Out With the Old
In May 2012 new interpretive exhibits were designed and installed at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Ferry Hill Place Visitor Center in Sharpsburg, Maryland. Once a flourishing farm and shipping hub on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, Ferry Hill Plantation suffered the ravages of the Civil War only to be preserved by subsequent decades of stewardship. Now the 200 year old mansion stands, overlooking the Potomac River, as a testament to the history of the surrounding area. The site has strong connections to the Civil War, as the boyhood home of Henry Kyd Douglas, junior officer to General Stonewall Jackson. New exhibits tell the story of the C&O Canal, the Civil War along the canal, the residents of Ferry Hill both enslaved and free, Western Maryland plantation agriculture, and architecture of the mansion. Exhibits include interpretive panels, canal lock models, a house model, topographic map, and a children's dress up area.
In redesigning the interpretive media, Ferry Hill Place is one of many sites along the C&O Canal that are relevant to current and future generations of park visitors, allowing them to understand the significance of the site, the park and the surrounding community. Additional interpretive planning is underway for visitor center and museum locations at Williamsport and Hancock, and a series of new waysides will be installed along the newly repaired Big Slackwater section of the towpath in Fall 2013.
Did You Know?
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.