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Little Orleans

Only in Orleans!

By Ranger Rita

Driving into the Fifteenmile Creek section of the canal in Little Orleans, I can't help but think of the classic Beatles hit "The Long and Winding Road". After exiting busy I-68, that six-mile drive along the Little Orleans road with its great vistas and views transports me to the more peaceful pace of life that is Orleans.

Not always perfectly peaceful, Little Orleans was the sight of several labor riots during the canal construction period. This came during the final phase of construction when funds were short and at times, tempers shorter. The nearby Paw Paw Tunnel worksite was also experiencing labor unrest. The "long and winding road" to completing the canal in this section of the Potomac was not without challenges.

Today, all is tranquil and Orleans is an oasis for towpath and river travelers. Whether one reaches Little Orleans via the canal towpath, the Potomac River or Orleans Road, they still have to take a "long and winding road" to get there.

And all paths seem to lead to Bill's Place, one of the best known landmarks along the entire C & O Canal. Bill's Place has welcomed canal travelers for decades - in fact, since 1896, there has been a grocery store adjacent to the canal at Little Orleans. Everyone wants to see Bill's Place - the combination general store, bar, restaurant, and gathering place which is "open when it opens." Even a fire in 2000 didn't spell an end to Bill's Place. Bill's Place was re-built and continues to operate today - only in Orleans - at the end of a "long and winding road."