Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Historical Park, Hagerstown, MD

The Chesapeake & Ohio canal was part of a grand vision of western expansion.  Although it never fulfilled it’s goal of connecting the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River, it did have a remarkable impact on the Potomac River Valley.  The canal was one of the nation’s most ambitious century industrial experiment and it served it’s region well for nearly a century


The C&O Canal operated from 1832 to 1924 and served primarily yo transport coal from the Allegheny mountains to Washington DC.  The canal closed in 1924, in part due to several severe floods that devastated the canals financial operation.


When the canal opened in 1850, a boat traveling northwest from Washington DC to Cumberland, MD covered 184.5 miles and passed through 74 lift locks that elevated it 605 feet.


Canal boats that passed through the canal were 90 to 95 feet long, approximately 6 feet high and roughly 14.5 feet wide.  Mules were the normal mode of power for canal boats.  Boaters used 2 mules at a time & had to carry the animal feed.  The teams were changed every few hours.


Present day the towpaths the the mules once walked on to pull the boats are now paved bicycle/walking paths.   And, you can take a mule-drawn boat ride on the canal at Great Falls Tavern visitor center at a cost of $5 – $8 per person.


3 day pass:. $10/vehicle, $5/person on foot or bicycle

Visitor Centers:

Great Falls Tavern – Wednesday to Sunday 9:00 – 4:30

Brunswick – Tuesday to Friday 10:00 – 2:00, Saturday 10:00 – 4:00 and Sunday 1:00 – 4:00

Ferry Hill Plantation – Saturday & Sunday 11:30 – 3:30

Williamsport – daily 9:00 – 4:30

Hancock – Friday, Saturday & Sunday 10:00 – 3:00

Cumberland – daily 9:00 – 5:00