NEW Overnight parking system
Before parking a vehicle overnight in any Canal Parking area, visitors must register their vehicle through the new online registration system. Print your reciept and place on your dashboard. If unable to print, please visit the nearest visitor center. More »
Water Pump Handles Temporarily Removed
Water pump handles at Bald Eagle Island, Jordan Junction and Big Woods Hiker Biker Campsites have been removed due to bad water samples. Handles will be reinstalled when good water samples are received.
Boat Tours at Great Falls
Due to low water levels in the Great Falls area, call the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center (301-767-3714) in advance of your trip to confirm the mule-drawn boat tour schedule.
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.
K.S. Cummings, Illinois Natural History Survey
Freshwater Mussels of C&O Canal National Historical Park
Have you ever wondered why you see 'seashells' deposited along the Potomac River shoreline? These are the shells of native freshwater mussels, snails, and the abundant non-native Asiatic clams that live in our creeks, rivers, and the historic canal itself in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. The shells are indicative of the high turnover rate of the large clam population and the dynamic nature of the river in this area.
About Freshwater Mussels
At the end of the parasitic stage, the juvenile mussels detach themselves from their hosts, leaving the fish unharmed, and sink to the bottom of the stream where they continue to develop - if they find suitable stream bottom habitat. Mussels can reproduce at three years old. Some of the larger species live for twenty to one hundred years.
Importance of Freshwater Mussels
Why are freshwater mussel populations declining?
What can be done to protect freshwater mussels?
Did You Know?
George Washington's dream of connecting the eastern states with the western frontier led to the creation of the Patowmack Company. Canals were built around unnavigable parts of the Potomac River for improved commerce. The C&O Canal inherited the right of way after the Patowmack Company's demise. More...