• 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.

Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center

Great Falls Tavern Lockhouse exhibit featuring manekins of locktenders and canal boat families.

Interactive exhibits allow visitors to learn more about the park.

NPS photo

11710 MacArthur Blvd., Potomac, MD 20854 (301-767-3714).

Open year round, Wednesday through Sunday from 9 AM to 4:30 PM. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

 

The Great Falls of the Potomac have drawn people to the river's shore for centuries. To Native Americans it was a gathering place, to George Washington it was an impediment to navigation, to thousands of visitors every year it is an awe-inspiring site. Tourists have been drawn to the Great Falls of the Potomac long before there was a canal. The Great Falls Tavern carries on a long tradition of hospitality for visitors to the C&O Canal. Soon after the canal's ground breaking in 1828 construction began on the original lockhouse. In response to travelers' requests for shelter and a meal, the locktender here at Great Falls, W.W. Fenlon, asked the Canal Company to build the three-story north wing for a hotel. Proposing himself as innkeeper but adding, "Mrs. Felon is better calculated for Land Ladie," he wrote. The hotel opened for business in 1831. The entrance door invited guests into a large, windowed room with fireplaces and a bar. As the inn's first proprietor Mr. Fenlon presided over lively entertainment like fishing parties, dances and social events in the "ballroom," in addition to good dinners and a place to sleep. A community of over 100 people grew nearby with shops and a post office. The National Park Service offers interpretive programs year round and boat rides in the spring, summer and early fall. Please call the visitor center for information at 301-767-3714.

 

NPS Photo

Directions:

From Interstate 495:

Maryland: Take exit 41 (Carderock /Great Falls, MD), follow Clara Barton Parkway to the end. At the stop sign, turn left onto MacArthur Blvd. Follow MacArthur approximately 3.5 miles into the park. MacArthur Blvd. ends at the park.

Virginia: Cross into Maryland over the American Legion Bridge (beltway inner loop) and take exit 41 (Clara Barton Parkway) Westbound, left at fork. Follow Clara Barton to the end. At the stop sign, turn left onto MacArthur Blvd. Follow MacArthur Blvd approximately 3.5 miles into the park. MacArthur Blvd. ends at the park.

From Washington DC:

Take M Street to fork. You can follow either MacArthur Blvd, the right fork or take Canal Road, the fork to the left.

MacArthur Blvd.: Follow MacArthur until it ends at the entrance to the Great Falls section of the park, approximately 8 miles.

Canal Road: Follow to Chain Bridge. At stop light continue straight ahead. Canal Road changes into Clara Barton Parkway. Follow Clara Barton Parkway to the end. At the stop sign, turn left onto MacArthur Blvd., and follow it for approximately 3.5 miles until it ends at the park.

From Frederick, Maryland:

Follow Interstate 270 south toward Washington, DC. Take exit 5 (Falls Road). Exit right toward Potomac on Falls Road. Follow Falls Road 6 miles until it intersects with MacArthur Blvd.. At stop sign turn right into the park.

Related Sites:

www.homestead.com/silverspringhistory www.mdarchives.state.md.us
www.montgomeryhistory.org
www.cvbmontco.com

Visitor Centers

| Brunswick | Cumberland | Georgetown | Great Falls Tavern | Hancock | Williamsport |

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...