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History

Places for History Buffs Not to Miss

By Blog, Explore Your Canal, History, Landmarks, Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities
Most people think of the C&O Canal as a place for outdoor recreation, but the park is designated as a national historical park because of its rich history. The canal’s history is multi-faceted—from its use as a transportation route with over 1,000 historic structures to its strategic location along the Potomac during the American Civil War and beyond. Today it’s not only a great place to enjoy the outdoors, but it’s a treasure trove for history enthusiasts. Read More

Remote Places Along the C&O Canal to Explore While Socially Distancing

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

Towpath near Shepherdstown by Alma Rebekah Hanna

During this stressful time of social distancing and isolation, it is critically important you take care of your physical and mental health. Fortunately, the C&O Canal National Historical Park is open and ready to offer you fresh air, relaxation, and a break from the news coverage. The western section of the C&O Canal offers many remote points of interest that are less frequently visited than popular eastern hubs such as Great Falls. If you feel comfortable leaving your home, consider visiting some of these western gems along the canal for a stroll or a bike ride along the towpath. If you have kids, take our C&O Canal Scavenger Hunt with you!

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African American Heritage Sites Along the C&O Canal

By Blog, Content, Explore Your Canal, History, Landmarks
The C&O Canal is a great place to experience history! Visitors can learn about the construction of the canal in the mid-nineteenth century, the fierce competition between the C&O Canal and the B&O Railroad, and even experience life as a lock keeper with an overnight stay in a historic lockhouse through the Canal Quarters Program. But the C&O Canal is also a great place to learn about African American history in the region. There are many historic churches, communities, and heritage sites along the canal that preserve the African American experience in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Read More

Celebrating Presidents’ Day on the C&O Canal

By Blog, Canal Quarters, History

Photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash

Many people are familiar with the C&O Canal’s connection to the Judicial Branch because of Justice Douglas, but what about the Executive Branch? In honor of Presidents’ Day, we ask how our Presidents have supported the C&O Canal and how they themselves have benefited from the canal.

With the White House only a 10-minute walk from the Park, various Presidents have enjoyed the Canal and the Potomac River over the years for both its recreational opportunities and its tranquility.

 

 

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Charles Fisk’s Impact on the Canal

By Blog, History

Written by Karen Gray- C&O Canal National Historical Park Historian

Charles Bezaleel Fisk (June 14, 1806–Jan. 11, 1866) is the only C&O Canal engineer who served throughout the construction period, being hired as a mere assistant engineer in 1828, rising to the position of chief engineer in April 1837, and leaving the canal in 1852. Fisk’s name is on the builders stone in the middle of the berm parapet of the Monocacy Aqueduct, the keystone of the upstream portal of the Paw Paw Tunnel, and the C&O completion obelisk beside the Wisconsin Avenue bridge over the canal in Georgetown on the NW side.

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Bike Your Park Day 2019

By History, Landmarks, News

The last Saturday in September is Bike Your Park Day, an initiative created by the Adventure Cycling Association to promote biking in national parks, state parks, and other public lands. Lowell Markey, longtime volunteer with the C&O Canal National Historical Park, led an interpretive bike ride on September 28 to celebrate this year’s Bike Your Park Day. Visitors got to experience the new towpath surface near Shepherdstown and discover the history of this part of the park.

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April is Archeology Month in Maryland

By History

April is Archeology Month in Maryland! To celebrate, we wanted to bring you a look at the archeological work that takes place along the canal. The C&O Canal National Historical Park is home to nearly 300 identified archeological sites that span back approximately 9,000 years. Many more exist that have not been documented.

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Presidents and the C&O Canal

By History, Stories

The C&O Canal is wonderful for many reasons, but one of them is its vast history. With the White House only a 10-minute walk from the Park, various Presidents have enjoyed the Canal and the Potomac River over the years for both its recreational opportunities and tranquility.

Without further ado, let’s take a stroll through history on the Canal with our former Presidents. Read More

Recreation After Restoration: CCC Life Along the Canal

By History, Stories

William Allen lived and worked at Camp NP-2 in Cabin John, and was well known to his fellow enrollees as the “camp jitterbug No. 1” for his dancing all about the camp. In June 1938, the camp welcomed a new batch of enrollees from Baltimore. Not long after that, Allen stopped dancing – those “Baltimore boys” were experienced visitors to jazz clubs, and Allen was essentially shamed into early dancing retirement by his friends. Read More

The CCC and the C&O

By History, Stories

The C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) traces its existence as a recreational site to hundreds of young black men. These men, all of whom were out-of-work and between 18 and 25 years old, lived and worked at two camps (Camp NP-1 and Camp NP-2) operated by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), located along the canal near present-day Carderock Recreation Area from 1938-1942. Read More

10 Architectural Wonders of the C&O Canal

By History, Landmarks, Things to Do

The C&O Canal National Historical Park boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in the area. Not only is our Park magnificent to look at, but it is home to many natural and man-made wonders. The architects and builders who built the canal had to overcome rocky land, mountains, and changes in elevation, and through these difficulties, many architectural wonders were born.  Below, we take a closer look at 10 of them in honor of the C&O Canal Trust’s 10th anniversary. Read More

1850s shop ledger provides peek into C&O Canal history

By History, Stories

The archives of the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP) hold a merchant’s ledger (1856-1858) from Williamsport, MD that provides details about everyday life along the canal and insights into park history. The ledger’s more than 260 lined pages provide insight into the foodways, economics, and material culture of people along the canal whose stories have often become invisible to the historical record.

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Justice Douglas: One Man Can Make a Difference

By History, News

Imagine that a place you love, a place of refuge and retreat, is threatened with destruction in order to make way for a shopping center or an office building or a highway. What would you do?

That was exactly the situation Justice William O. Douglas faced early in 1954 when the neglected remnants of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal were threatened by the construction of a scenic highway. The proposed project would be much like Skyline Drive built right next to, if not on top of, the old canal.

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