Paw Paw Tunnel

Paw Paw Tunnel
Paw Paw Tunnel

NPS | S. Spencer

The Paw Paw Tunnel is one of the most significant engineering features on the Canal. To save building six miles of canal along the river, the C&O Canal Company decided to construct a tunnel through a steep topographic ridge now called Tunnel Hill. When work began on the tunnel in 1836, the builders estimated the project would be completed within two years. The tunnel ultimately required 14 years to complete due to labor issues and violence, funding shortfalls, work stoppages, and the challenges of digging a 3,118-foot tunnel through the hard, loose shale. The tunnel opened in October 1850 with rockslides continuing to be a challenge throughout the tunnel’s history.

Today, when you plan your visit to the Paw Paw Tunnel, bring a flashlight and discover the weep holes, rope burns, rub rails, as well as brass plates marking every 100-feet that bring the tunnel’s history to life. Following your travels through the tunnel, enjoy the two-mile long Tunnel Hill Trail where you can discover breathtaking views of the Paw Paw Bends. Parking is available at the Paw Paw Tunnel Campground.


Getting Here

Latitude and Longitude

Degrees Minutes Seconds (DMS): 39° 32' 39.0768" N, 78° 27' 39.2396" W
Decimal Degrees (DD): 39.544188, -78.460900


The Paw Paw Tunnel has no street address, search "Paw Paw Tunnel Campground" or follow the directions below.

From Cumberland, MD

  1. Head south on MD-51 (Industrial Road) for approximately 24 miles.
  2. Parking lot will be directly off MD-51, on the left side of the road.

From Paw Paw, WV

  1. Head north on MD-51 (Oldtown Road) for approximately 0.5 miles.
  2. Parking lot will be directly off MD-51, on the right side of the road

Things to Do

Last updated: June 6, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

142 W. Potomac St.
Williamsport, MD 21795



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