Archeology at C&O Canal National Historical Park
Paw Paw Tunnel Worker's Camp and Brickworks
From 1836 until 1850, the serene picnic area before you was a bustling work
site. Here, as many as 400 immigrant workers, mainly Irish, labored to
complete the 3,118-foot Paw Paw Tunnel.
The construction of the C&O Canal was troubled by labor strife. Workers whose
pay was often late protested to demand their wages, including a violent riot
here in 1838. They formed primitive labor unions based on Irish secret
societies and fought for their jobs, believing that every man had the right
to work and to earn enough to survive.
C&O Canal Company and "Canallers"
Archeologists uncovering the remains of a C&O Canal
Company office and storehouse. (Click image to enlarge.)
Foundation of the Company Office and Storehouse. (Click image to enlarge.)
Canal repairs, showing the tools used by the canal builders.
The "canallers" worked long hours under harsh conditions, and they lived in
temporary shanty towns where living conditions were primitive. (Click image to enlarge.)
Excavating a brick clamp, one of those used to produce the
millions of bricks needed for the tunnel. (Click image to enlarge.)
Remains of a brick clamp. The dark streak is ash left by
the fire that baked the bricks. (Click image to enlarge.)
Historic photo of a brick clamp. (Click image to enlarge.)