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Paw Paw Tunnel Rockslide Update

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Date: April 2, 2013

Paw Paw Tunnel, MD - Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park Superintended Kevin Brandt announced today park crews began clearing stone debris off of the canal towpath just downstream of the Paw Paw Tunnel. This work follows a significant rockslide near towpath mile 155 in January 2013. Due to concerns related to the potential threat for additional rockslides, park work crews and visitors have been prohibited from entering the slide area. Park visitors have been detoured over the mountain along Tunnel Hill Trail.

Work on clearing the slide was delayed until a thorough geotechnical analysis could be accomplished to ensure that park workers could clear the debris safely and determine if any stabilization work was needed. This analysis was conducted last week and made possible by a donation from the Allegheny Trail Alliance.  "There was an immediate need to take action," Linda McKenna Boxx, Allegheny Trail Alliance president and C&O Canal Trust Advisory Board member, stated. "We dedicate proceeds from our publication TrailBook to address trail maintenance and were happy to help solve this problem."  TrailBook is an annual guidebook that covers both the C&O Canal and the Great Allegheny Passage.

The Allegheny Trail Alliance is a coalition of seven trail organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania and western Maryland, building the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). The GAP is now connected to the 184.5 mile C & O Canal Towpath in Cumberland and provides a non-motorized, nearly level trail system between Washington, DC and Homestead, PA. Boxx further noted "This is an important year for the towpath to be open. The GAP will be completed to Pittsburgh in late May, which makes the final trail connection between Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh. A break in the towpath would discourage many travelers from attempting the end-to-end trip."

As a result of the engineering study repair work to remove the slide and complete interim stabilization has begun. Superintendent Brandt stated that "If the weather and our equipment hold up the plan is to complete these steps over the next two to three weeks. At that time, the towpath will reopen downstream of the Paw Paw Tunnel and the Tunnel Hill Trail detour will no longer be necessary."

For more information regarding the status of the rockslide and detour, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/choh or contact the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Cumberland Visitor Center at (301) 722-8226.

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...