, where the historic Great Falls Tavern serves as a visitor center, and Lockhouse 22,

Mile Marker 22.7 – Riley’s Lock and Seneca Aqueduct
Riley’s Lock offers lots of parking for easy access to this section of the C&O Canal. Riley’s Lockhouse is well restored and local Girl Scouts dressed in period clothing provide interpretation and guide visitors here on Saturdays during the spring and fall. This is also the location of an engineering marvel on the canal. Of the canal’s 11 aqueducts and 74 lift locks, this is the only one that was both a lift lock and an aqueduct. Canal users heading downstream will find Lockhouse 22, part of the Canal Quarters program, and Great Falls, where the historic Great Falls Tavern serves as a visitor center. Upstream, canal users will find the remains of Goose Creek River Lock, Edwards Ferry and Lockhouse 25, another lockhouse in the Canal Quarters program.

Mile Marker 35.5 – Whites Ferry
Whites Ferry is the last of 100 ferries that operated on the Potomac River, transporting automobiles, cyclists, and pedestrians across the river from Montgomery County, Md., to Loudoun County, Va. This canal access point offers ample parking for access to the ferry, the canal, the boat ramp, and Whites Ferry Store. Canal users heading downstream will find access to Edwards Ferry, Lock 25 and Lockhouse 25, part of the Canal Quarters program. Canal users heading upstream from Whites Ferry will find the Monocacy Aqueduct, and Nolands Ferry.

Mile Marker 48.2 – Point of Rocks
Point of Rocks has been a longtime transportation crossroads, beginning with the Native Americans, then European traders and settlers, until the arrival of the railroad led to rapid growth. During the heyday of the canal, the town was booming with businesses, hotels, restaurants, and more! The canal terminated operations in 1924, leading to the decline of Point of Rocks. The original village is a county park and a parking lot for railroad commuters, however there is a deli, convenience and gas station store, restaurant, library, church, and the picturesque Point of Rocks Train Station. Downstream, canal users can travel to Nolands Ferry, one of the earliest crossings on the Potomac during Native American times, and the Monocacy Aqueduct. Heading upstream, canal users will find Lander, with access to the Catoctin Aqueduct, and Brunswick.

Mile Marker 55.0 – Brunswick
Brunswick was a small community of several hundred people when the C&O Canal reached the area. When the railroad came through in the late 1800s it was transformed and grew to nearly 2,500 people almost overnight. Today Brunswick is on the MARC commuter train line to Washington, D.C. Brunswick’s downtown has restaurants, specialty shops, and antiques stores as well as the C&O Canal Visitor Center and the Brunswick Heritage Museum. Downstream, canal users can visit Lander, with access to the Catoctin Aqueduct, Point of Rocks, and Nolands Ferry, one of the most ancient crossings of the Potomac. Upstream, canal users can access Weverton, Harpers Ferry and Dargan Bend Recreation Area.

Central: Brunswick to Hancock

Mile Marker 60.7 – Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
The town of Harpers Ferry is located at the confluence of the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers and is rich in history. It was designated a National Monument in 1944, and later a National Historical Park in 1953. Harpers Ferry is an ideal day trip with all the things to see and do at the park, which covers a multitude of interpretive themes from the Industrial Revolution to the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement. From Harpers Ferry, canal users can travel downstream parallel to the Appalachian Trail for three miles to Weverton, as well as Brunswick, and Lander, with access to the Catoctin Aqueduct. Upstream from Harpers Ferry canal users can see a dry dock at Lock 35, Dargan Bend Recreation Area, the lime kiln ruins at Antietam Ironworks, and Antietam Aqueduct.

Mile Marker 72.8 – Railroad Bridge/Canal Road
The Railroad Bridge/Canal Road lot provides ample parking and access to some well-known locations along this stretch of canal. The remains of Lock 38, also known as the Shepherdstown River Lock, are located here. It is one of only three river locks on the canal and was used most often by Boteler’s Mill, shipping and receiving cement and coal materials via canal boat. Downstream, canal users will find Antietam Aqueduct, the ruins of Antietam Ironworks, and Dargan Bend Recreation Area . Upstream, canal users can see Ferry Hill Plantation, the Killiansburg Cave and Snyders Landing.

Mile Marker 84.0 – Big Slackwater
The Big Slackwater section of the C&O Canal is a modern-day engineering marvel. The reconstruction of a 2.7-mile section of towpath here had been closed for more than a decade due to flood damage. It reopened in 2012 and features a suspended, 10-foot-wide concrete walkway, anchored in the stone of the cliff embankment. Downstream, canal users can enjoy the impressive roaring power of Dam 4. There are lots of cave features along this section of the canal including Bergen Cave at Dam 4, Snyders Landing and the Killiansburg Cave, which is where a group of Sharpsburg residents took shelter during the Battle of Antietam. Upstream, canal users can enjoy McMahon’s Mill, which has more cave features. The towpath then becomes quiet as it leads into the 10-mile stretch with no access points.

Mile Marker 99.8 – Williamsport/Cushwa 

Williamsport is a bustling hub of activity on the C&O Canal. It is the only place in North America where visitors can see a lift lock and refurbished lockhouse, a railroad lift bridge, a canal turning basin and a re-watered aqueduct with seasonal boat rides available. Lock 44 is furnished and is open to the public seasonally and canal boat rides are offered from Cushwa Basin over the re-watered aqueduct. Downstream, canal users can enjoy a quiet 10-mile stretch of the canal with no access points. This section follows close to the river and is exceptional for wildlife viewing opportunities and wildflowers in the spring. A historical marker at Falling Waters explains the area’s significance during the Confederate Retreat from Gettysburg in 1863. Upstream, canal users can see Dam 5 and Four Locks, including Lockhouse 49, part of the Canal Quarters program, where guests can spend the night in a lockhouse.

Mile Marker 108.0 – Four Locks
Four Locks (Locks 47, 48, 49, and 50) was a thriving community when the canal was operational. Today, several of the historic buildings remain, including Lockhouse 49, also a part of the Canal Quarters program. The area is now popular for recreation, from fishing and boating to bicycling and hiking. Downstream, canal users can access Dam 5 and Williamsport/Cushwa Basin. Williamsport is the only place in North America where visitors can see a lift lock and refurbished lockhouse, a railroad lift bridge, a canal turning basin and a re-watered aqueduct with seasonal boat rides available. Upstream, canal users can enjoy McCoys Ferry, with its Civil War history and beautiful views, as well as Fort Frederick State Park, which offers both historical interpretation and opportunities to enjoy nature, Big Pool, a popular fishing and boating site, and Licking Creek Aqueduct

West: Hancock to Cumberland

Mile Marker 124.1 – Bowles House/Hancock Visitor Center Parking

The Bowles House Visitor Center, at mile marker 123, is open five days a week from Memorial Day through October. Visitors can enjoy sitting on the front porch and, on occasion, may hear a ranger or local resident playing banjo or acoustic guitar. Downstream, canal users can view Licking Creek Aqueduct, Big Pool, which is a popular fishing and boating site, and Fort Frederick State Park, which borders the canal. Upstream, canal users can enjoy Little Tonoloway Recreation Area, with beautiful picnic views of the Potomac River, and Tonoloway Creek Aqueduct

Mile Marker 136.0 – Western MD Rail Trail
The Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT) runs parallel to the C&O Canal from Big Pool to Little Orleans. This parking lot at Pearre allows for easy access to the WMRT, and canal users can connect to the towpath less than a mile away at Lock 56. Downstream from here, many locals bike what they call the “bow-tie,” which utilizes both the WMRT and the towpath for 40+ miles round-trip. Bikers can experience the history and terrain of both the towpath and the restored railroad bed. Upstream, canoe rentals are available at Little Orleans Grocery Store/Bill’s Place by the Fifteenmile Creek Drive-In Campground. This is the canoe and float take-out point for the 21-mile trip through the Paw Paw Bends. The Fifteenmile Creek Aqueduct is also accessible from the campground. The rail trail now continues westward to Little Orleans, which includes the Indigo Tunnel Bypass, which utilizes ramps to the canal. 

Mile Marker 184.5 – Cumberland 

This terminus of the C&O Canal offers easy access to the C&O Canal Visitors Museum, housed in the historic 1913 Western Maryland Railway Station. The museum offers interactive exhibits and educational displays. Cumberland is where the terminus meets up with the B&O Railroad and the National Road. It’s also where the canal connected to the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail which continues on to Pittsburgh. Downstream from Cumberland you can access the smallest and the last of the aqueducts along the canal, Evitts Creek Aqueduct, and the last lift lock on the canal, Lock 75. There are wonderful bird watching opportunities on this section of the canal, particularly at mile marker 176.87 where a marsh that was formerly a basin attracts marsh birds and other wildlife. Similar wildlife can be viewed at mile marker 180.35 where the berm is a marsh. 

Written by: Charissa Hipp

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Regulations and Response to COVID-19

By Content

‘Lockhouse 44 Parking Lot Looking Into the Canal’ by Ellen Kinzer

Daily life has changed in drastic ways over the past months. But what has rapidly become apparent is how much the local community loves the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders are keeping us cloistered, but allowances for exercise have sent thousands of people to the towpath for hiking, biking, stress relief, and an escape from the tedium of quarantine. Read More

Trust Board Approves Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Resolution

By News
The C&O Canal Trust Board of Directors approved a Board Resolution at their June meeting affirming the Trust’s commitment to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Although the statement had been in the works for months, its passage now – as the nation reckons with its history of racial inequity – underscores how imperative it is that we continue to integrate these important principles into all facets of our organization. Read More

C&O Canal Trust To Fund Comprehensive Survey Ahead of Rehabilitation of Billy Goat Trail System

By News
The C&O Canal Trust will help fund a comprehensive survey of rare, threatened, and endangered plant species along the trails in the Great Falls area of the C&O Canal National Historical Park, recognized as one of the most biologically diverse parks in the entire national park system. A $64,757 grant will be used by the Park to hire a one-year botany fellow and a four-month botany intern. Read More

Books for the C&O Canal Lover

By Blog

Photo: Old Railroad Bridge Pier between MM 97 and 98 by MJ Clingan

You may already be deep into your summer reading list, but you may want to add some of these popular books featuring the C&O Canal. Whether you’re interested in historical fiction, nonfiction, or books for children, this list has something for everyone who loves the canal! This list is not exhaustive; books were selected based on popularity, quality, and availability on major book-selling websites.

Historical Fiction

River, Cross My Heart: A Novel by Breena Clarke
An Oprah’s Book Club selection, this novel is set in 1920’s Washington, DC, and tells the story of young girl’s tragic drowning in the Potomac River, and the subsequent fallout in her Georgetown neighborhood. 

Canawlers by James Rada, Jr.
Set on the C&O Canal during the Civil War, Canawlers is the first book in a series about the Fitzgeralds, a fictional family of canal boaters who are also part of the Underground Railroad. This book is perfect for both C&O Canal and Civil War history buffs!

Historical Non-Fiction

The Grand Idea: George Washington’s Potomac and the Race to the West by Joel Achenbach
This book follows George Washington in his attempt to connect the East Coast to the Western territories by constructing the C&O Canal. This is an excellent read for fans of George Washington, the history of early America, and of course, the C&O Canal. 

Home on the Canal by Elizabeth Kytle
This illustrated book provides a thorough and comprehensive history of the canal from its origins and construction in the early 19th century to the effort to preserve it as a national park that culminated in 1971. The book also includes first-hand accounts from several men and women who worked and lived on the canal, providing rare insight into their daily lives and experiences. 

Children’s Books

Captain Kate by Carolyn Reeder
The story of Captain Kate follows a young girl whose family hauls coal on the C&O Canal during the Civil War. With her stepfather off fighting in the war, Kate must step up and provide for the family by making the difficult 184.5-mile journey down the canal. This historical fiction book for young readers is a great way to introduce your kids to the history of the C&O Canal. 


The C&O Canal Companion (2nd ed.) by Mike High
This book offers a comprehensive mile-by-mile guide to the history and features of the C&O Canal with accompanying photographs and illustrations. The book also includes practical information about biking, boating, and other popular recreational activities in the Park. The second edition delves deeper into the history, featuring more information on the Native Americans and African Americans who lived in the region, as well as updated information on recreational facilities. 

Towpath Guide to the C&O Canal by Thomas F. Hahn
Another excellent and comprehensive guidebook, the Towpath Guide to the C&O Canal, also provides a detailed mile-by-mile guide with modern and historic photographs, and detailed maps of specific sections of the canal. The book also includes information about Canal Towns and the Canal Quarters program.

The C&O Canal Trust also offers a diverse selection of books about the canal at our online store, including guidebooks to the C&O Canal and GAP Trail, and local history books that feature stunning scenic photography of the most beautiful places in the Park. Browse the selection here

Park Sees 49 Percent Surge in Park Visitation

By News
In March and April of this year, the C&O Canal National Historical Park experienced a 49 percent increase in visitation over the same period in 2019, with 1.07 million visits logged by automatic counters at key access points in the Park — 352,700 more visits than in March and April 2019. But even as people have flocked to the Park for respite, they have also placed a great deal of stress on its infrastructure. Trash has accumulated, assets have been damaged, new graffiti defaces several historic structures, and regular spring maintenance has been deferred.  Read More

15 Most Instagrammable Places Along the Canal

By Blog, Photography

As many visitors of the C&O National Historical Park will tell you, the canal is a very photogenic place. From birds to flowers to landmarks, the canal serves as not only a place to escape from our busy lives, but a picturesque landscape for photographers to create art.

Below we have listed the 15 most instagrammable spots in the canal. We hope this will urge you to get out and explore the beauty of the Park. Share your photos with us by tagging the C&O Canal on Facebook or Instagram!

You can also enter your photos in our monthly Photo Contest.

Towpath From Swains Lock to Edwards Ferry to be Resurfaced in 2020

By Uncategorized

‘Resurfaced Towpath’ by Simon Barber

Thanks to the funding support of private donors to the C&O Canal Trust, along with funds from the National Park Service and the State of Maryland, resurfacing crews continue their march up the towpath. As of this spring, 42 miles of the C&O Canal’s towpath between Edwards Ferry and Lock 38/Shepherdstown Bridge have been graded and resurfaced. The Park anticipates a further 14 miles from Swains Lock to Edwards Ferry to be completed by the end of 2020.

The work is part of the “Towpath Rehabilitation: A Safe Towpath” project, aimed at improving more than 80 miles of the 184.5 mile-long towpath by removing the rocks, roots, and ruts in the towpath surface that can be dangerous to cyclists and hikers. “Nearly 5 million visitors recreate along the C&O Canal each year and nearly all of them use the towpath for a variety of activities,” Superintendent Tina Cappetta said. “We want to ensure that our visitors have a safe, durable towpath for years to come.”

Besides removing obstacles from the towpath, the resurfacing work is also removing the grassy median strip that contributes to puddling. Crews are then grading the towpath to facilitate water runoff and resurfacing it with the same crushed stone dust that is used on the Great Allegheny Passage, the rail trail that connects to the C&O Canal towpath in Cumberland, MD, and runs to Pittsburgh, PA.

The current towpath surface is gravel over clay, which holds water and is prone to muddiness when wet. The new crushed stone dust does not retain water when applied to a properly graded surface and hardens with use, making it less likely to erode and rut. It is also easier to maintain over time.

The C&O Canal Trust has raised funds to support this work and engage an engineering consultant to provide technical expertise to the National Park Service for this project. We have also assisted with advocacy work to secure $1.14 million as of 2019 from Maryland’s Transportation Alternatives Program.

REI Funds Up to $90,000 for Canal Pride

By Uncategorized

REI Group Shot by Trust Staff

REI is well known as a retailer that sells quality gear to outdoor enthusiasts. What is less well known is that the Seattle-based co-op is also an industry leader in supporting organizations that provide stewardship for parks and public lands around the nation. Since 2012, as our premier Canal Pride sponsor, REI has contributed close to $90,000 to fund the work our Canal Pride volunteers do to improve access to the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s recreational assets. This generous support is driven by REI’s philosophy that a life outdoors is a life well-lived. For folks to enjoy that experience, they need places in nature that are welcoming and accessible, be they residents of city, suburbs, or country.

The C&O Canal Trust is the recipient of an REI “Place Grant” that funds projects to improve access to the Park’s great recreational assets.  With REI’s support, the Trust’s Canal Pride volunteers work each year to repair the towpath, provide paddlers with access to the Potomac River, improve popular trails like the Billy Goat Trail, and spruce up campgrounds and picnic areas. 

“With the 2019 visitation to the Park at a 30-year high of 5.1 million, this work is increasingly important,” said Trust President Robin Zanotti. “REI’s support helps ensure that today’s visitors have a great experience and choose to come back again and again.”

The co-op’s engagement in the Park extends beyond grant-making. Employees from REI’s local stores volunteer for Canal Pride and run a variety of programs in the Park such as climbing classes at Carderock and sunset hikes along the towpath and other trails. As the effects of climate change become more apparent, REI believes that getting people outdoors is an important part of the solution. Since 2014, the co-op has closed its stores nationwide on Black Friday to encourage Americans to use that day to enjoy nature rather than hit the shopping mall. “On average, people spend 95 percent of their time indoors,” said Naz Ahmed, Experiences and Philanthropy Manager for REI Mid-Atlantic. “They are facing a nature deficit and that impacts our ability to combat climate change. As the naturalist David Attenborough once said, ‘No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they haven’t experienced.'” In partnership with REI, the Trust is working to overcome that deficit.