• 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.

Plants

The C&O Canal is one of the most biologically diverse parks, especially for plant species, in the National Park System. The park has recorded over 1,500 species of vascular plants, including over 260 non-native plant species, over 100 rare, threatened or endangered species of plants in Maryland and The District of Columbia, and 1 federally endangered plant species. The number of rare plants represents one of the highest concentrations of state-listed rare plants in the eastern US. Several species are globally rare, and some occur here because they are dependent upon special habitats and ecological conditions present along the Potomac River.

Numerous ecological factors along the Potomac River create a mosaic of different natural habitats. As the park winds westward from just below the Fall Line to western Maryland a variety of geologic formations are exposed, supporting diverse native plant communities,. Areas along the Potomac River, the Potomac Gorge area for example, are subject to frequent floods, causing canopy gaps, scouring and deposition that creates a diversity of habitats and organisms. Distributions of many northern and southern plant species overlap the Potomac River. Isolated populations of western species survive where rare prairie habitat persists along the river. As a result, rare species occur here that are known in only a few other places in the Mid-Atlantic region, adding to the great diversity of this area.

 

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...