Associate Justice William O. Douglas

Photo of Justice Douglas memorial ceremony held at Great Falls Tavern
Justice Douglas and his efforts will always be gratefully remembered along the C&O Canal

NPS Photo

In 1977, the C& O Canal National Historical Park was officially dedicated to Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, the man who helped saved the canal. Justice Douglas advocated to preserve the canal rather than turn it into a scenic parkway. In 1954, he organized a hike of the entire canal to gain publicity and support for the movement to save the canal.

On October 12, 1998, the C&O Canal National Historical Park commemorated the 100th Anniversary of William O. Douglas' birth by unveiling a portrait of Justice Douglas hiking along the towpath. Speakers at the ceremony included Park Superintendent Douglas D. Faris, U.S. Representative Connie Morella (MD), and those in the picture on the right. At the podium is former U.S. Representative Gilbert Gude (MD) who introduced the legislation that preserved the C&O Canal by designating it a National Historical Park. Seated from left to right are Cathleen Douglas Stone (widow of Justice Douglas), Carl Linden (C&O Canal Association), Tom Kozar (the portrait's artist), and U.S. Senator Paul Sarbanes (MD).

Photo of a Tom Kozar painting of Justice William O.  Douglas.
The C&O Canal NHP would not be a national park without the preservation efforts of Justice Douglas.

NPS Photo

A portrait commissioned by the C&O Canal Association now hangs in the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. Each year the C&O Canal Association holds a canal hike in his honor. Late in life, someone asked the justice how he would like to be remembered. Although he was involved in many landmark decisions while serving on the Supreme Court, he replied as someone who tried to make the earth a little more beautiful.

Last updated: October 13, 2017

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