The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O Canal) stretches over 184 miles along the Potomac River from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD. The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park (CHOH) is charged with preserving and protecting this cultural resource for our enjoyment. Along the length of the canal are 74 lift locks, numerous lockhouses, 11 aqueducts, a turning basin, a railroad lift bridge, and one of the only remaining Bollman Iron Truss bridges in the area.

Reflecting on the Past

Reflecting on the Past | S. L. Prestridge

Milepost 0 is located at Tidewater Lock in D.C. near the Georgetown Visitor Center while park headquarters are located in Hagerstown, MD not far from the Williamsport Visitor Center and the Cushwa Basin (pictured above) at Lock 44. Williamsport is significant because it is the only place on the canal where examples of the major structures can be viewed within a half-mile stretch. There is a half-mile rewatered section of canal that leads through the turning basin, under the only railroad lift bridge as well as the only Bollman Iron Truss bridge on the canal, continuing to Lock House 44 and the adjacent lock. The Conocheague Aqueduct is located across from the turning basin (pictured below, “On the Turning Away”).

On the Turning Away

On the Turning Away | S. L. Prestridge

The C&O Canal provides area residents with an abundance of recreational activities from horse back riding, bicycling, hiking, and running to winter activities like cross country skiing, ice-skating, and sledding. I have run several sections of the canal in the Georgetown and Great Falls areas as well as around Williamsport. The towpath offers a reliable surface free from road traffic and other pedestrian obstacles and its length affords the opportunity to get in a long workout for even the most obsessive long-distance runners or bicyclists. I have also enjoyed hiking and rock climbing in the surrounding Great Falls and Carderock areas.

The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship. Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was on to something. Get outside, do and see more, and enjoy the places that move you, the C&O Canal National Historic Park is one of mine.

Remains of the Day

On the Turning Away | S. L. Prestridge

Images in this article:

Reflecting the Past | S. L. Prestridge

On the Turning Away | S. L. Prestridge

Remains of the Day | S. L. Prestridge

Other parks in my series

  1. Acadia National Park

  2. Cape Cod National Seashore

  3. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

  4. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park

  5. Joshua Tree National Park

  6. Morristown National Historical Park

  7. Jefferson National Expansion Monument

  8. Monocacy National Battlefield

  9. Prince William Forest Park

  10. You can run America’s Parks

  11. Gateway National Recreation Area