• 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 »

The Patowmack Canal

The Patowmack Canal 1785-1828

After the American Revolution, merchants in eastern cities wanted to tap the western region's resources and markets. The plan for internal improvements included a navigable waterway to connect east and west. As early as 1754, George Washington envisioned a system of river and canal navigation along the Potomac River to reach the fertile Ohio Valley. Largely through his efforts, the Potowmack Company was organized in 1785 to carry out this mission.

To bypass the falls, rapids and other impediments to navigation the Potowmack Canal Company constructed five skirting canals around impassible sections of the river. Small, raft-like boats, poled by hand with the help of the river currents carried furs, lumber, flour and farm produce to Georgetown. Although a vast improvement over slow and cumbersome overland transport these transportation improvements were still inadequate. Plans to build a separate, more reliable channel paralleling the Potomac River were soon put into place.

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...