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Towns and Communities

A Day in Williamsport, Maryland – An Itinerary

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

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

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

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

Cushwa Basin by Mark Crilley

Williamsport Aqueduct by John Gensor

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

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

Eat: Dessert Rose Cafe 

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

Chill: Byron Memorial Park

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

If you have time: Visit Lockhouse 44 

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

Come back for: Springfield Farm

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

Events: Fourth of July Fireworks Display 

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

Along the Towpath in Williamsport by Ed Crawford

A Day In Brunswick, Maryland – An Itinerary

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

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

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

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

 Brunswick, C&O Canal Park Sign by Paulie Ward

Towpath in Brunswick, MD by Jerry Knight

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

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

Eat: Beans & the Belfry

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

Chill: The City Park Building & Parks 

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

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

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

Come back for: Boxcar Burgers & Towpath Creamery 

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

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

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

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

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

Smoketown Brewing by Esther Herbers

Brunswick

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

3 Ways to Support the Canal Towns

By Blog, News, Towns and Communities
The Canal Towns, ten towns that line the C&O Canal National Historical Park, provide cyclists and tourists with lodging, food, and services that make the thru-ride possible for so many people. However, the merchants in these towns are suffering, as the tourism and hospitality industries are some of the hardest hit due to COVID-19 closures. As we enter what would be the start of the busy outdoor recreation season on the canal, please consider supporting the Canal Town businesses in the following ways: Read More

Georgetown

Places for History Buffs Not to Miss

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

Georgetown from the Canal by Tim Walters

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. You can explore by region: East | Central | West Read More

Poolesville Joins the Canal Towns Partnership

By News, Towns and Communities
The Montgomery County town of Poolesville recently joined the Canal Towns Partnership, a community and economic development organization made up of 10 towns along the C&O Canal National Historical Park (NHP). “We are excited to have our first new canal town come on board since the inception of the partnership in 2011,” said Abbie Ricketts, the chair of the Canal Towns Partnership.

Through tourism marketing and advocacy, the Canal Towns Partnership aims to amplify the voices of its small canal town members so they can fully reap the economic benefits of trail tourism. The C&O Canal NHP hosts 4.5 million visitors a year, many of whom visit the Canal Towns in search of food, drink, shopping, and lodging.

Read More

Holiday Shopping in Brunswick, Harpers Ferry, and Bolivar (3/3)

By Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities
Get your holiday shopping done early, and you’ll thank yourself for it later. If you are looking for secret Santa gifts, stocking stuffers, gifts for family member of all ages, or holiday decorations, the Canal Towns have you covered. Grab a hot drink and snack to fuel your shopping spree in the fresh Western Maryland air while supporting local businesses. This is a three-part series, find part 1 here, and part 2 here.

Read More

Holiday Shopping in Hancock and Cumberland (2/3)

By Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities
Get your holiday shopping done early, and you’ll thank yourself for it later. If you are looking for secret Santa gifts, stocking stuffers, gifts for family member of all ages, or holiday decorations, the Canal Towns have you covered. Grab a hot drink and snack to fuel your shopping spree in the fresh Western Maryland air while supporting local businesses. This is a three-part series, find part 1 here, and part 3 here.

Read More

Holiday Shopping in Shepherdstown, Williamsport, and Sharpsburg (1/3)

By Planning Your Visit, Things to Do, Towns and Communities
Get your holiday shopping done early, and you’ll thank yourself for it later. If you are looking for secret Santa gifts, stocking stuffers, gifts for family member of all ages, or holiday decorations, the Canal Towns have you covered. Grab a hot drink and snack to fuel your shopping spree in the fresh Western Maryland and West Virginia air while supporting local businesses. Read More

Canal Town Spotlight: Sharpsburg, MD

By Towns and Communities

History
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

History

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