• Historic Shot of Canal Boat on the Canal

    Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

    National Historical Park DC,MD,WV

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  • Road to Big Slackwater Boat Ramp Closed

    For 60 days contractors will be replacing the bridge on the road to the the boat ramp. The road will be closed for non-offical traffic. More »

  • 15 Mile Creek Campground closed Evening of May 9

    Attention Campers: Fifteenmile Creek Campground will be closed for repairs May 9th, 5pm to May 10th, 1pm. **The nearest alternative car-camping sites are Paw Paw Tunnel located on Mile 156.1 or McCoys Ferry on Mile 110.4. Thank you for your cooperation.

  • Howard Street Parking Lot Closed in Cumberland

    Starting Mon. April 21, 2014, the paved lot under the I-68 Bridge at Howard St. used for long-term trail parking for the towpath and GAP will be closed for continued bridge repair. Use the gravel lot adjacent to the Footer Dye Works Building instead.

  • Howard Street Parking Lot Closed in Cumberland

    Starting Mon. April 21, 2014, the paved lot under the I-68 Bridge at Howard St. used for long-term trail parking for the towpath and GAP will be closed for continued bridge repair. Use the gravel lot adjacent to the Footer Dye Works Building instead.

Canal and River Structures

The canal itself was a "prism", wider at the water's surface than at the bottom, and large enough for two boats to pass each other. Digging and blasting the channel for the canal was hard and dangerous work, and the result was often just referred to as a ditch. The masonry parts were held in higher esteem, and were termed "works of art" in the canal company's documents. These included the locks, culverts, aqueducts, and the waste weirs that regulated the flow of water through the canal and turned it into an engine to lift and lower the canal boats.

The stonemasons were the most prominent craftsmen of the canal, painstakingly cutting blocks of stone to as small a tolerance as a half-inch. Unfortunately, this sort of craftsmanship is much too time consuming and expensive for the modern world. The highway bridges that vault the river and the canal are more sensibly formed of concrete, but this sort of construction did not develop until well after the canal was built. Concrete was not used on the canal until 1906, and is most commonly found as replacement work in waste weirs and lock pockets.

Some C&O Canal structures are:

Lift locks - raised or lowered boats much like an elevator

Lock houses - located next to locks; the lock keeper and his family lived inside with the lock keeper operating the lock as needed

Feeder Dams - built on the Potomac River, they supplied water to the canal

Waste weirs - diverted excess canal water back to the Potomac River, usually located near a dam

Culverts - diverted excess canal water under the towpath

The Paw Paw Tunnel - the only tunnel built on the canal

Did You Know?

Photo Maryland Gold Mine.

There are several gold mines in the Great Falls area. The largest of these is the Maryland Mine located at the intersection of Falls Road and MacArthur Boulevard near Potomac, Maryland. Gold was first discovered here by a Union soldier from Pennsylvania during the Civil War.