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    Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

    National Historical Park DC,MD,WV

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Swains Lock Concession Closes

Swains Lock Concession Closes on C&O Canal

By Kathy Sholl, Public Affairs Assistant, 301-745-5804


April 27, 2006

The family-owned seasonal refreshment stand and boat rental at Swain’s Lock, located on the C&O Canal National Historical Park, will no longer be open for business. After almost a century, the Swain family has ceased operations. At this time, there will be no concessions available at Swain’s Lock. Family member Bert Swain said, “The Swain family has lived at Lockhouse 21 since the early 1900s, and it was an emotional decision to give up the concession. However, it had run its course and we’re looking to the future and working with the National Park Service and other interest groups in finding new ways of utilizing the lockhouse. The family is very eager to stay involved in maintaining connections with the National Park Service and the canal.”

C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt said, “It is sad to see a season begin on the C&O Canal without the Swains. The family has long been associated with the canal, and they will be sorely missed.”

Swain family members began working on the original construction of the canal and also worked as boatmen and lock tenders, operating Swain’s Lock at mile 16.6. The Swains lived at the lockhouse during the floods of 1889; 1936, when bridges were destroyed at Harpers Ferry and Shepherdstown; as well as in 1942 and 1972. Jesse Swain was the lock tender when the canal closed down in 1924.

Did You Know?

Drawing DaVinci's lock gate design 1485.

Transporting goods and people by canal dates back to antiquity. The lock gates used on the C&O Canal were an adaptation of a design by Leonardo DaVinci in the late 1400's. Until the advent of the railroad, water travel was far superior to land travel.