Along the 184.5 miles of the canal are 74 lift locks. These locks were put into place to help boats overcome the 605-foot elevation change between Georgetown and Cumberland. The C&O Canal is like a staircase, canal boats traveled along the flat sections and used the locks to take a “step up or down” about eight feet. The locks typically had hand-operated miter gates that were simple and followed Leonardo da Vinci’s original 1485 design. Entering the lock was the most demanding part of canalling.
Last updated: May 7, 2021