Canal Discoveries

Towpath at Paw Paw Tunnel
Paw Paw Tunnel

Less than one hundred years, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal witnessed a transportation race, communities grow and decline, battles between a divided nation, and technological improvements that made canal life obsolete.The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, in partnership with the C&O Canal Trust, collected untold stories of structures and people along the 184.5-mile towpath from almost a century ago. Find them on C&O Canal Trust 's website; each discovery includes a description of the park, a map, and a photo gallery.


Canal Discoveries

All Roads Lead to Cumberland

Milepost 184.5

"Cumberland may be the end of the C&O Canal, but it was also once known as the 'Gateway to the West.' The Potomac River cuts through the mountains in and around Cumberland providing one of the easiest westward crossings…" By Ranger Rita

Walking in the Footsteps of Others

Milepost 99

"When I walk the towpath near Lockhouse 44 in Williamsport, I ponder those whose footsteps I'm following. Tens of thousands have walked here before me, including barefoot 10-year old mule drivers leading their families' boats upstream to pick up more coal, lock tenders coming back from town with loaves of bread to sell to the canawlers, and Confederate soldiers marching east to the Falling Waters crossing to escape Union forces…" By Ranger Lisa

Lock Ready!

Milepost 8.4

"Lock ready!" That was what the lock tenders would call before locking a boat up or down. As a member of the C&O Canal boat crew, tending the lock is one of my favorite duties. I didn't begin to appreciate the ingenuity, workmanship, and beauty that the C&O Canal's historic structures represent until I fully understood how its locks worked. A lock functions like an elevator for boats. On the C&O Canal, there are 74 lift locks over its 184.5 miles. Each raises and lowers boats eight feet. Together, like a set of stairs, they enable the boats to overcome the 605-foot elevation change between Georgetown and Cumberland…" By Ranger Becca

A Man-Made Natural Wonder

Milepost 155

"Rainy days make me think of the Paw Paw Tunnel. When I'm in Allegany County on a rainy day, I go out of my way to enjoy the tunnel's spectacular man-made natural wonder. It holds one of the best secrets of the canal…a waterfall that flows only when it rains. When the canal builders created the tunnel, they also carved a long approach out of the mountain on the downstream end. In creating this half-mile long man-made canyon, they changed the drainage patterns of the mountain, focusing much of it down over the North portal into what is now known as Tunnel Hollow." By Ranger Bill


Last updated: October 22, 2018

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1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740



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