• Historic Shot of Canal Boat on the Canal

    Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

    National Historical Park DC,MD,WV

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  • Water Pump Handles Temporarily Removed

    Evitts Creek Hiker-Biker Campground water pump handle has been removed due to bad water samples. Handles will be reinstalled when good water samples are received.

  • Parking Lot Closure

    CSX is now beginning a phase of their bridge project that requires the closure of the Lock 74 parking lot for approximatly 18 months. Access to visitor parking near Lock 75 is now re-opened with a gravel parking lot at the site.

  • Boat Rides at Great Falls

    Regularly scheduled tour times for the mule-drawn canal boat at Great Falls have changed. In July and August 2014 tours will be offered Saturdays and Sundays at 11:00, 1:30 and 3:00. More »

Frequently Asked Questions


When did the government acquire the Canal?

When did the Canal become a National Park?

How many acres does the Park own?
approximately 12,000 acres

What is the condition of the Canal today?
Aprroximately 25 miles remains watered and a few locks are still in working condition.


When was construction started?
July 4, 1828

When was the Canal completed?
October 10, 1850

What was the cost of the Canal?
About $14 million

How many years did it take to build the Canal?
22 years

How many people comprised the labor force?
4,000 workmen at the height


How long is the Canal?
184.5 miles long

How deep is the Canal?
Workers dug it to be 6 feet deep but many areas that are watered are only 2-3 feet deep.

How wide is the Canal?
60 to 80 feet depending upon the section

How wide is the towpath?
Originally 12ft wide, now 7ft in some areas

What is the distance in elevation end to end on the canal?
605 feet

How many locks are on the Canal?
74 lift locks

What are the dimensions of the locks?
Variations of 95-100 ft long; 15 ft wide; 12-18 ft deep

What was the size of the cargo boats?
90 ft long with a 125 ton capacity

How big was the family’s cabin on the boat?
12x12 feet

How many dams were built along the Canal to divert river water into the inlets?
7 dams

How many aqueducts were built along the Canal?
11 aqueducts

How many culverts were built along the Canal?
Over 150 culverts

What are the dimensions of the Paw Paw Tunnel?
3,118ft long; 27ft wide; 24ft high

How long did it take to construct the tunnel?
8 years, an average of 1ft per day


What were the years of operation?
1850-1924, some sections opened starting in 1830.

How long was the journey down the Canal?
average of 5-7 days, working 18 hours a day

How many trips did a boat take per year?
average of 25 trips a year

How much coal did a boat take per trip?
About 100-120 tons

How much money did a boat make per trip?
$25 for 100 tons

When was the peak year of the Canal?
1871 with 850,000 tons of coal transported

How many boats operated on the Canal?
500 during peak operating years

How many mules worked on the Canal?
2,000 during that same time

What was the speed limit on the Canal?
about 4 MPH

How long does it take to "lock through"?
approximately 10 minutes

How long is the towline?
100 ft long


A mule is a cross between what two animals?
A female horse and a male donkey

How many mules needed per boat?
2 sets of 2 or 3 mules

How long did the mules work before they needed a break?
6-8 hours

What did the mules eat?
Hay and other grains


Did You Know?

Photo upstream entrance Paw Paw Tunnel.

The Paw Paw Tunnel is 3,118 feet long and is lined with almost six million bricks. The 2/3 mile long tunnel saved the canal builders almost six miles of construction along the Paw Paw bends of the Potomac River. The project took twelve years to complete. The tunnel was only wide enough for single lane traffic. More...