Towns and Communities

Brunswick Heritage Museum Highlight

By | History, Landmarks, Things to Do, Towns and Communities, Uncategorized

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. The first floor of the museum traces the history of the C&O Canal, from its groundbreaking in 1828 to the land becoming a National Historical Park in 1971. Visitors can learn how canal locks work and compare what it was like to work for the C&O versus the B&O.

Model of a B&O train (left) Model of a C&O Canal lock (right)


African Americans at work in Brunswick railroad freight yards. Painting by Carl Butler.

The second floor of the museum depicts how people in Brunswick lived and worked over the years. Carl Butler, whose grandfather was the first black fireman in Brunswick, created a painting of African Americans in Brunswick working in the railroad freight yards, which hangs in the museum.








Original photos of buildings in Brunswick from the Myer Kapton photograph collection, of over 2,200 photographs taken between 1940 and 1978. The “now” photos were taken by museum volunteers.

Photos of Brunswick “then” and “now” show how the town has changed. The train yard is now the commuter parking lot; a gas station is now the Brunswick Citizen; a bank is now town hall. Just a few feet away from the museum, you can see some of these buildings and picture them as a gas station, bank, and train yard.






Part of the baseball exhibit.

Baseball has been — and continues to be — important to the Brunswick community. The Brunswick Railroaders Little League statistics from 1986 hang next to current pictures of the Brunswick team in the Little League World Series.  In 1986, when the Railroaders made it to the world series, over half the town travelled to see it, leaving a ghost town. Although the team ultimately lost, they put Brunswick on the map.






The third floor is the pinnacle of the museum. A model train set depicting the line between Brunswick and Union Station during the 1960s takes up the entire room. The Brunswick train yard is the largest part of the set, which was an accurate depiction of Brunswick until the 1980s when most of the trains moved to Cumberland. Before it was a museum, this room was used as a dance hall for the Lions Club. The museum boasts of having had country music star Patsy Cline as a performer in the 1960s.

Model train depiction of the Brunswick train yard c. 1960


The characters on the set are depicted in activities like repairing a roof, putting out a fire, going to the fair, or kayaking. No matter how many times you have been to the museum, it would be almost impossible not to see something new in the train set. If you live near any of the stops on the B&O, like Gaithersburg, Rockville, or Silver Spring, you can compare the 1960s depiction on the train model to your city now.

Model train depiction of the Point of Rocks train station (left) Barnesville (center) and Gaithersburg (right) c. 1960

Because the museum is run by volunteers and donations, it has limited hours. Visit the museum Thursday and Friday 10am-2pm, Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday 1pm-4pm. Learn more about the museum here.

Brunswick is part of the Canal Towns Partnership, a partnership made up of nine communities along the C&O Canal National Historical Park working to give visitors the best experience possible. Learn more about the Canal Towns Partnership here and Brunswick here.

C&O Canal Ice Cream Trail

By | Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities


Rocky Point Creamery

4323A Tuscarora Road, Tuscarora, MD 21790

Best for: Local dairy products

Serves: Rocky Point Farm Ice Cream

10-minute bike ride from the towpath

Drive through sign

Rocky Point Creamery is a classic farm-to-cone style creamery located a little over a mile from the towpath in Point of Rocks. The creamery rotates over 80 flavors of ice cream weekly and offers specialty sundaes and shakes. Some recent flavors are butter pecan, crabby cow (old bay flavored), and strawberry limeade sorbet. You can make your visit to Rocky Point Creamery quick by using their one-of-a-kind ice cream drive-through, but you should stick around for 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.

Mango sorbet overlooking Rocky Point Farm


Towpath Creamery

12 South Maple Avenue, Brunswick, MD 21716

Best for: Most environmentally friendly

Serves: Ice Cream from Trickling Springs Creamery (Chambersburg, PA) and South Mountain Creamery (Frederick, MD)

3-minute walk from the towpath

Composting bin and bike pump

Opened in June 2018, Towpath Creamery is the newest addition to the towpath ice cream trail. The creamery is a one-stop shop for almost anything you could need in terms of s’mores supplies, paperback books, first aid supplies, toiletries, and souvenirs. Ice cream flavors include blueberry pomegranate sorbet, raspberry swirl, and salted caramel. You can build you own cookie-wich (ice cream sandwich), get a pupcup for your dog, or try a specialty sundae like the Train Tax (chocolate ice cream, hot fudge, peanut butter cups, pieces, health pieces). The cherry on top to your visit might be that the utensils and ice cream cups are compostable, and the creamery provides a composting bin.

The Towpath Creamery shares its location with BoxCar Burgers.


Cannonball Deli

128 High St. Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

Best for: Great views

Serves: Hershey’s Ice Cream

7-minute walk from the towpath

Road Runner Raspberry outside the Cannonball Deli

Potomac Street in Harpers Ferry has three walk-up ice cream spots: Creamy Creations, A La Mode Café, and Coffee Mill. If you want to beat the crowds and the heat, head around the corner to Cannonball Deli, where they have indoor and outdoor seating. Their eight flavors of ice cream include salty caramel and moose tracks. If you want to walk and eat, there are plenty of shops and museums to explore. A few feet away is the Appalachian Trail, which you can take to Jefferson Rock, or just say you’ve walked the width of the AT.  If you have a bike you don’t want to carry through town, lock it at the bottom of the steps by the towpath, or on the other side of the bridge.

Stairs from the towpath to the bridge. Image courtesy of Kevin Madzia/Century Cycles


Nutter’s Ice Cream

100 E. Main Street, Sharpsburg, MD 21782

Best for: Low prices for a large amount of ice cream

Serves: Ice Cream from Hood and Turkey Hill

12-minute bike ride from the towpath, a 3-minute drive from Antietam National Battlefield

Blueberry ice cream outside of Nutter’s

Founded in 1996, Nutter’s is the oldest creamery along the towpath and might be some of the most popular ice cream, with lines out the door on the weekends. Ice cream is not just a summer treat at Nutter’s, who also offers seasonal flavors such as peppermint stick, pumpkin pie, and orange pineapple. A personal favorite is white chocolate raspberry truffle and Pocono paws. Nutter’s has unbelievably low prices, which will make you want to turn a single scoop into a double, or a double scoop into a hot fudge brownie.

Decorations inside of Nutter’s

Desert Rose Café and Sweet Shoppe

2 E Potomac St, Williamsport, MD 21795

Best for: Interior Design

Serves: Ice Cream from HP Hood (Winchester, VA)

5-minute walk from the towpath

Rocky road ice cream overlooking Potomac St.

Desert Rose Café and Sweet Shoppe sits on the corner of Potomac St. and Conococheague St., just up the street from the towpath. Its small store front opens up into a 1960s-esque diner. Seasonal flavors include black raspberry, butter pecan, and cherry vanilla, or you can get a snow cone, custom lollipop, or banana split (big enough to share). Don’t forget your rewards card, because your tenth ice cream or specialty drink is free. If you are from out of town, make sure to pin your hometown on the map, where all 50 states are represented. Desert Rose also serves sandwiches, salads, and snacks, and makes cakes to order.

Desert Rose Cafe interior

Buddy Lou’s Eats Drinks and Antiques

11 E. Main Street, Hancock, MD 21750

Best for: Games and surrey rides

Serves: Soft Serve Ice Cream

2-minute walk from the towpath and the Western Maryland Rail Trail

Vanilla chocolate twist

In the basement of Buddy Lou’s, surrounded by antiques, you will find a soft serve machine. While the only flavors are chocolate and vanilla, you can add toppings, or make a float, a milkshake, or a blurry. Buddy Lou’s is definitely dog friendly with free pup cups and lots of outdoor seating.

Hang out and play checkers, trivial pursuit, dominoes, or another game that catches your fancy. There are plenty of places to rent bikes near the canal, but have you ever rented a surrey? Buddy Lou’s offers two and four-person surrey rentals to take on the rail trail.

Surreys behind Buddy Lou’s. Image courtesy of Buddy Lou’s


European Desserts and More

17 Howard Street, Cumberland, Maryland 21502

Best for: Authentic pastries

Serves: Ice Cream from Garber’s Ice Cream (Winchester, VA)

A few 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

Chocolate ice cream overlooking the towpath.

European Desserts and More is one of the shops at Canal Place, where the C&O, the GAP, and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad meet. It offers six flavors of ice cream including black raspberry and cookies & crème. Its real specialty is handmade traditional 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.

Homemade authentic desserts





These shops are all in Canal Towns, nine towns that line the C&O Canal. Learn more about the Canal Towns Partnership here.

Canal Town Spotlight: Sharpsburg, MD

By | Towns and Communities

Sharpsburg has arguably one of the most colorful histories of any of our Canal Towns. In 1763, a man named Joseph Chapline founded Sharpsburg (then called Sharps Burgh) in honor of his friend, Governor Horatio Sharpe. Chapline chose this tract of land because of its easy access to water. The “Great Spring” of Sharpsburg can still be seen in the large pool that sits in the middle of the block behind Town Hall. Read More

Canal Town Spotlight: Brunswick, MD

By | Towns and Communities


Brunswick should really be called a “Railroad Town”, but we like them, so they are a Canal Town anyway!  Unlike any of the other towns, the B&O Railroad built Brunswick far more than the canal ever did. While the Canal came through in the 1830’s, it was the decision by the B&O Railroad in the late 1800’s, to relocate their rail yard here that truly made the City of Brunswick.  For a time, the six-mile long railroad yard at Brunswick was the largest in the world. Read More

Top Canal Town Attractions along the C&O Canal

By | Towns and Communities

Many Park visitors know that there are towns all along the towpath. Through-hikers and -bikers are especially fond of the local businesses that offer food, respite, bike repair, and a host of other items and services trail-weary travelers can appreciate. To celebrate the C&O Canal Trust’s 10th anniversary, we give you our picks for the top attractions in several of the canal towns along the towpath – many are members of the Canal Towns Partnership, which assists its communities with trail-based tourism and recreation. Read More