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Tymber Compher

Alice Ferguson Foundation’s Potomac Watershed Cleanup Registration

By Uncategorized
SSL hours are available

Celebrate FeBREWary with the Canal Towns Partnership

By Explore Your Canal, Towns and Communities

Along the 184.5 mile length of the towpath, there are many small towns and communities where visitors can explore, shop, eat and sleep. In chillier months, Park lovers can find refuge among cozy cafes or warm up with a craft beer in one of the many local breweries.

Celebrate FeBREWary this year by visiting each of these canal towns in the Canal Towns Partnership and check out these featured cafes and breweries.

Poolesville, MD
(Mile Marker 30.9, 35.5)

Locals Farm Market

19929 Fisher Avenue, Poolesville, MD 20837
4.7 miles from the towpath at Edwards Ferry

Photo from Locals (Facebook)

Brunswick, MD
(Mile Marker 55)

Smoketown Brewing Station

223 W. Potomac Street Brunswick, MD 21716
0.3 mile walk/bike from C&O Canal

Photo by Ester Herberts

Beans in the Belfry

223 W. Potomac Street Brunswick, MD 21716
0.3 mile walk/bike from C&O Canal

Photo from Beans in the Belfry (Facebook)

Harpers Ferry, WV
(Mile Marker 60.7)

Battle Grounds Bakery & Coffee

180 High St, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
0.4 mile walk/bike from C&O Canal Lock 33

Photo by Joe Hainey

Harpers Ferry Brewing

37412 Adventure Center Lane, Purcellville, VA 20132
2.5 miles from the towpath in Harpers Ferry

Photo from Harpers Ferry Brewing (Instagram)

H.B. Snallygaster’s General Store & Cafe

1102 W. Washington Street, Bolivar, WV 25425
1.6 miles  from Maryland Heights Trailhead

Photo from H.B. Snallygasters (Facebook)

Bolivar, WV
(Mile Marker 60.7)

Rations Roasters

1271 Washington Street, Bolivar, WV 25425
2.2 miles  from C&O Canal towpath

Photo from Rations Roasters (Facebook)

Shepherdstown, WV
(Mile Marker 76.8)

Bavarian Inn, Resort and Brewing Company

164 Shepherd Grade Road, Shepherdstown, WV 25443
0.7 mile walk/bike from the C&O Canal

Photo by Bavarian Brothers Brewing

Lost Dog Coffee Fine Arts Drink Emporium

134 E German Street, Shepherdstown, WV 25443
1.0 mile walk/bike from the C&O Canal

Photo from Lost Dog Coffee (Facebook)

Shepherdstown Sweet Shop and Bakery

100 W German Street, Shepherdstown, WV 25443
1.0 mile walk/bike from the C&O Canal

Photo from Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery (Facebook)

Williamsport, MD
(Mile Marker 99.4)

Cushwa Brewing Company

10210 Governor Lane Blvd. #2100, Williamsport, MD 21795
2.5 mile walk/bike from C&O Canal

Photo by Cushwa Brewing Company

River Bottom Roasters

10212 Governor Lane Blvd. #1008, Williamsport, MD 21795
2.5 mile walk/bike from C&O Canal

Photo from River Bottom Roasters (Facebook)

Cumberland, MD
(Mile Marker 184.5)

Basecamp Coffee Company

108 Greene Street, Cumberland, MD 21502
0.6 mile walk/bike from C&O Canal

Photo from Basecamp Coffee Co (Facebook)

English Ivy Removal Project at Rileys Lock Registration

By Uncategorized
SSL hours are available

Civilian Conservation Corps History Hike Registration

By Uncategorized

C&O Canal Trust Presents Park with $127,500 in Support of Programs

By News

As the philanthropic partner to the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP), the C&O Canal Trust works to raise funds for vital Park programs that improve the visitor experience and preserve the historical and natural integrity of the C&O Canal. Thanks to the generosity of individual donors and foundations, the Trust presented the Park with a gift of $127,500 in support of three key programs including Canal Classrooms; Rare, Threatened, and Endangered (RTE) Plants; and Towpath Resurfacing. Read More

Thank You to Our Canal Community who Helped Raise Over $200,000 at Park After Dark!

By News

Photo by Szemere Photography

On September 17, the C&O Canal Trust celebrated a rainy Park After Dark with more than 160 guests at the Historic Great Falls Tavern. Thanks to the generosity of our canal community, the event raised over $200,000 that will directly support Park and Trust initiatives. Of the funds raised at the event, nearly $35,000 will support the Trust’s Canal For All community outreach program. Read More

National Park Service Focuses on Invasive Plant Management

By News

Photo by Trust Staff

The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) is home to over 1,500 species of plants, including over 260 non-native plant species. The C&O Canal NHP’s Natural Resources staff has made significant progress on the management and removal of invasive species found within the Park throughout 2023. Through a partnership between the Park’s Natural Resources staff and the NPS National Capital Region Invasive Plant Management (IPM) team, treatment planning and work is underway.  Read More

Don and Liz Harrison to Receive the William O. Douglas Stewardship Award at Park After Dark

By News

Photo by Francis Grant-Suttie

Each year, during the C&O Canal Trust’s Park After Dark gala, the Trust recognizes individuals for their deep commitment to the preservation of the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) with the William O. Douglas Stewardship Award. The award is the Trust’s highest honor and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated Justice Douglas’ spirit of stewardship.  Read More

Welcoming Fall in the C&O Canal National Historical Park

By Uncategorized

Canal Gold by MJ Clingan

Nestled along the Potomac River, the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) is the perfect place to witness the beauty of nature’s transition into fall. As summer’s warmth gradually gives way to cooler breezes and the days grow shorter, the lush greenery that defines the landscape of the Park begins its shift into a breathtaking display of autumn colors. Once adorned in verdant hues, the trees that line the canal prepare to don their seasonal attire of gold, red, and orange. According to the Farmer’s Almanac’s 2023 fall leaves and peak color forecast, inland parts of Maryland will enjoy peak fall color from October 12-28. 

Autumn on the Towpath at Milepost 20 by Keld Wichmann Moeller

Predicting the timing and intensity of fall foliage can be like forecasting the weather – it’s a mix of science and art. Several key factors include rainfall, temperature, daylight duration, and the mix of tree species in the Park. As the days shorten and temperatures begin to cool, the trees respond by producing vibrant pigments that create the iconic reds, oranges, and yellows that define the fall season. A gradual transition from summer to fall, with moderate temperatures and adequate rainfall, yields more vibrant and prolonged displays. A sudden frost or heavy rain, on the other hand, can result in leaves dropping prematurely, impacting the overall experience.

 

If you’re planning to witness the fall color extravaganza in the C&O Canal NHP, here are a few tips to make the most of your experience:

  1. Plan Ahead: Monitor local weather forecasts and current Park conditions to gauge the best time for your visit. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources provides a weekly fall foliage report you can subscribe to via e-mail.

  2. Bring the Essentials: Wear comfortable walking shoes, be sure to have warm layers, and bring your camera or phone to capture the breathtaking scenery.

  3. Weekday Advantage: Consider visiting on weekdays to avoid crowds and fully appreciate the Park’s tranquility.

  4. The Towpath and Beyond: The towpath offers a picturesque route for observing the foliage. You can opt for a leisurely stroll, a bike ride, or even a peaceful afternoon picnic. Don’t forget other hiking and walking trails in the Park, like the Billy Goat C Trail and Gold Mine Trail, as well as the beauty found in our Canal Towns during the fall.

  5. Embrace the Serenity: While vibrant colors steal the show, be sure to take in the serene atmosphere and the beauty of nature as summer turns to fall. Engage your senses in this beautiful season and be present in the moment.

Autumn Morning on the Canal by Suzanne Lugerner

As autumn unfolds in the Park, it brings with it the promise of a breathtaking symphony of colors. While we can’t predict nature’s exact timing and intensity, the conditions seem favorable for a memorable fall foliage season in 2023. So, mark your calendars, prepare your camera, and embark on a journey to witness the splendid transformation that only nature can orchestrate.

C&O Canal National Historical Park is an Economic Engine for Surrounding Communities

By News

Image Credit: Jane Schmidt

National parks have long been revered for their natural beauty and historical significance, but they are also a vital part of our nation’s economy and help drive a vibrant tourism and outdoor recreation industry. According to a new National Park Service (NPS) report, 2022 National Park Visitor Spending Effects, nearly 312 million visitors spent $29.3 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park last year. These expenditures supported a total of 378,400 jobs. The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) helped lead the economic impact among NPS sites in Maryland, second only to Assateague Island National Seashore in total visitor spending. Read More

Park After Dark is One Month Away!

By News

Photo by Turner Photography Studio

We look forward to welcoming our canal community to Park After Dark at the Historic Great Falls Tavern on Sunday, September 17, 2023—just one month from today! Park After Dark is the largest annual fundraising event to benefit the C&O Canal National Historical Park. It is a wonderful opportunity to come together, highlight the work of the C&O Canal Trust, and gain insight and vision for the future from Park and Trust leadership. There are a variety of ways to be part of Park After Dark. Read More

Canal For All: Fostering Inclusivity and Diversity in C&O Canal National Historical Park

By Canal For All, News

Canal For All group Girls Inc. enjoys programming at Lock 44 in Williamsport. Photo by Francis Grant-Suttie.

The C&O Canal Trust’s Canal For All program works in partnership with the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) to provide opportunities for education, stewardship, and volunteerism that are safe, welcoming, and inclusive for all. To foster diversity and to better reflect our community, Canal For All engages BIPOC, differently-abled, LGBTQIA+, and other underrepresented or disadvantaged communities. We partner with community organizations to diminish participation barriers and create exciting and relevant opportunities to Play, Learn, Serve, and Work in the Park.

In 2023, Canal For All has grown to serve nearly 300 youth and adults and will exceed that number by the end of the year. The program’s impact and diversity have expanded in notable ways. Several new community organizations have partnered with the program, expanding our demographic reach to include adults with Down syndrome, LGBTQ+, and our first groups in Virginia.  Read More

Recreate Responsibly with Your Dog in the C&O Canal National Historical Park

By Planning Your Visit, Things to Do

Photo by Trust Staff

The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) is filled with natural beauty, rich history, and recreational opportunities. Many visitors enjoy sharing the Park with their four-legged companions. However, ensuring a positive experience requires proper planning in order to recreate responsibly. The National Park Service asks that all visitors with pets remember to B.A.R.K.:

Bag your pet’s poop

  • Properly bag and dispose of your pet’s waste. The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal NHP is a trash-free Park, and garbage cans are not available. Pet owners should plan ahead to clean up and remove their trash, leaving the Park as they found it.
  • Leaving bagged waste on the trail is littering. This includes parking areas, trailheads, signs, and milemarkers.
  • Pet waste left on the ground makes a mess for others and harms the water quality in the park.

Tater the Doodle by Callie Fishburn

Always keep your pet on a leash

  • Pets must be restrained on a leash no longer than 6 feet.
  • GPS pet trackers are not leashes.
  • Keeping pets on a leash protects people, plants, wildlife, and your pet.

Respect all animals

  • Keep your pet at a respectful distance from any wildlife or other animals you encounter.
  • Off-leash pets may spook horses or mules on the C&O Canal towpath.
  • Off-leash pets can injure and alter the behavior of wildlife in the Park.

Know the rules

  • Pets are not allowed on the Billy Goat Trail section A, or on the boardwalk to Great Falls.
  • Stay on marked trails. Going off-trail can damage sensitive plants and cause erosion. Pets are more likely to pick up ticks when off-trail.

These regulations and laws exist to keep pets, visitors, and park resources safe. There are no exceptions to the regulations for carried pets (in arms, carriers, strollers, backpacks, etc.) in restricted areas of the park. For more information, please consult the Superintendent’s Compendium.

Dog and Charles F Mercer at Great Falls by Marc Llacuna

Please be mindful of weather conditions when bringing your pet to the park. Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, can sometimes be dangerous to pets. Water fountains are available at some locations in the Park, but visitors should plan ahead and bring water for their pets.

Service Animals
Qualified service animals assisting visitors with disabilities are permitted throughout the Park and in all Park facilities. Service animals must be on a leash and picked up after.

Recreating responsibly with your dog in the C&O Canal NHP is not only about following Park rules but also about fostering a sense of stewardship for the natural and cultural resources. By knowing the regulations, keeping your dog on a leash, practicing good waste management, staying on designated trails, and being considerate of wildlife and other visitors, you can ensure a positive experience while preserving the Park’s integrity. Let’s cherish this remarkable resource and create lasting memories with our furry friends while following B.A.R.K. principles. By embracing these principles, we can continue to enjoy the beauty of the C&O Canal NHP  for generations to come.

Volunteer for the Dogs Day of Summer Music Fest

By Uncategorized

Thank you for volunteering with the C&O Canal Trust for the “Dog Days of Summer” music fest on Saturday, July 22nd presented by Cushwa Brewing and Interchange Tiki Bar & Brewery in conjunction with the C&O Canal Trust. The Trust will receive a portion of the proceeds to help our mission to preserve and protect the Historic C&O Canal National Historic Park.

Note: The volunteer event runs from 1:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m..
SSL hours are available. Children under 15 must be accompanied by an adult.

Enjoy Delicious Ice Cream Treats on the C&O Canal Ice Cream Trail

By Blog, Eat/Drink

Photo by Mark Cruz

After a day exploring the wonders of the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP), there’s nothing quite as satisfying as taking a break in a Canal Town. These towns, rich with history and small-town charm, provide a welcoming respite for weary adventurers. While meandering through the streets of most canal towns or just beyond, you’re bound to stumble upon a unique ice cream shop promising sweet treats that tantalize the taste buds. These shops offer a mouthwatering array of flavors, ranging from classic favorites to inventive creations.

Photo courtesy of The Little Red Barn

Little Red Barn Ice Cream Cafe
4610 Lander Road, Jefferson, MD

Closest Canal Town: Point of Rocks

Located in a restored, hundred-year-old barn, the Little Red Barn Ice Cream Cafe is a fun spot to enjoy frozen treats. It also offers sandwiches, soups, salads, and expresso-based drinks. The options are limitless, with indoor dining, patio space, and a walk-up window with carry-out. The Little Red Barn offers a large selection of ice cream flavors, milkshakes, and sundaes made with Hershey’s ice cream. Follow their Facebook page for special flavors and more.

Photo courtesy of Rocky Point Creamery

Rocky Point Creamery
4323 Tuscarora Road, Tuscarora, MD

Closest Canal Town: Point of Rocks, MD

Rocky Point Creamery is a classic farm-to-cone style creamery located a little over a mile from the towpath in Point of Rocks. Part of Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail, the creamery rotates over 80 flavors of ice cream weekly and offers specialty sundaes and shakes. Be sure to visit their tractor-style playground, sunflower field in July and August, and events like food trucks and goat yoga. Weekly flavors and events are posted on their Facebook page.

A La Mode Cafe
113 Potomac Street, Harpers Ferry, WV 

Canal Town: Harpers Ferry/Bolivar

A La Mode Cafe offers tasty desserts, including ice cream treats like milkshakes and sundaes. Hand-dipped ice cream is from Kawartha Dairy, and there are soft-serve options as well.  The menu also includes a few breakfast and lunch items.

Photo courtesy of Battle Grounds Bakery & Coffee

Battle Grounds Bakery & Coffee
180 High Street, Harpers Ferry, WV

Canal Town: Harpers Ferry/Bolivar

Situated right in the middle of the historic lower town of Harpers Ferry, Battle Grounds Bakery & Coffee offers breakfast and pastries, salad and sandwiches, specialty coffees, cookies, and delicious frozen custard flavors. Follow them on Facebook.

Cannonball Deli
125-129 High Street, Harpers Ferry, WV

Canal Town: Harpers Ferry/Bolivar

Just a short walk across the Potomac River into Harpers Ferry, the Cannonball Deli is one of several walk-up ice cream spots on Potomac Street. It serves Hershey’s ice cream. The deli has indoor and outdoor seating, a tasty ice cream menu, and offers other menu items like burgers, pizza, salads, and burritos.

Creamy Creations
173 Potomac Street, Harpers Ferry, WV

Canal Town: Harpers Ferry/Bolivar

Just a short walk across the Potomac River into Harpers Ferry, Creamy Creations is another walk-up ice cream spot on Potomac Street, opposite the train station. You’ll find a variety of fun, unique hand-dipped flavors, along with traditional flavors and plenty of toppings to choose from. 

Harpers Ferry Ice Cream Shoppe
408 Alstadts Hill Road, Harpers Ferry, WV

Canal Town: Harpers Ferry/Bolivar

The Harpers Ferry Ice Cream Shoppe features 16 flavors from local creamery Garber’s Ice Cream in Winchester, Virginia. The menu includes cones, cups, milkshakes, cookie sandwiches, and sundaes.

Photo courtesy of Amy & Alex’s Homemade Ice Cream and Coffee

Amy & Alex’s Homemade Ice Cream and Coffee
207 S Princess Street, Suite 2, Shepherdstown, WV

Canal Town: Shepherdstown, WV

Amy & Alex’s Homemade Ice Cream and Coffee opened in May of 2023, focusing on clean ingredients, meaning no artificial flavors and no artificial ingredients. Most of their ice cream add-ins are organic, and they offer a variety of traditional flavors as well as more unique flavors, like Honey Raspberry Blueberry Swirl, Mango Dragonfruit, and Coffee Crunch Bar. They always have two or three dairy-free coconut milk ice creams as well. Follow them on Instagram.

Photo courtesy of Rock Hill Creamery

Rock Hill Creamery
111 West German Street, Shepherdstown, WV

Canal Town: Shepherdstown, WV

Rock Hill Creamery, located in the heart of Shepherdstown, West Va., features ice cream made right in the shop using only milk, sugar, and heavy cream as the base. The menu features a variety of traditional and not-so-traditional ice cream flavors, as well as vegan sorbet. Flavors like Keylime Pie, Lavender Honey, Vanilla Chip, Zebra Cake, and Better Brownie Batter are sure to tempt your tastebuds!

Photo courtesy of Deliteful Dairy

Deliteful Dairy
16230 Long Delite Lane, Williamsport, MD 

Canal Town: Williamsport, MD

Located close to C&O Canal access points at Cushwa Basin and McMahons Mill, Deliteful Dairy offers high-quality, grass-fed dairy products, including ice cream, butter artisanal cheeses, and farm-fresh craft milk selections. This seventh-generational farm is part of Maryland’s Best Ice Cream Trail and offers a variety of tasty ice cream treats. Visit them on Facebook for events and specials.

Photo courtesy of Mama Lu Lu’s

Mama Lu Lu’s Diner
2 East Potomac Street, Williamsport, MD

Canal Town: Williamsport, MD

Just minutes from the C&O Canal at Cushwa Basin, Mama Lulu’s Diner is a bright 50’s retro-style diner serving country home cooking that incorporates family heirloom recipes. In addition to homestyle favorites like meatloaf, dumplings, and steamers, the menu includes an ice cream section with hand-dipped ice cream, sundaes, floats, milkshakes, and more!

Photo courtesy of Scoop-A-Licious & More

Scoop-A-Licious & More
16904 Virginia Avenue, Williamsport, MD

Canal Town: Williamsport, MD

Scoop-A-Licious & More offers batch-churned ice cream from Windy Knoll Farm & soft-serve ice cream. They also have a wide variety of sundaes, milkshakes, snow cones, and other delicious ice cream treats.

Photo courtesy of BuddyLou’s Eats Drinks & Antiques

BuddyLou’s Eats Drinks & Antiques
11 East Main Street, Hancock, MD

Canal Town: Hancock, MD

Just steps from the C&O Canal, Buddy Lou’s offers exceptional dining, unique artisan gifts, vintage treasures, and just plain fun! Their ice cream menu offers soft serve and Flavor Burst selections, with a multitude of topping choices. You can also get sundaes, milkshakes, and other ice cream treats.

Photo courtesy of Queen City Creamery

Queen City Creamery
108 W Harrison Street, Cumberland, MD

Canal Town: Cumberland, MD

Queen City Creamy is also a cafe and deli, making homemade frozen custard, sorbet, and frozen treats daily. There’s a Flavor of the Day Custard, a Flavor of the Week Sorbet, and a Sundae of the Week. The menu includes ice cream floats and even ice cream cakes, plus more! Stop in and enjoy flavors like Lemon Blueberry, Salted Caramel Cashew, and Caramel Old Bay. They were recently voted one of the best frozen custard places in the United States. The cafe and deli offer Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and Boars Head meats & cheeses. Follow them on Facebook.

European Desserts and More
17 Howard Street, Cumberland, MD 

Canal Town: Cumberland

Located just steps off the towpath, less than 500 ft from the end of the C&O Canal and the start of the Great Allegheny Passage trail, European Desserts and More is one of the shops at Canal Place. The shop offers six flavors of ice cream, including black raspberry and cookies & crème. Its specialty is traditional handmade desserts, like baklava, bee sting cake, and filo pastries. Follow the towpath south, and you will find a green field to eat your ice cream or other treats and view “The Cumberland,” a full-scale C&O Canal boat replica. This is the perfect place to treat yourself after your journey or fuel up for the start of your trip.

The next time you find yourself visiting the C&O Canal NHP, enjoy the simple pleasures of an ice cream treat in a canal town. We hope it will be the perfect ending to a great day! Click here for more information about the Canal Towns Partnership.

C&O Canal National Historical Park Continues Important Work to Protect Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Plants

By Nature, News

Student Conservation Association interns planting smooth rock skullcap at a site in the Potomac Gorge area. Photo by C&O Canal NHP/NPS.

The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) is focused on the long-term conservation of rare, threatened, and endangered (RTE) plant species throughout the Park. Its comprehensive strategy to conserve these plants includes identification, monitoring, habitat protection, seed collection, plant propagation, and establishing new populations of RTE species in unique habitat niches in the Park. That strategy has recently come full circle as the first several hundred plants from five species of RTE plants, processed and propagated from collected seeds, have been outplanted into appropriate habitats in the Park. Read More

Canal Community Story: Tamika Graham

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

Canal Community Story: Tamika Graham

Tamika Graham - Canal Community Story

Support the Park: Sign Up for TowpathGO!

By News

Photo by Paul Graunke

If you love the C&O Canal National Historical Park and enjoy recreating in the Park, we’ve got a great way for you to combine your passions and support the Park! Sign up for TowpathGO and rally support from your friends and family for this unique peer-to-peer fundraising challenge. Join us for this year’s TowpathGO!

Learn More

6 Things We Love About Spring on the Canal

By Things to Do

As spring has officially sprung, we here at the Trust can only hope for more consistent weather. And while there’s probably still a bit more cold weather to come, the next few weeks look like they could be the true beginning of warm weather for the Canal.

In honor of spring (slowly) coming to the area, we at the Trust have compiled a list of things we love about spring on the Canal. Read More

Rockcress

The Importance of Native Plants

By Nature
Bloodroot

Bloodroot photo by Trust Staff

Native plants are an essential part of the ecosystem in the C&O Canal National Historcal Park (NHP), which is one of the most biologically diverse parks in the National Park system, especially in regard to plant species.  The Park has recorded over 1,500 species of vascular plants, including over 260 non-native plant species, and more than 200 rare, threatened, and endangered (RTE) plants. The number of rare plants is one of the highest concentrations of state-listed rare plants in the eastern United States.

The Potomac River creates a mosaic of different natural habitats throughout the C&O Canal NHP. Native plants are the backbone of natural habitats and play a critical role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. They have evolved over thousands of years, adapting  to the local climate, soil, and other environmental factors. 

Here are some reasons why native plants are crucial for our environment:

  1. Native plants provide habitat and food for wildlife. They are the primary source of food and shelter for a wide range of wildlife species, including birds, insects, mammals, and reptiles. These plants provide essential nutrients and shelter for animals, including food for larvae and insects that pollinate flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

  2. Native plants support biodiversity. They play a vital role in supporting biodiversity. They provide food and shelter for insects, which, in turn, support other animals and plant species. Native plants also help to prevent soil erosion and maintain the balance of the ecosystem.

  3. Native plants are adapted to local conditions. They are acclimated to the local climate and soil, which makes them more resilient and better able to withstand drought, floods, and other environmental stresses. This means they require less maintenance and water, making them an excellent choice for homeowners and gardeners.

  4. Native plants improve soil health. They have deep root systems that help to improve soil health by increasing soil organic matter and reducing erosion. This means that they can help to prevent nutrient runoff and protect water quality.

  5. Native plants have cultural significance. They have been used for centuries by indigenous communities for medicinal, food, and spiritual purposes. By preserving native plant species, we can help to protect and celebrate cultural heritage.
Rockcress

Rockcress Photo by Trust Staff

Native plants are an essential component of our natural environment. They play a vital role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem in the C&O Canal NHP, at our homes, in our communities, and beyond. By promoting the use of native plants in landscaping and gardening, we can help to protect and preserve our natural environment for future generations.

 

Canal Community Story: Don Ramsey

By Canal Community Story, 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

Canal Community Story: Don Ramsey

Photo by Anupah Shah

Don Ramsey is a dedicated C&O Canal Trust volunteer. Whether leading volunteer groups doing projects in the Park for Canal Community Days events or helping with our largest annual fundraiser Park After Dark, Don is always willing to roll up his sleeves and lend a helping hand. 

During his childhood, Don’s family would go for picnics at various C&O Canal National Historical Park locations. In his teen and young adult years, he would adventure with friends to camp, bike, ice skate, hike, and canoe in the Park. Don remembers his longest bike ride with friends on the canal from Washington, D.C., to Harpers Ferry. “We had a breakdown of one of the bikes,” he recalls, “and after miles of taking turns riding and walking, we stopped at Brunswick and camped—so close, yet so far! Luckily, we were able to get dinner from Mackie machines at the YMCA at midnight.”

Photo by Turner Photography Studio

Don also had a memorable adventure by boat. “Can’t forget the rowboat overnighter from Fletchers,” he says. “Three of us left at dusk and rowed for a couple of hours upstream until we were too tired to row anymore, so we found a small area on the Virginia side to camp. When we woke up the next morning, we could still see Fletchers,” Don says, laughing.

Later in life, when Don had his own family, he took his young children on occasional picnics, small hikes, and canoe rides while visiting the Park. When his oldest son was in scouts, he became a scoutmaster and took scouts on hikes and a 50-miler bike campout along the canal. They also did canal cleanups after significant flood events. Don remembers one Whites Ferry cleanup organized by the Boy Scouts of America. “What a mess that was—but we had a great time doing it!”

Photo by Turner Photography Studio

When his kids grew up and moved out, Don organized a few bike rides in the Paw Paw Tunnel area for family, friends, and coworkers. Then he discovered a volunteer opportunity in the Park. “I first got involved with a Clark Construction event at Harpers Ferry doing a cleanup and removing invasive plants,” Don says. “I’m not sure what year that was, but I was hooked and have been there whenever possible to join in on the fun!”

Don’s dedication to volunteering in his community extends far beyond the C&O Canal Trust. He volunteers for the Prince George’s County County Christmas in April program throughout the year and with the District of Columbia Building Industry Association’s yearly massive volunteer project sprucing up Washington, D.C., recreational areas. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Don logged as many as 300+ hours of volunteer service a year. 

Don is a regular Volunteer Project Leader (VPL) when the Trust has Canal Community Days events throughout the Park. He leads groups of volunteers tasked with various Park beautification projects with a smile and a passion for making the Park a better place for everyone. Don is welcoming to all, especially young people who want to try their hands at volunteer service. “Working with others and teaching the younger generation about the importance of doing good things for our national parks and others will help the environment, which helps the people and animals in the long run,” he says. 

Photo by Trust Staff

Don’s favorite places in the C&O Canal NHP include Great Falls, the Paw Paw Tunnel, and the Harpers Ferry area. “Those are the places I suggest to people at work or elsewhere to get them interested in visiting the Park,” he says. Though he spends less time recreating in the Park these days than volunteering, it’s still very near and dear to Don’s heart, and he enjoys giving back to it. “Helping others makes me feel good,” Don says, “and doing this work along the C&O Canal is especially nice as not only do I get to visit such a wonderful place, but I can leave it in better condition than when I arrive!”



Sign up for TowpathGo 2023!

By Uncategorized

Roy Sewall’s Legacy of Leadership and Stunning Photographs

By Photography

Photo by Roy Sewall

Roy Sewall, a founding leader of the C&O Canal Trust and a masterful photographer, passed away on January 17, 2023. Most people in our canal community are familiar with Roy through his beautiful photographs, shared widely by the Trust over the past 15 years.

“I became a serious photographer in 2001,” Roy wrote on his website, www.roysewallphotography.com. “I started with the Potomac River and the C&O Canal, and they were the subjects of my two books in 2005 and 2009. This area became a part of me forever.”

Not everyone knows that Roy was the first chairman of the Trust Board of Directors, serving the organization from 2007 to 2010. “He was the person I relied on the most when we were launching the Trust,” said Matt Logan, former president of the Trust. “He was the perfect partner.”

Roy shared many of his photographs with the C&O Canal Trust. They capture the beautiful scenery along the C&O Canal and our unique Canal Quarters program. “A Sewall photograph was distinct and perfectly taken,” said Francis Grant-Suttie, vice chairman of the Trust’s Board of Directors, who was fortunate to study photography with Roy.

We aspire to Roy’s high standards as an organization and as canal enthusiasts. Roy’s love for the C&O Canal will live on through the images he captured over the years. His family remains in our thoughts. You can read his obituary here.

Photo by Roy Sewall



Where do the Turtles Go During the Winter?

By Nature

Take a walk on the C&O Canal towpath in the spring or summer and you’re likely to spot turtles sunning themselves on logs in the canal or perhaps along the towpath. Have you ever wondered where those turtles go during the winter months?

Photo by Jan Branscome

Turtles brumate during the winter, similar to hibernation in mammals. Brumation is a semi-dormant winter cool-down that allows turtles to survive when food is scarce and temperatures are much colder. During brumation, turtles can still move but they live off of stored fat and their metabolism slows.

The canal is home to three different types and several species of turtles: the Eastern Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina serpentina), Basking Turtles, and the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina). 

Photo by Paul Graunke

Eastern snapping turtles are a common find throughout the C&O Canal. As their name suggests, these omnivores have long necks, quick reactions, and are aggressive on land. These large reptiles are almost exclusively aquatic: they occupy the canal and the Potomac River except for land travel during the spring and early summer for mating and nesting. Females lay an average of 50 eggs between April and November. Snapping turtles can be identified by their flat oval brown shell, wide flat heads, bulky limbs, and long alligator-like tail. They weigh between 10 and 35 pounds and are the largest freshwater turtle in Maryland. Eastern snapping turtles dive down to the muddy bottom of the canal and the Potomac River in the winter, remaining alert to light and temperature.

Photo by Jan Branscome

Basking turtles are a frequent sight throughout the canal and in slow-moving or still portions of the river where they can be viewed swimming and sunning themselves on logs or rocks. These turtles rarely ever leave the water except for nesting in the spring and early summer. Eastern Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta picta) can be identified by their olive-brown to black shells with red markings on the edge, yellow spots on either side of their black head, yellow stripes along the jaw and through the eyes, and yellow or orange belly. These omnivores are just 4.5 to 6 inches long.

Similar species include the non-native Red Eared Slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), and native Northern Red-Bellied Cooter (Pseudemys rubriventris) which are both slightly larger than Painted Turtles. The presence of a red oval-shaped marking behind the eye helps identify Red Eared Sliders from the narrower yellow lines on the Red-Bellied Cooter’s head. Red Eared Sliders are omnivores and are typically 8 to 13 inches long. Red-Bellied Cooter’s are omnivores as juveniles and herbivores as adults, growing 10 to 12.5 inches in length. All basking turtles stay buried in the mud beneath the water during the winter months, occasionally rising to the surface for food or air. 

Photo by Garner Woodall

Eastern box turtles are the most terrestrial turtle native to the C&O Canal. They are named for their boxy, high-domed shell and they have the ability to close up their body using a hinge on the shell’s underside. These omnivores can be found throughout the Park, in both forested and open habitats. Like all other turtle species in the C&O Canal, they are most active in the spring and early summer. Box turtles are usually dark brown with gold or orange blotched patterns on the shell, orange scales on the head, neck, and front limbs, and have brown or red eyes, which differ based on the sex of the turtle (typically red for males, yellow-brown for females). They grow to be 4.5 to 6 inches in length, burrowing deep under the soil and leaves to brumate during the winter months.



C&O Canal Trust Board of Directors Names Lauren Riviello as New President and CEO

By News, Uncategorized

Lauren Riviello by Trust Staff

Williamsport, Md. – The C&O Canal Trust’s board of directors is pleased to announce it has named Lauren Riviello as its new president and CEO. Riviello has more than a decade of nonprofit leadership experience and is deeply passionate about the Trust and its mission. She has served as the Trust’s director of development since February 2021 and will assume the role of president and CEO on April 1, 2023. Read More

Photo Contest Winners of 2022

By Blog, Photography

In 2022, we received many wonderful photo contest entries. From iconic nature pictures to mesmerizing sunsets to beautiful day trips along the towpath, our community of canal enthusiasts shares 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 2022.

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

Canal Community Story: Charissa Hipp

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

Canal Community Story: Charissa Hipp, C&O Canal Trust Director of Marketing & Communications

In 2016 I began spending a lot of time in the C&O Canal National Historical Park, often with my youngest of three children in a jogging stroller. At first, our excursions were a way to get outside for exercise and fresh air, but they soon evolved into something special. The more time we spent in the Park, the more we wanted to be outdoors and immersed in nature. We needed nature in our lives and spending time outdoors became our special time together.

My daughter and I started piecing together sections of the towpath in Washington County and soaking in the natural beauty of our surroundings throughout the year. As she grew into toddlerhood and became more alert, we really started enjoying wildlife—from deer to woodpeckers, great blue herons, barred owls, turkeys, butterflies, turtles, snakes, a bear, and even a fisher cat. We’ve had many memorable wildlife sightings.

When my daughter started walking and talking, our canal adventures continued, often with her hiking alongside me. She began asking many questions about plants, and we consulted the iNaturalist app after each outing, armed with photos of things we had seen. Eventually, we started to recognize specific vegetation. And now, every springtime, we look forward to the Virginia bluebells, bloodroots, Dutchman’s breeches, trillium, and the emergence of other spring ephemerals signaling that warmer weather is on the horizon. 

As I reflect on our time in the Park, I’m flooded with memories of the special moments we have shared on the towpath. Whether it’s crunching through fall leaves, standing still like a statue to quietly watch a great blue heron, soaking in the warm sunshine as it sets in a pink cotton candy sky, or trudging through the snow and breathing in the cold winter air, our time on the towpath has been intertwined with unforgettable moments. I’ll never forget witnessing a hummingbird swoop in to enjoy some nectar along bluebell alley or watching a large group of swallowtail butterflies encircle my daughter’s stroller like something from an enchanted forest in a Disney movie. 

Last year on New Year’s Eve, my daughter and I hiked from Weverton to Harpers Ferry and back. I was tired from holiday preparations and festivities, and as soon as we got on the towpath, my six-year-old daughter’s words completely shifted my outlook. “Look, mama, see how beautiful the bare sycamore trees are along the river with their white tips,” she pointed out. Without taking a breath, she continued, “Look, there’s perilla, and over here is some moss growing on a log. This is going to be a great day!” She was right because we’ve never been out in the Park and wished we had stayed home instead. Every day on the C&O Canal has been a day well-spent, enjoying and appreciating nature together. I hope she sees the importance of protecting and preserving this place so future generations can marvel at its beauty and wonder.

Canal Community Story: Joseph and Susan Adams Regalbuto

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

Canal Community Story: Joseph and Susan Adams Regalbuto

Who would have expected to see Siberian Husky dog teams racing by, or wild turkey footprints in the snow, or cascading waterfalls frozen in ice? Winter walking on the C&O reveals many surprises.

With appreciation for William O Douglas’ vision of preserving the towpath and Thomas F. Hahn’s remarkable Towpath Guide to the C&O Canal, we ventured out to section walk the 184.5 mile length of the C&O Canal in both directions. The total mileage would have been 369 but we couldn’t resist adding a few more miles to explore side trips. Since we’re both retired and in our 70s it seemed like the perfect time to explore this historical gem.

Starting on the first day of winter in 2020, we averaged around 13 miles each day, 6 – 7 miles in each direction, returning to our car and driving home to Burke, Virginia, or to a hotel in Cumberland, Maryland, for the night. Two very special nights were spent in a lockhouse, where we set off on our walks from the lockhouse front door. The adventure lasted for 29 days of walking in an out-and-back pattern, usually walking twice a week, and visiting all 74 locks.

Although we were familiar with the lush greenery of the Canal towpath in three seasons, we had never seen the canal in the winter, without leaves blocking the views of Potomac River and the distant hills of West Virginia. Stone foundations hidden behind thick growth in other seasons now basked in the sun. The outdoor historical museum known as the C&O Canal was visible in all its winter glory.

Leaving behind the bustle of Georgetown, (Mile 0) we headed upriver on our journey through history, stopping at every lock and lockhouse to read the descriptions and marvel at the engineering.

The powerful roar of Great Falls (Mile 14) made it clear why six locks were needed within one mile – so canal boats could bypass the dangerous drop in elevation. Further upriver Edwards Ferry parking lot (Mile 30) was flooded with icy water; frozen puddles glistened on the towpath.

The Monocacy Aqueduct (Mile 42) is described as one of the most beautiful structures on the canal, with seven arches of pink quartz sandstone. Amazingly, this 1833 aqueduct is still standing after nearly 200 years of hurricanes and floods. We tried to visualize the aqueducts filled with water, allowing the canal to cross over rivers. Many of the C&O’s eleven aqueducts served as scenic spots for our lunch stops.

Near Brunswick (Mile 52) an old stone bridge over a culvert had collapsed and the towpath ended in a chasm. National Park Rangers constructed a temporary low wooden bridge, and we were relieved to find a way to continue our trek. The low bridge allowed us to view a culvert from below instead of walking over it. Hahn’s guidebook lists 241 C&O culverts, built so that streams could cross under the towpath. Some of the culverts are beautiful works of art, often missed by those treading on top of them.

Lots of caves in limestone cliffs appeared on this winter walk, no longer hiding behind deciduous trees. We explored several of the lower caves near Ferry Hill (Mile 72), walking upright for 30 feet into one of them. In another cave we saw hundreds of tiny stalactites forming on the walls and ceiling. The caves had the good earth smell of a newly tilled garden after a rain. High on the cliffs, cascading streams were now beautiful frozen waterfalls. This was a cold, windy day but because the river took two huge S turns, we never faced into the wind for long.  A red fox with a bright white tail tip scampered across the trail in front of us, apparently oblivious to wind and cold.

We heard a new sound at Mile 84 – the thundering roar of water surging over a dam. As we rounded the bend, Dam 4 and the giant lake it formed came into view. The canal disappeared at this section, because canal boats could easily navigate the still water of this “slackwater” lake.

At McMahon’s Mill (Mile 88) the parking lot was so icy and that we used trekking poles and moved gingerly. The towpath itself offered safer walking, although with 5” of new snow, the progress was slow. Fresh tracks of deer, racoons, and smaller animals crossed our path. We were initially baffled by fairly large three-toed tracks that turned out to be wild turkey tracks. The towpath in this section came within yards of the Potomac River and steep cliffs came right down to the towpath. At times the river curved so sharply that we saw rope burns carved into the limestone cliffs, from the mules pulling the canal boats around the bend. At Milepost 92.25 we celebrated the snowy half-way point of our adventure.

In late February of 2021 our walks were abruptly halted by two weeks of ice and snow. We optimistically drove to Williamsport (Mile 99) to continue on our route, but the trail was too icy for safe walking, even with trekking poles. The snow and ice were followed by a weekend of rain, and the Potomac flooded over its banks. On our next walk we watched entire trees hurtling downstream, and small “islands” of tangled bushes and chunks of land careening down the river. By the end of our day’s walk the river had risen to within a few feet of the towpath. We later learned that downriver, at mile 89, the towpath was impassable due to the high water.

We were impressed by the remarkably good condition of Williamsport’s Lock 44 and its lockhouse. We also examined the Conococheague Aqueduct, several weirs and a railroad lift bridge. The weirs are stone water chambers built beside locks to direct water away from the canal during high-water periods. The railroad lift bridge allows canal boats to pass beneath the movable tracks. This half-mile stretch includes more canal structures than anywhere else on the towpath. We tried to imagine towns like Williamsport at the height of the bustling canal activity as goods traveled downriver on the canal. In an interesting side note, Hahn adds that Williamsport was the capitol of the United States for 24 hours during the Revolutionary War!

In the Four Locks section (Mile 108) it was humbling to stand on the towpath looking upstream at Locks 47, 48, 49 and 50 and marvel at their construction and their endurance through all the years of floods. At the old mule barn, where mules lodged for the winter, we learned that mules were a cross between female horses (for their size and temperament) and male donkeys (for their strength and endurance – and their ears!) We also saw the tiny wait house at Lock 50 where lockkeepers could take refuge during storms.

We stepped back in time to the late 1800s as we entered our lodging at Lockhouse 49. Squeaky timbered floors were covered with colorful braided rugs. Comfortable old rocking chairs and beautiful wooden tables also welcomed us. There was no running water for faucets, showers, or toilets, but we knew this in advance and we didn’t mind the walks to the outhouse. The lockhouse logbook was filled with impressions from both the young and old, from East Coast to West Coast. It also warned us of mice activity, so we gratefully returned all our food to the car! We would have gladly extended our stay in this peaceful place, but the towpath beckoned.

We trekked beside a very long lake aptly named Big Pool (Mile 112). It was at least 1½ miles long but it seemed longer with all the tiny flies that attached themselves to our pants, shirts, packs and shoes. As soon as we reached the end of the lake the flies miraculously disappeared. We met two other walkers on this section and their only comment was – “wow, some flies!”

At Mile 118 two beaver dams and two beaver lodges were clearly visible, with much evidence of saplings gnawed by beavers. Little beaver or muskrat trails led from the canal across the towpath to food sources in the field beyond.

At Hancock (Mile 124) we were greeted with a clear, sunny sky and a warm breeze. What a change from the snowy days when the temperature dropped into the 20s! During our walks we chose the most scenic spots we could find for lunch – beside an aqueduct, on the front step of a lockhouse, at the picnic table of a campground. On this day we sat on a log on a rise overlooking the Potomac River. We lingered over lunch in the sun, with expansive views of the West Virginia shoreline. Hancock is the most northern point of the canal and is only 1.7 miles from the Pennsylvania border. On our next day’s walk, we’ll be heading southwest. We now understand why the words “upriver” and “downriver” are used instead of “north” and “south” – because the Potomac River carves deep bends in all four compass directions.

To preserve six bat species living in Indigo Tunnel (Little Orleans, Mile 140), the Western Maryland Rail Trail detours onto the towpath for two miles. We walked up to look at the tunnel that was blasted through Germany Hill. Although we didn’t see any bats, we did see the bat gate that was erected at each end of the tunnel to allow bats to enter but to keep larger critters out.

The biggest challenge of the trip was the drive to the parking area of Bond’s Landing (Mile 150). After 30 minutes of negotiating rocks and water on a steep pothole-filled dirt road, we came to a rocky stream that was too deep to cross. Well out of cellphone range, we decided the safest route was to leave the car on Kasecamp Road and walk the remaining 1½ miles through streams and rocky hills. Apparently, we needed a four-wheel drive and not our little Toyota Prius. It took us three hours from our house to reach the towpath. To eliminate long driving distances for the last sections of the walk, we decided to spend the final three nights in Cumberland. The Fairfield Inn and Suites, located literally at the end of the towpath, became our new base camp.

What a fun section of strangely numbered locks – 62, 63 1/3, 64 2/3, and 66 – all within a half mile (Mile 154). The upriver end of the canal, with Locks 67-75, was built before this section; the numbers 62-66 were reserved for five locks in this area. However, to save money, Lock 65 was eliminated. The numbers saved for the five locks were then evenly divided between four locks, resulting in the fractions. Therefore, there are only 74 locks on the canal but the furthest upriver lock is named Lock 75!

We saw very few fellow walkers through the winter months, but we did meet three distance walkers pushing “Chariots,” much like Baby Joggers loaded with gear. They were walking across the country from Delaware to California on the American Discovery Trail. We later learned that they successfully reached their destination – the Pacific Ocean.

We were excited to walk through PawPaw Tunnel (Mile 155), one of the greatest engineering feats of the mid-1800s. It took fourteen years to complete the tunnel, drilling through almost ¾ miles of solid rock. The sound of water dripping, falling, and flowing; the sight of light at the end of the tunnel growing larger and larger; the smell of wet dirt and tiny little mushrooms on the walls – these were totally different sensory experiences for us. With our headlamps we searched in vain for bats hanging from the six million bricks that lined the tunnel.

Just for fun, we walked across the Oldtown toll bridge (Mile 166) to eat lunch sitting on a stone wall in Greenspring, West Virginia. This low wooden bridge, the shortest bridge crossing of the Potomac River, is one of the very few private toll bridges in the country. Charge for cars: $ 1.50.  When we asked the woman in the toll booth if there was a charge for walkers, she replied, “Free as you go.”

The next day was filled with sights and smells: eight deer, three horses, dozens of cows – some with calves too young to leave their mother’s side – countless turtles, a rabbit, and lots of farm scents! We detoured to a little gated cemetery maintained by the Cumberland Historical Cemetery Organization. The Organization’s President, who was changing flags on the flagpole, proudly gave us a tour of the Pollack family gravesites.

A cacophony of sounds suddenly exploded from the trees and we searched for tiny birds hidden among the branches. Instead, the noise heralded the 17-year return of the cicadas. Croaking frogs and screeching Pileated Woodpeckers added their own sounds to the buzzing cicadas. The earth smell gave way to a vegetation smell and green buds appeared on the trees. Soon the expansive view of the Potomac River and the far shoreline will be hidden again behind foliage.

The view coming into Cumberland (Mile 184.5) was a memorable sight, with church steeples in the near distance and blue hills in the far distance. To commemorate the completion of our walk, we raised a toast of Paw Paw lemonade bottled in Cumberland, as we reminisced about our very special winter walk through history.

Park After Dark Attendees Show Their Appreciation for the C&O Canal

By Blog

Photo by Turner Photography

What do you love about the C&O Canal? We gave Park After Dark attendees some prompts asking what they appreciate about the canal. From their favorite landmark to their favorite memory, canal enthusiasts have so much to be grateful for. Here are some of the responses we received.

Photos by Turner Photography

The Canal is a great place for community. Who do you enjoy spending time in the park with?

“Running, walking, and explaining the C&O Canal path with family and friends from here and out-of-town.”

“Friends, Family, Dogs!”

“Every spring, a friend and I go on a wildflower walk on the Billy Goat Trail – spring beauty, trillium, twin leaf, dutchman’s breeches, phlox, trout lily…”

How do you support the Park?

“Walking and picking up trash, Naturalist walks: enjoying nature and sharing it with others, weed warrior, contributes to C&O Canal Trust.”

“C&O Canal Trust, Hiking, USE.”

Write a Park-themed Haiku or Poem

“The Marble Quarry
Source of statuary stone
and tons of paw paws.”

“Morning fog settles.
Skimming water, crane takes flight.
Shad season is here.”

What is your favorite memory, landmark, mile marker, section of the Canal?

“My frequent bike rides to Georgetown and rides way north of Great Falls.”

“184 miles and a sore rear end, participating in a Douglas hike near Williamsport.”

“Rode through all 186 miles of C&O Canal last year. Truly enjoyed it.”

“My favorite memory was my son getting married at the Great Falls overlook.”

“Billy Goat Trail looking for wildflowers and Bald Eagles.”

“Gold mine loop – best hike near DC.”

“We love White’s Ford, down to Whites Ferry. Quiet, beautiful & it saved us during the pandemic!”

“Mile 9 – Islands in the river.”

“My mum & I walked the entire C&O Canal over a 3 year period.”

“We have hiked all but 30 miles of the C&O (little by little over many years). We particularly love the places where there is little traffic. Miles 140-150, we saw about 6 people all day.”

“The bench that my family and I donated in honor of my late father.”

Photo by Turner Photography

C&O Canal Trust Raises Over $200,000 at Park After Dark

By News
On September 17, the C&O Canal Trust welcomed nearly 150 guests to the Historic Great Falls Tavern for the largest fundraising event of the year, Park After Dark. The event, which benefits the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP), raised a total of $223,750—surpassing the Trust’s fundraising goals and previous Park After Dark events. Of the funds raised at the event, $55,000 will directly support the Park’s work to preserve and protect rare, threatened, and endangered plants. Read More

Canal Trust Staff to Host Walks for Walk Maryland Day

By News

Walk Maryland Day by Charissa Hipp

Wednesday, October 5 is the 8th annual Walk Maryland Day. Members of the C&O Canal Trust staff will be hosting walks throughout the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) during the day. The public is invited to attend these walks and participate in Walk Maryland Day, a celebration of Maryland’s official state exercise. With 347 miles of trails in the park, the C&O Canal NHP is the ideal place to enjoy the outdoors and take a walk.

  • 10:00 a.m. – Point of Rocks, 2 miles round trip
  • 11:00 a.m. – Billy Goat C Trail, 2.8 miles round trip
  • 5:00 p.m. – Brunswick Boat Ramp, 2 miles round trip
  • 5:30 p.m. – Cushwa Basin at Williamsport, 3 miles round trip
  • 5:30 p.m. – Little Tonoloway at Hancock, 2.7 miles round trip
  • 6:00 p.m. – Railroad Bridge Bridge Parking on Canal Rd. at Sharpsburg/Shepherdstown, 2-3 miles round trip
  • 6:00 p.m. – Dam 5, 2-3 miles round trip

Participants are encouraged to register as a Sole Mate on the Walk Maryland Day website.

Canal Community Story: Jim Shea

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

Jim Shea, Author of Get Up and Ride

Jim Shea is author of Get Up and Ride. In this Canal Community Story, he shares an excerpt from his book which is an account of his experience riding the entire length of the C&O Canal. You can purchase his book on Amazon here.

Marty and I left the Antietam Visitor’s Center and stepped out into the heat, fully exposed to the sun. We were at the highest point in the battlefield and could see for miles in every direction. We looked out over the Cornfield – with the stalks nearly as high as they would have been in September – and were amazed that so many men could die so quickly in such a small area. We sensed the gravity of what had happened on these fields over 150 years ago.

We rode our bikes around the entire battlefield. By now it was over ninety degrees and humid. We saw the sites of the other battles, including “Bloody Lane,” where 5,500 men perished in the morning in a fierce firefight. We saw many monuments built as tributes to each of the brigades decimated that day. After about an hour, we were really hot, and Marty took cover under a tree and sucked on his water bottle.

“We gotta get outta here,” he said.

I eased my bike down the hill and joined him under the tree. “Yeah, it’s really hot.”

I got out a map and saw what looked to be a shortcut which would take us back to the C&O trail. Marty wanted to simply retrace our path back to where we originally exited the trail, but I convinced him to try the shortcut.

We began pedaling out in the heat. What the map did not show was the changes in elevation on my “shortcut.” The road took us up a huge hill – I made it about halfway up and then had to walk my bike. During the ascent, the skies started to darken. Suddenly, a massive thunderstorm broke out.

We were immediately soaked. Then the lightning started, and the thunder was deafening. Things went from uncomfortable to dangerous in less than a minute. After we crested the top of the hill, we rode our bikes downhill in the driving rain, looking for cover.

The first building we passed was a dilapidated house with a covered porch on the front. I had gone on Appalachian mission trips with my sons for several summers, and we often worked on houses that looked like this one. Today, this house would save us.

We decided we needed to get on that porch, no matter who or what was in the house. Boldly, we carried our bikes up on the porch and breathed a sigh of relief at being out of the rain and lightning.

Once we’d caught our breath, we peered in through the front windows. No sign of life. We knocked on the door, and a few seconds later, a woman in her fifties came out, followed by an elderly woman who we quickly determined was her mother. We introduced ourselves and explained our situation. The younger woman, Janet, was extremely gracious and immediately went inside and reappeared with two bottles of ice-cold water – just what we needed!

We told her about our trip. The elderly woman watched us but didn’t speak. Janet told us that her mother had dementia. Janet worked at the Maryland state maximum security prison in nearby Hagerstown, Maryland, and began to tell us about some of the prisoners and several harrowing escape attempts. It was a great conversation and a wonderful chance encounter.

As we conversed, the rain eased up and the thunderstorm passed through. We asked Janet about the best way to get back to the C&O Canal trail. She pointed to the route and explained it, which sounded a bit complicated and involved several turns. Marty and I looked at each other and nodded – we were pretty sure we’d gotten it.

Just before we left, the elderly woman spoke! She said something about the directions to the trail:

“Trail… miss… back up hill… wrong way… long time…”

She was hard to understand, and we tried to make out what she was saying.

“Miss… trail… hill…road… long way back…”

Marty and I could not make sense of her words.

“Hey Mom, these guys need to get on their way,” Janet said to her mother dismissively.

We thanked them both, then got on our bikes and headed down the road.

We found the first turn Janet had indicated, and then the second. We headed downhill to what we thought would be the C&O trail. But we saw no sign or indication of the trail.  Then the road started heading uphill, and we followed it for a while – no trail. Marty stopped. I stopped behind him.

“Jimbo, remember what that old lady said?”

“Not really, I couldn’t make it out,” I replied.

“Something about missing the trail and the road heading back uphill?” said Marty.

“Yeah…”

“I think she was saying that it was easy to miss the trail, and if we missed it, the road would head back uphill and we would end up riding on the road in the wrong direction for a long while,” said Marty.

“Yeah, but she didn’t know what she was talking about.”

“Well, this feels like what she was talking about. Let’s head back down.”

We aimed our bikes back downhill and, sure enough, we found a small sign marking the trail at the bottom of the hill.

“That old lady was right!” said Marty.

“Probably saved us a bunch of time,” I said.

By now, with the Antietam stop, my mis-directions, the rain and the stop on the porch, we were running late. It would be getting dark by the time we’d arrive at our stop for the night. We pedaled hard toward Harpers Ferry.

President & CEO of the C&O Canal Trust Robin Zanotti Announces Retirement

By News
Robin Zanotti

Robin Zanotti by Trust Staff

Williamsport, Md. — After more than seven years as president of the C&O Canal Trust, Robin Zanotti has announced she will retire in early 2023. Zanotti is participating in a year of succession planning and transition management with a succession planning team led by the Trust’s Board of Directors. This is meant to ensure the change in leadership is seamless and the organization maintains its momentum in both revenue and program growth.  Read More

Canal Community Story: Linda Dugan

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

Linda Dugan, great-granddaughter of lock attendant at Lockhouse 28

My name is Helen Linda Dugan my brother’s name is Donald William Creager and my sister is Lisa Fulton Hutzler. We are the children of Helen Mae Fulton Creager. Our mother Helen was the  granddaughter of William Henry Fulton who was the last known lock attendant at lockhouse 28. My brother and sister and I have been renting the lockhouse in Point of Rocks, Maryland for many years now. We also  bring some of our other family members to join us. We go there every year around May the 17th because that was our late mother’s birthday. We go there to be close to our ancestors and celebrate our mother’s birthday.  We usually plant a flower and we always sing Happy Birthday and we even have cake. Our mother was raised by her Aunt Doris  and Uncle Walter who lived on the hill across from the Lockhouse 28.  Our Great great grandfather William Henry Fulton was the last known Lock attendant.  Our mother told stories of how she grew up along the river.

She told us about the Flood of  ’36, It was a real bad flood. She said she saw animals and chickens washed down the river, clinging to rooftops. As a little girl she had a 6′ hand carved wooden Indian that was given to her by the local store owner. It was a cigar display of some sort. She loved her wooden Indian but the flood took it away, which made her very sad. She also told stories of travelers and hobos, how they would stop at the house when they were hungry, and they would feed them. They used wood and coal to heat by and kerosene lanterns to see by at night. And let me tell you when it’s dark it is dark along the towpath and lock house. The only light you will see is a firefly  and an occasional train. There are still pieces and parts of houses across the tracks along the mountain part of the towpath that most people don’t even know  existed. Great Uncle’s Walter and Willie Fulton Jr lived in those houses with their families. We enjoy the towpath and It makes us happy to visit and remember our  Family history.
Before we go to sleep we sing Happy Birthday to our late mother.
I know it might sound a little strange but we feel the presence of our mom and relatives that once lived there a long towpath at lock 28.

Canal Community Story: Sarah Brown

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

Sarah Brown, Biological Technician at the C&O Canal National Historical Park

C&O Canal Trust: How did you hear about the C&O Canal?
Sarah: I had first heard of the C&O Canal through two good friends I met while attending James Madison University for graduate school. They rode the full Canal one summer and came back telling me all the great things about their trip and about the Park. Since I am not from the area, I was very surprised to learn there exists this long national park that follows the Potomac River and is ideal for walking and biking. However, I was living in Virginia at the time and was not very near the Park. So, I just knew the C&O Canal existed, but it had not taken shape as a place to visit let alone to work. The C&O Canal finally took shape when I worked with the USGS last summer on a project monitoring bees and flowers among several national parks including the C&O Canal. During that summer, I would travel to sites within the Park for work and would bike the towpath as much as I could in my free time!

C&O Canal Trust: Tell us about your professional background.
Sarah: I am fairly early in my, hopefully, long career in plant monitoring, ecological restoration, and natural resource management. Prior to joining the Park, I primarily worked field technician positions, but the projects and locations of these positions have varied. One project was exploring the use of native plants in sustainable and water efficient landscaping in Texas. Another project was in south-eastern Ohio on former surface coal mine land where we were restoring the forest understory with native plantings and invasive species removal. For another project I was based in Virginia and traveled to West Virginia to monitor pollinators visiting flowers present in a steep-sloping, dry, shale substrate environment known as a shale barren. The USGS project last summer was my most recent work before joining the C&O Canal. 

C&O Canal Trust: What is your position with the C&O Canal NHP, and what does the job entail?
Sarah: My position title is biological science technician, which can be a catch-all position for managing and executing natural resource management projects with the Park. This mean I spend much of my time out in the park completing vegetation surveys, recording any rare plant occurrences, and fulfilling the field work necessary for any additional research or monitoring projects occurring in the Park. However, my most important focus is leading the Park’s Rare Plant Propagation project. The goal of the project is to harvest seed material from wild populations in the Park, grow the material, and plant grown material back into the Park. This means that most of my time is spent monitoring documented rare plant populations for their flower and fruit production, collecting seeds, and preparing collected material to be grown by our greenhouse partner. 

C&O Canal Trust: Can you talk about the Rare Plants Initiative with the Park?
Sarah: Thanks to the C&O Canal’s proximity to the Potomac River, the Park protects a large stretch of unfragmented, unique, and highly biodiverse riparian forested and open habitats. Included in this biodiversity are a recorded 200 state rare, threatened, and endangered plant species. The Park has a long history of rare plant surveying, with the earliest rare plant occurrence recorded in 1870, and the Park’s Rare Plants Initiative is a continuation of such surveying. The core of the Park’s Rare Plants Initiative is monitoring known occurrences for a population’s persistence in that location, recording any changes in the population, and document threats such as invasive species encroachment or excessive deer browse. Locating new occurrences is certainly included in the initiative, but monitoring is such a high priority because frequently these plants exist in very precarious circumstances and/or in very low numbers so that plants you saw five years ago might not be present today. Thus, our monitoring of known occurrences will go forward to inform us of some of the most threatened plants in the park and any management actions to protect such species. The Park’s newest management action to protect rare plants is the Rare Plant Propagation project. One method of protecting known populations of rare plants is to supplement those populations with more individuals. Thus, the Park’s Rare Plant Propagation project intends to supplement populations by partnering with the Mt. Cuba Center to grow seeds harvested from populations in the park. We are in the first year of the project, so only seed collection has occurred so far. Next year will be our first year of planting material back into the Park, and we’re all eager so see how populations respond to the supplementation.

C&O Canal Trust: Do you have a favorite rare plant?
Sarah: Polygala polygama also known as racemed milkwort! It is such an adorable little plant that grows about 6 to 12 inches tall. The plant produces these tiny delicate but bright pink flowers and has incredibly hairy seeds that look almost like animal fur under a microscope. Keep your eyes open for it between May and July in dry rocky or sandy woodlands and clearings! 

C&O Canal Trust: When you visit the park recreationally, what do you like to do?
Sarah: This may seem so simple, but I enjoy walking the towpath listening to music, a podcast, or audio book. It’s nice to be away from vehicle traffic and just have space to walk as far as I want. 

C&O Canal Trust: Do you have a favorite section of the park?
Sarah: My favorite section of the park has got to be the area around Paw Paw or Bonds Landing. In general, I deeply enjoy the western part of the park because of its scenery, the mountains, and seclusion. Plus, I can find my favorite ecosystem in that part of the park: shale barrens! 

C&O Canal Trust: What have you liked most about working with the C&O Canal?
Sarah: The work environment all around is excellent. I get to work with great people and spend most of my days outside in a beautiful place!