• Historic Shot of Canal Boat on the Canal

    Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

    National Historical Park DC,MD,WV

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    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 »

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...