• Historic Shot of Canal Boat on the Canal

    Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

    National Historical Park DC,MD,WV

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  • Towpath Reroute!

    6/14/14- Towpath breach at MM 106, just below Dam #5. Towpath Detour in place (this detour does not leave park property). Please be aware of possible towpath hazards due to heavy rains.

  • Water Pump Handles Temporarily Removed

    Purslane Run, Stickpile, Evitts Creek Hiker-Biker Campgrounds and Paw Paw Campground water pump handles have been removed due to bad water samples. Handles will be installed 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. Please call the Visitor Center for more info: 301-767-3714. More »

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 of park rangers interpreting building the canal.

Canal historians estimate approximately 35,000 laborers helped dig the canal as well as build aqueducts, culverts, locks, lock houses, etc. It took 22 years to build the canal from Georgetown, DC to Cumberland, MD. Much of the workforce were immigrants from Ireland and western Europe. More...