Maryland is celebrating the year of the woman in 2020, the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment. To celebrate, we are taking a look at the roles women played on the C&O Canal. Much of the canal’s history focuses on men, but Karen Gray, the C&O Canal National Historical Park’s volunteer historian, pieced together information on the canal’s women. Read More
Eleven aqueducts stand along the C&O Canal – some of the most impressive of the canal structures that stand today. Aqueducts transported the canal over streams and tributaries. Several have been rebuilt, including the Conococheague Aqueduct in Williamsport, which is watered and is one of the only places in the country where you can ride a boat over an aqueduct. The eleven aqueducts are all different – the stone they were constructed with varies, including red sandstone, grey limestone, white granite, white and pink quartzite. Some have fallen apart and exist only as ruins, while others have been lovingly restored by the National Park Service to their former glory. All stand testament to the engineering ingenuity and devoted labor that went into their construction and the important role they played in the growth of our country. Read More
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.
Written by Karen Gray- C&O Canal National Historical Park Historian
The Brunswick Heritage Museum, previously the Brunswick Railroad Museum, tells the story of Brunswick, Maryland, the B&O Railroad, and the C&O Canal. Whether you are a canal buff, model train enthusiast, baseball fan, or just want to learn more about the area, the Brunswick Heritage Museum has something for you.
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.
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
In the previous blog post, brief mention was made of educational advisor C. Rushton Long, the lone African American administrator within the canal camps. This one man, more than any other, was the most important man at both Camp NP-1 and Camp NP-2. Long quite likely served as the first true coach, educator, and leader these enrollees had ever known. Read More
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 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
The 1870s are alive and well in the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Experience a history lesson, a unique boat ride, and the famous C&O Canal mules when you take a trip on the Charles F. Mercer canal boat at the historic Great Falls Tavern. It’s a great way to see how folks lived and worked along the canal during its heyday.
The Charles F. Mercer is a replica packet Canal boat, named after Charles Fenton Mercer who was the first president of the C&O Canal Company from 1828-1833. Packet boats like the Mercer operated regularly and carried visitors back and forth between Georgetown and the Great Falls area. Your ride on the Mercer will begin at the Tavern and take you upstream through a historic operating lock as your boat is raised eight feet to meet the height of the canal waters. The boat, fully loaded with passengers, will then be pulled upstream by the famous C&O Canal mules while park rangers in period clothing describe what life was like for people who lived and worked on the canal during the 1800s.
Tickets can be purchased at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center in the park at 11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac, MD. The Charles F. Mercer boat capacity is 65 people and boat programs last approximately one hour. Rides are offered weekends, including some Fridays, during the spring and summer. Check if the boat is operating before setting out at https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/great-falls-canal-boat-rides.htm.
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May is National Historic Preservation Month! Historic preservation is very important to us here at the C&O Canal Trust, and much of our work involves partnering with the National Park Service staff to preserve the historic structures in the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP). Read on to learn more! Read More
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
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.
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.